Russian invaders are holding 1,700 Ukrainian military and civilians in captivity, 500 of them are women, Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk said on April 12.
The invaders assault the dignity of captive women, do not let them to sit down, shave their heads and undress every day “for examinations,” the minister said in an interview with news agency Reuters.
There are also reports of rape and beatings of Ukrainian women, Vereshchuk said.
“They want us to be scared,” she said. “They want us to cry and be victims. But we are not like that. Our girls and women... are asking us to keep fighting for our victory.”
Invading Russian forces are kidnapping civilians, including priests, journalists and activists, and holding them along with criminals in cells,” Vereshchuk said. Many of them have been taken to Kursk, Bryansk and Rostov. Russia wants to use the captives as an “exchange fund,” she said.
Vereshchuk said on April 4 that the number of captured Russian soldiers in Ukraine was about 600 people. At the same time, Russia has placed conditions on Ukraine for the exchange prisoners: they demand to exchange the soldiers for soldiers, and civilians for civilians.
“I constantly ask negotiators from the Russian side: should we also capture Russians all over the world in order to put them up as an exchange fund? But we are not terrorists or pirates, so we will not act like that,” the deputy prime minister said.
Ukraine and Russia conducted a third exchange of captives on April 9. Twenty-six Ukrainians were released from Russian captivity – 12 soldiers, including one female officer, and 14 civilians, nine of whom were women.