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Inside Ukraine's POW camps

After almost a year of intense fighting following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, thousands of soldiers and other militia have been taken prisoner on both sides. Despite regular exchanges of Prisoners of War (POWs), thousands are being held in prison camps in both Russia and Ukraine, though their actual numbers are unknown. As with the number of casualties, both the Russian and Ukrainian authorities keep these figure close to their chest. POWs have become a major bargaining chip and one of the few occasions when the two countries communicate in an ever more vicious and attritional conflict.

Unlike Russia, Ukraine has allowed the UN access to some of its POW camps and has investigated allegations of abuse. Inside the camps, prisoners have a daily schedule of chores and are put to work. Some prisoners arrive at the camps with injuries, including loss of limbs, that need to be treated. Every couple of weeks, prisoners are allowed to call their relatives back home.

Commissioned by the independent media site Meduza which was designated an 'undesirable organisation' by Russia's Prosecutor-general in January 2023, Ukrainian photographer Mykhaylo Palinchak was granted access to one of the POW camps in western Ukraine.
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