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A Ukrainian official publicly released a list of Russian prisoners on Friday before explaining that they would be released on one specific condition.
Anton Gerashchenko is an adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs who regularly utilizes social media to reach the public. On Friday morning, he took to Facebook to specifically address Russians.
“I am publishing the first list of prisoners of war soldiers of the Russian Army, deceived into the territory of peaceful Ukraine,” Gerashchenko wrote. “There will be many more such lists, as the lists of dead soldiers of the occupiers. And you know who is to blame for this – Putin!”
The post continued, “Mothers of Russia, come to Kyiv and take your sons. After the hell they endured invading our land, we know for sure that none of them will ever raise a finger against Ukraine again!”
The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine also posted a message regarding the prisoners of war.
“We ask you to deliver this message to the thousands of miserable Russian mothers, whose sons have been captured in Ukraine,” the post reads. “Decision was made to give Russian soldiers taken captive back to their mothers if they come for them in Ukraine, in Kyiv.”
Gerashchenko is a founder of the independent think tank Ukrainian Institute for the Future (UIF). The organization purports to be a “joint project of the Ukrainian representatives of business, politics, and public sector” providing analysis on foreign and domestic policies.
Many of his posts throughout the conflict have related to the capture of Russian soldiers. On February 24 he posted photos with two individuals he reported as the “first Russian prisoners of war” assuring that no harm would come to them.
Like his more recent post, Gerashchenko implored the mothers of Russia to take action, encouraging them to protest against the war, “RUSSIAN MOTHERS! TAKE TO THE STREETS! DEMAND TO STOP THE WAR!”
Gerashchenko’s list contains the names of 96 prisoners of war with instructions on how the mothers’ can reach out to confirm the status of their sons. After receiving confirmation, they are being told to travel to the Polish border where they will be escorted across Ukraine to Kyiv where their son will be released to them.
“We, Ukrainians, unlike Putin’s fascists,” Gerashchenko specified, “do not fight mothers and their captive children. We are waiting for you in Kyiv!”
While Gerashchenko encourages the message to be spread across social media, it remains to be seen how effective that will be considering Russia’s recent actions shutting down platforms like Facebook and Twitter within their nation.
The new Russian law also punishes publication of anything deemed false information with fines and up to 15 years imprisonment. These posts and the reaction from the Russian government signify how critical a role the dissemination of information has been throughout the invasion, regardless of its accuracy.
Both sides have been relying demonizing the other and, in this case, Gerashchenko has been on the frontlines against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this week he called out Putin for threatening nuclear power plants.
“Because of Putin’s madness, Europe is again on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe,” Gerashchenko wrote. “The city where the largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located is preparing for a battle with the invaders.”
“An accident can happen like at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant or the Fukushima nuclear power plant,” he went on. “Russian generals – think again! Radiation does not know nationalities, does not spare anyone!”
For his part, Gerashchenko has made clear that surrendering Russian soldiers are to be taken into custody and cared for, “Their lives are to be protected. They are needed for a prisoner exchange fund.”
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