Ukrainians decry suffering in Russian-controlled areas
Ukrainian civilians fleeing Russian-occupied parts of the country allege violence, extortion and theft at the hands of Russian troops, not to mention daily humiliation at checkpoints.
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"We suffered and suffered and suffered," said Igor Kydryavtsev, one of 10 Ukrainians who spoke to AFP about living under Russian control in southern Ukraine's Kherson region for around two months.
"If you say a single word in Ukrainian and someone hears you and tells them, they come to your house and take you away," he said.
"Some come back, others don't. You can't live like that."
Kydryavtsev, 35, is with his wife and daughter in Zaporizhzhia, a major southern industrial city still in Ukrainian hands and a gateway for those fleeing the war.
With the frontline only a few dozen kilometres away and Russian troops advancing, hundreds of people arrive in Zaporizhzhia every day from Russian-occupied territory, some just passing through, but others to stay.
Among them is Natacha Borch who, with her two children, two and six, fled the Orikhiv region, south of Zaporizhzhia.