June 27, 2022

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Russian soldier sentenced to life imprisonment in first war crimes trial in Ukraine war

Civilians evacuees from Mariupol arrive at the Russian candidacy camp in Bizimeny, eastern Ukraine, on May 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

“What would happen if we cut off your ear?” asked the soldiers Oleksandr Vdovichenko. Then they hit him on the head.

Punches kept coming whenever his investigators—a mix of Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists—did not like his answers, he later told his family.

He asked the men about his politics, future plans, and his views on the war. They checked his documents, took his fingerprints, and stripped him of his clothes to check if he had any tattoos or patriotic marks caused by wearing or carrying military equipment.

“They were trying to beat him with something,” his daughter, Maria Vdovichenko, told CNN in an interview.

Maria said her father received so many blows to the head during interrogation last month that several medical tests have now confirmed that his eyesight has been permanently damaged.

However, Oleksandr was one of the lucky ones. He succeeded in this through “filtration”.

When Russian forces first began capturing villages and towns in eastern Ukraine in early March, after invading the country, evidence began emerging of civilians being forced to undergo humiliating identity checks and often violent interrogations before they were allowed to do so. leave their homes And travel to areas that are still under Ukrainian control.

Three months after the war, The process of dehumanization known as filtration has become part of the reality of life under Russian occupation.

CNN spoke to a number of Ukrainians who have gone through the nomination process in the past two months. Many are afraid to speak out, fearing for the safety of relatives and friends who are still trying to escape from the Russian-controlled areas.

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All of the people CNN spoke to described facing threats and humiliation during the process. Many have witnessed or know people who were captured by Russian forces or separatist soldiers and then disappeared without a trace.

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The Ukrainians must bear the process