MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. Deputy Head of the DPR's People's Militia Eduard Basurin said that information that civilians are allegedly among the remaining Ukrainian forces blocked at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol is false.
"As of now, as far as I recall, the head of the republic stated that there are no civilians there. Any bit of fake news that would help them (Ukrainian forces - TASS) survive, I think, they will always use. A girl, a boy, a wife, a woman, a grandmother - for them it will be an excuse to stop the bombardment of the territory and for nobody to storm this facility. I think that everything is done for the sake of this," he told the Russia-24 TV station.
That said, he reiterated that earlier, the militants of the Ukrainian nationalist Azov battalion were holding civilians hostage as living shields in one of the city’s factories.
As Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said earlier, the remaining Ukrainian grouping in Mariupol is blocked at the Azovstal plant, the rest of the city has been completely cleared. According to him, no more than 2,500 Ukrainian troops remain at Azovstal, including the militants of the Azov nationalist group and foreign mercenaries. Russian servicemen offered them to surrender from 06:00 Moscow time until 13:00 Moscow time on Sunday.