out of the frying pan?
Pyotr Andryuschenko, an assistant to the mayor of the Russian-encircled Ukrainian city of Mariupol, said Saturday that "between 4,000 and 4,500" of the city's inhabitants have been taken "forcibly across the border to [the Russian city of] Taganrog," The New York Times reports.
Andryuschenko also said he feared those taken to Russia could be compelled to perform forced labor.
Russian news outlets say buses have transported several hundred people from Mariupol to Russia in recent days, but claim those people were refugees, not captives, Reuters reports.
Per the Times, an official from the Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that over 7,800 Ukrainians had "expressed their desire to escape to the Russian Federation" in the past 24 hours.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of Sunday, Russia had taken in around 184,000 of the more than 3.3 million refugees who have fled Ukraine since the invasion began on Feb. 24. This count includes those who have fled from separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine, which Russia recognizes as independent republics.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russia's bombardment of Mariupol as a war crime and "a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come" in an address to the nation Sunday. He also said over 4,000 civilians have been successfully evacuated from Mariupol.
On Saturday, Mariupol's city council said Russian forces bombed an art school in which 400 of the city's inhabitants had taken shelter, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, the deputy mayor of Mariupol said Russian forces bombed a theater that held hundreds of civilians — many of them children. The word "children" had been written on the pavement outside the theater in large Cyrillic letters to protect those inside from Russian bombing raids.