No news of missing Ukrainian defenders of Azovstal, say some families

“I haven’t been in contact with my husband or got any information about him lately,” said Anna Ivleva, the wife of Anton, a sailor seriously injured during the Russian siege of the factory. Mariupol.

It’s been over a month since she spoke to him.

“The last time we spoke was April 13. And then his brothers in arms were texting me saying he was still alive,” Ivleva said.

Although Ukrainian government officials have been in contact, she has “no information” about where the Azovstal fighters are being held and under what conditions, she told CNN.

Yet she hopes her husband is still alive, even though he is in captivity.

“All of us, the families, the wives and the mothers of the Marines, we stick together, we are always in touch with each other 24/7,” she said. “We always exchange all available news, we are like a family.”

After a long siege, the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol fell under full Russian control earlier this month with the surrender of Azovstal, the city’s last Ukrainian defense stronghold.

It’s unclear how many Ukrainian soldiers are currently being held by Russia, but the Russian military said more than 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been there.

Russian state propaganda demonized the Azovstal defenders as “Nazis”, raising serious concerns about how they might be treated in captivity.

Another woman named Yana – whose boyfriend is a Marine who was in Azovstal – spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, citing security concerns.

“I haven’t heard of him or anything about him,” she said. “The last time we were in contact was May 11.”

The Ukrainian government has not provided any information on the whereabouts of her boyfriend, she said.

“My boyfriend’s mother was contacted by [the International Committee of the Red Cross]I don’t remember exactly when,” she said. “They just told him he was alive, that’s all.”

The ICRC has been helping register fighters leaving the Azovstal factory since May 17, in part to help prisoners of war stay in touch with their families. The organization has been working in Ukraine since 2014, when the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region started.

Another wife of an Azovstal defender, Tetiana, said her husband managed to call her from an unknown number after the surrender and said some of his comrades were being held in a town in the region Donetsk separatist. CNN agreed not to report his last name for the same reasons.

“His voice was calm and confident,” she said. “He said the conditions they were kept in were fine. He said it would be possible in the future that they would be allowed to receive parcels.”

Tetiana said she spoke with her husband for about ten minutes and her husband said he would try to call back.

But since then, she too has heard nothing.

“That’s it, no more calls or news,” she said.


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