(FiveNation.com)- Russian President Vladimir Putin is ordering that “correctional colonies” and “correctional centers” be built in the four Ukrainian territories that he illegally annexed last year, according to a report by the defense and national security website 19FortyFive.
Twelve colonies of penitentiaries are reportedly being built in the “self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, seven in the self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic, three in the occupied Kherson province, and two in the occupied Zaporizhzhia province,” according to the outlet.
The decree states that the correctional facilities aim to carry out a “criminal sentence in the form of forced labor.” An analyst at the outlet says that this is political in intent and will result in the terrorization of the populations that remain in these areas. In addition, the facilities will work to actively eliminate traces of the Ukrainian identity and bring back the gulags implemented under the Soviet Union.
This could spell “annihilation” for the Ukrainians in Russia’s occupied territories, which is a concern in talks between Western analysts and policymakers who caution against territorial concessions to end the war. A solution such as that could spell the end for Ukrainians.
Correctional facilities are also considered to be placed in the DNR and LNR, according to Putin’s decree. Since the start of the war, the region has experienced an exodus. Before the war, the DNR population consisted of 2.2 million, the LNR around 1.5 million, the Kherson province around 1 million, and the Zaporizhzhia province around 1.6 million.
At least half of the DNR/LNR population have since fled those areas, resettled, or killed. The populations in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are reportedly likely to have experienced the same fate. The total population in all of these areas is down over 50%, from a total estimation of 6.3 million people to 3 million.
The facilities are not likely to be used for criminals either because the Wagner mercenary group uses them for their contracted armies, the outlet reports.