Amid the 11th week of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko asserted that the death toll in his city has surpassed that caused by Nazi Germany over a two-year period in World War II.
According to Newsweek, Boychenko posted some grim statistics to his Telegram channel on Saturday.
“In two years, the Nazis killed 10,000 civilians in Mariupol. And the Russian occupiers in two months – more than 20 thousand Mariupol. More than 40,000 people were forcibly deported,” Boychenko wrote.
“This is one of the worst genocides of civilians in modern history. The Russian army is purposefully and ruthlessly destroying our city and its inhabitants.”
Boychenko also said the Russians “have already illegally deported as many Mariupol residents as Hitler’s troops during the years of occupation.”
“Racism is the fascism of the 21st century,” Boychenko continued. “No doubts or illusions. Mankind has paid a high price for the victory over fascism in the last century. If we do not unite today and do not stop this evil, the price this time may be much higher.”
In the devastated city, civilians have recently been sheltering at the Azovstal Steel Plant complex. While there have reportedly been cease-fires to allow civilians to evacuate safely, conflicting reports have emerged of Russian troops foiling evacuation attempts.
The besieged seaport is also where a theater sheltering women and children was bombed by Russian forces in mid-March. Outside, on each end of the theater, the word ”children” had been painted in Russian.
According to Newsweek, Sergei Orlov, the deputy mayor of Mariupol, said nearly 1,200 people took refuge in the theater. Some women and children were able to escape, Orlov said, however, the number of deaths is unknown.
After the bombing, Boychenko said it was a ”genocide.”
“The only word to describe what has happened today is genocide, genocide of our nation, our Ukrainian people,” the mayor said.
An accurate count of civilian deaths in Mariupol has not been available since the war began on Feb. 24. The City Council initially said that 10,000 had been killed but has since updated the number to at least 20,000.