The Russian forces that control Mariupol have started requiring permits for cars entering and exiting the occupied Ukrainian city, an adviser to the city’s Ukrainian mayor said Sunday.
Petro Andrushchenko, the adviser, also warned that deportations of Ukrainians from the region were increasing.
Under the restrictions introduced Saturday, cars and passengers entering the city need single-use passes issued by a Russian commandant in Manhush or Vynohradne, towns to the west and east of the occupied city, Andrushchenko said.
Passes to leave the city must be obtained from the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic Ministry of Internal Affairs.
There is already a wait of several weeks for a pass, he said, and traveling within the district without entering the city also requires a pass.
“For those who are going to visit Mariupol, remember, for now, it's a one-way trip,” he warned.
Mariupol, a strategically important port city on the Azov sea, fell under complete Russian control last week with the surrender of the Azovstal steel works, the last stronghold of Ukrainians defending the city.
The Russians are also setting up more checkpoints to control travel in the district, Andrushchenko said.
“Today it is almost impossible to leave the city, even to Berdyansk,” another Russian-controlled city southwest of Mariupol. “As new checkpoints appear, all roads, both official and unofficial, are blocked. Today, it is impossible to bypass the filtration procedure or obtain a pass from the occupying authorities.”
Nearly 50,000 people have been deported from Mariupol by the Russians, he said, adding that Ukrainian authorities are trying to find out where they have been sent.
“The situation is very complicated,” he said. “Most people leave without documents at all…. But there are lucky cases. Not so long ago, 56 Mariupol residents were deported from Penza. And they are already in the Baltic countries.
“We hope that we will be able to get at least some of our people back to Ukraine or to free countries," Andrushchenko said.
He said that 313 people, including 55 children, were deported from Mariupol to the Bezimenne filtration camp on Saturday.
Some 175 people, including 17 children, were deported from Bezimenne to Russia on Saturday, he said, and 70 people, including 12 children, were deported from the filtration point in the village of Nikolske to Russia.
He said it was the first time Ukraine had seen direct deportations from Nikolske to Russia.