As many as 12,000 civilians remain in Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast, after the city recently fell under Russian occupation, Ukraine Deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk told Ukrainian broadcasters on July 6.
"There are 10,000-12,000 people left(in Lysychansk),” said Vereshchuk.
Most managed to evacuate. And I must say – everyone had the opportunity to leave. Others chose to stay in the city for certain reasons, good and otherwise, the official added.
"Unfortunately, they now face consequences of ignoring government advice to evacuate – something we ensured was possible,” Vereshchuk stressed.
Evacuation buses from Lysychansk were often only half-full, said the official. Russian invaders are now screening remaining civilians in filtration camps, looking for any signs of affiliation with Ukrainian armed forces.
“These people face a dismal fate, sadly,” Vereshchuk added.
“They are either kept prisoners in a cellar…, or they are beaten and tortured, for no good reason, before getting released.”
The deputy PM urged Ukrainians in the city to not trust the Russians and to use any opportunity to leave.
“They came to eradicate and liquidate us,” Vereshchuk concluded.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Hayday earlier said that Russia still has no complete control of the oblast – fighting is still ongoing around several settlements.
Ukrainian troops withdrew from Lysychansk on July 3, after several weeks of defending against the Russian offensive.