Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine has lost control over almost all official state institutions in the temporarily occupied territories. In particular, social and medical institutions - orphanages, geriatric boarding houses, and psychiatric hospitals - came under russian rule.
Currently, there is no exact data on how many such institutions came under the temporary control of the occupiers. It is even more difficult to count the number of people who are there, because the forces of the russian federation, among other things, move them through the occupied territories and also take them to russia.
International and Ukrainian human rights defenders analyzed the state of social and medical institutions in the report "Nine circles of hell: places of detention in Ukraine under russian occupation".
A psycho-neurological institution destroyed by shelling in the city of Oskil, Kharkiv region. Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine
Even in peacetime, social and medical institutions were quite closed, and this gave a lot of space for the violation of people's rights inside, human rights defenders note. However, since the beginning of the russian occupation, such institutions were finally closed for any external visits and supervision, blocking the detainees under the full authority of the russian forces.
Unlike police departments, prisons and detention centers, the russians did not establish a new administration in social and medical care institutions. Moreover, often the occupiers did not interact with such institutions at all. But even the presence of the russian military in the vicinity of psycho-neurological institutions, boarding houses and dispensaries led to a large number of dangers.
Since the start of hostilities, the logistics of replenishing food and basic necessities has deteriorated or been completely destroyed. Institutional administrations used leftover products and relied on alternative resources, such as volunteers or assistance from other specialized institutions. Yes, it was sometimes possible to get medicine at local health care facilities, the report says.
In addition to the lack of food and medicine, regular shelling and interruption of communications - water, heating, electricity - became a significant problem for social and medical institutions.
So, on March 11, 2022, the russian military shelled the Oskil psycho-neurological institution in the Kharkiv region. According to the former director of the Department of Social Protection of the KRMA population, Yury Shparaga, the institution was fired upon by artillery and aircraft.
“The building is damaged, there is no heat, electricity, water. An ammunition was stuck in the wall of the building - one of the rockets fired, which did not explode," he added.
On the same day, the russians shelled a geriatric hospital in Kreminnaya, Luhansk region.
“It was cynical and intentional. They just drove the tank, put it in front of the building and started shooting. 56 people died on the spot," Serhii Gaidai, ex-head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration, noted.
He also added that the russians took about 15 people who survived the shelling out of the hospital and transported them to other institutions in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk region. The fate of other residents of the hospital remained unknown. In the end, the russians buried the dead in Luhansk, not allowing even the native victims to attend relatives.
The practice of moving people without their permission is typical for the forces of the russian federation, human rights defenders note. The ussian occupation authorities repeatedly organized similar deportations of people deep into the temporarily occupied territories, and later to russia.
Among other things, commissioner of the russian president for children's rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, stated that in November 2022, 52 children were taken out of the Oleshkiv psycho-neurological institution. Some were delivered to Skadovsk, others were sent to the Crimea.
As a reminder, according to the Kyiv School of Economics, as a result of the full-scale invasion, 154 institutions of social protection of the population were damaged or completely destroyed, including 46 sanatoriums, 31 psycho-neurological institutions and 43 social centers. Experts estimate losses in the sphere of social protection of the population at 200 million dollars.