Tens of thousands of people are missing in Ukraine.
Videos show some being released from captivity - yet they never reappear.
Zaporizhia/Munich - On November 28, Russian troops took a prisoner of war to a checkpoint and filmed him being deported to Ukrainian-controlled Zaporizhia.
The 22-year-old student had been held captive in the Zaporizhia region since August during the Ukraine war - but never reached the Ukrainian checkpoint.
This is reported by
the Kyiv Independent
, which calls the student "Bohdan" in the report.
He doesn't want his real name published, but told the portal how he and other prisoners have been doing since November.
This information could not be verified independently.
Internationally, the main focus is on missing Ukrainian children who are said to have been brought to Russia.
In this context, the International Criminal Court in The Hague brought charges against Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine War: Prisoners forced to dig trenches for Russia
"I can't let you go.
They saw our positions,” Bohdan was
told as he reached another Russian checkpoint, according to the
Kyiv Independent .
"But we'll give you a chance.
Work and you will live,” the officer reportedly said.
For his family, Bohdan remained missing.
He and another civilian were handed shovels that same day.
From early in the morning until late in the evening, they and 18 other people dug trenches and lived in a house abandoned by the residents.
The women had to do housework for Russian soldiers.
There was never any talk of a future for her.
"I wanted to jump on a mine to make it all over," Bohdan said.
He suspects that the forced laborers stayed about five kilometers from Ukrainian positions the whole time, and he said he saw Ukrainian drones several times.
He has been free since March 16, more than six months after his first arrest - the exact circumstances remained unpublished for security reasons.
Ukraine war: how to search for the missing?
"In recent months, few Ukrainians who were 'released' on camera actually reached a Ukrainian checkpoint," wrote Dmytro Orlov, the exiled mayor of the Russian-held city of Enerhodar in Zaporizhia Oblast on Telegram.
He speaks of around 200 missing men and women in the region.
Bohdan says he's not sure the Russian regional administration is aware of the practice.
Thousands of people in eastern Ukraine were already missing before February 24, 2022.
It was only in February 2023 that the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP, based in The Hague) spoke of "tens of thousands of missing persons".
Many of them are being looked for: “When it comes to soldiers, we talk a lot to comrades who were closer than everyone else and who may have seen the people for the last time.
We always ask about the time, place and circumstances," said Oleh Kotenko, Ukraine's missing persons officer, in an interview with Die
in September 2022. He had been helping to search for missing people in eastern Ukraine since 2014 and was through the Russian attack come to Ukraine to his official post.
He couldn't reveal all the methods, many of which were supported by civilians, and drones were also used to fly over battlefields.
He says: “If there are corpses on the street, we will look for graves later.
If there aren't any, someone was probably arrested and taken away." (