war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia begins ‘inventory’ to steal Ukrainians’ homes in occupied Mariupol

Halya Coynash
Russia is not content with having destroyed most of Mariupol’s infrastructure, and having killed vast numbers of civilians, but is now seeking to deprive residents of those homes it did not earlier destroy
Mariupol devastated by the Russian invaders Photo Mariupol City Council
Mariupol devastated by the Russian invaders Photo Mariupol City Council

The Russian occupation administration in occupied Mariupol has begun a so-called ‘inventory’ of residential buildings, with the aim almost certainly to appropriate the homes of those who managed to leave the city after Russia’s full-scale invasion. 

The invaders’ ‘order’ regarding such an inventory was first posted by Mariupol’s real Mayor Vadym Boichenko on 27 October.  The invaders, he said, had ordered a full inventory of all apartment blocks and houses, with this to be carried out by ‘working groups’.  Property whose owners were found to not be in Mariupol was to be added to a particular list, with the aim clearly to take their property from them. 

The Russian invaders destroyed our city”, he said, “and now they want they want to take what remained intact from people who were fleeing for their lives from the shelling.”   They were seeking to give this legitimacy by pointing to the owners’ absence, however none of this has any legal force, Boichenko stressed, with order and legality reinstated as soon as Mariupol is liberated.

It is, unfortunately, clear from Mariupol residents remaining in the city that the situation is even worse than feared. reports, citing “reliable sources” (who would be in danger if named) that Mariupol residents are in panic since many currently live in apartments or houses belonging to relatives, friends or acquaintances.  This is with the permission of the owners, who are probably even pleased to have somebody they trust looking after the place, but now both those living there and the owners are in danger of losing their homes.

Although the Russians claim that the inventory is aimed solely at establishing properties whose owners have died, Mariupol residents report that the occupation administration is threatening to evict those who cannot produce documents proving their property rights.  One resident, identified only as Oksana D., told that the Russians were not content with those apartments that they had already managed to extort from the population and were now looking for new properties for themselves, or for those who’ve come from Russia. 

The publication notes that Russia is now making the situation even more difficult.  If, in 2022, during a first ‘inventory’, people were allowed to go to a Russian consulate and obtain authorization to look after property until the rightful owners returned, now such notarized authorization is not recognized.  

Russia is thus forcing people to appear themselves in occupied Mariupol in order to obtain the relevant documents.  This is immensely dangerous, as several Ukrainians learned to their cost even before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.  They include Oksana Parshyna who was in her third month of pregnancy when she set off for occupied Donetsk in order to transfer the land she owned into her sister’s name out of fear of losing it.  She was purportedly suspected of ‘spying’ and held prisoner for many months.  Oleksandr Marchenko also tried to reach Donetsk to retrieve property (a vintage car) and was seized, tortured and then subjected to a ‘trial’ on grotesquely fabricated charges in Russia.   The 52-year-old recognized political prisoner was sentenced to ten years and remains imprisoned. The list can be continued, with the danger now since Russia launched its full-scale invasion likely to be even greater. points out that the property of those who left occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast in 2014 was not taken away.  Yes, local journalists recounted cases where “top bandits from ‘DPR’ seized private buildings that took their fancy, however this was never on a mass scale, or systematic.

These new plans will not be the first time that local residents have been deprived of their homes by the Russian invaders.  Russian bombing and shelling of the besieged city destroyed around 90% of Mariupol’s infrastructure, and the activities since Russia gained full control have been highly specific.  While entire areas, and the homes they contain, remain half-destroyed and absolutely not suited for the rapidly approaching winter, other buildings, especially in the centre have been rebuilt, just not for their legitimate owners.  The latter have discovered that such new buildings are now ‘for sale’, with the price and the mortgage arrangements meaning that the local residents, and real owners of the land in question cannot afford to ‘buy’ the replacement to what Russian destroyed (more details here).

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