“I felt like a prisoner”.Ukrainians explain in their own words that they have been waiting for days at the border between Russia and her EU

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Over the past two weeks, long queues have formed at Russian checkpoints on the borders of Estonia and Latvia. But most of those waiting among them are not Russians who escaped mobilization. They are Ukrainians who have fled to his EU from Russia’s occupied territories following the annexation of their homeland by Russia. But Russian border guards appear to be doing everything they can to slow the process, with refugees waiting for days in freezing temperatures and forced to sleep in waiting rooms at border crossings. Medusa asked two of her Ukrainians who entered Estonia to share their experiences.


renamed at his request

there was only one exit [from the Ukrainian territories recently annexed by Russia] Left to Ukraine – Via [the city of] Vasilyvka in the Zaporizhzhya region. Closed during the preparation period until September 23rd pseudo referendumConfinement for men aged 18 to 35 [of the region]we thought they were [the Russian authorities] will start [mobilizing] People are on their side so we decided to get out of there rather than wait. Some decide to go to Crimea, but being in Russia is terrifying. There are more soldiers there than civilians.

On September 25th, my wife and I left the occupied territories. [in the Zaporizhzhia region] for Crimea. From there, he traveled through St. Petersburg to Ivangorod, where he met refugees from Ukraine.

Arrived at the border checkpoint in the afternoon of September 30th. there were about 10 people [waiting in line]We thought, “Okay, it won’t take long.” Then the Russian made people in line make a list of everyone in order of arrival and realized there were already 60 people on the list. Then they get the list, enter the person into the database and call them. [in order]All 60 people on the list arrived on September 29th, and only 8 made it through the day. Flash forward two days later — that’s when we arrived. Now they are starting to take about 40 people daily and about 6-8 people every 4-6 hours.

The only good thing is that the border patrol let us into the checkpoint building [rather than making us wait outside]A woman got angry. Can’t you go a little faster? A border guard came out and said, ‘The first 25 people on the list can stay inside and the rest can go outside.’ But then she changed her mind and let us inside. Everyone slept on the floor, benches and windowsills. I say “I slept,” but it was more like resting.

Even if you have small children, they won’t let you line up. Someone had to be on duty, so I got in line — border crossing conditions change every 15 minutes — and my wife and kids went to the hotel like the rest of the family. .

Further border trouble

Russians and Estonians can cross the border within 5 minutes. 1 [Russian], standing side by side with us refugees, got angry: “What’s going on here? Can we stand in this line?” Then one of the border guards pointed to the queue for Russians and said, We found ourselves treated like cattle. plus, all who had to wait [in the border checkpoint] I froze and caught a cold. will they kick us out [of the building for no reason]or they said the floor must be swept at 4 or 6 in the morning [and kick us out for that reason]They may not have let us back for 30 minutes and it was 7 degrees [Celsius, or 45 degrees Fahrenheit] outside in the daytime. it was cold. And stress and travel had already taken their toll. […]

[One it was your turn], in the filtering zone, they pick up your phone, say “Give me your PIN”, take it and run the program. Who knows what they got into. Maybe they tapped the phone — anything is possible. We didn’t see his phone for 15-30 minutes. For some, it was hours.

You go ask questions while they hold your phone. they ask. What was life like in Ukraine before this? Why go abroad? Why don’t you want to stay in Russia? ” They ask about your parents, sisters and brothers. They asked, “We brought you the Russian world, but you don’t like it, do you?” Such a provocative question. Some people have been asked, “What do you think of our president?” Putin meaning. They finally let us through.

On the Estonian side, we passed in 30 minutes. […] We are now in Estonia. I read the news that Melitopol and Kherson are already recruiting men. I have no plans to return to Ukraine until things settle down.


Traveled from the occupied Kherson region of Ukraine to Ivangorod via Crimea and St. Petersburg before crossing to Estonia

for a long time, [my family and I] We all thought something would change. everyone was telling me What are you doing here? ‘ I was reluctant at first, but then ‘referendum” was the final turning point. […]

[At the Russian border with Estonia,] We asked who was in line and they added us to the list. Only two people spent the day. About 100 people were lined upAnd it was past lunch time. That’s when I realized how long I had to wait.

Many were children and pensioners. The only hope was that men and women over 60 could skip the line. But if someone over 60 travels with her 40 year old child for example, they stay with the child. Another problem was small children. I also had a 3 month old baby. [at the border].

I don’t know why [the Russian border checkpoint] no bathroom at allThe territory does not have one. There may be one in the building, but the employee probably needs one. When I heard a woman ask her employee, the employee replied: [near the border checkpoint] And behind bushes. […]

no water [in the border checkpoint] Jeez. After drinking everything I brought, I bought some in town. Some volunteers brought not only hot water but also bottled water. We brought food, but volunteers also brought soup, cookies, pastries, and gingerbread.

Volunteering was magical. No matter what happens, they will help you from A to Z, even at night. Never in my life have I needed to ask a volunteer for help.

At the border I had to hand over my cell phone. it was a must. I was told that if it was locked I would have to unlock it or provide the password. My lock has been released. They then asked me to leave the room. Even family members are not used to looking at mobile phones. Because it’s my personal space. The photos and fingerprints they took were also impressive, but that was the most impressive thing. I mean, I felt like a prisoner of sorts, even though I’m just a citizen of a foreign country.

if they did [document check] With the standard method, it would have taken less than 30 minutes, but it took 4 or 5 hours once we got into the room. The rest of the time we just sit and wait. We were able to cross the Estonian border much faster.

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