KYIV -- Russia's mass kidnapping and relocation of Ukrainians are arousing outrage and awakening painful memories for many in Central Asia whose forefathers suffered under Soviet oppression.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and since then, more than eight million people have been displaced within the country, while more than six million refugees have fled across the borders.
Invading forces have made scant progress, but they have been able to hold some areas, including the cities of Kherson and Mariupol, resulting in terror for the local population.
Russian forces killed hundreds of civilians in Irpin and Bucha, Kyiv suburbs, before withdrawing, and outsiders have no way of fully knowing what they are doing in areas that they control.
Besides executing and raping civilians, Russian troops have also been rounding up and shipping Ukrainians by the thousands to Russia or other Russian-held parts of Ukraine, witnesses report.
Almost 1.2 million Ukrainians have been deported to Russia or Russian-controlled territory, according to Ukrainian government estimates.
"Accounts of this brutality and forced displacement are happening right now, as we speak, and these actions amount to war crimes," Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), told the OSCE in Vienna May 12.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is re-enacting paranoid and punitive policies of Joseph Stalin that scarred the entire Soviet Union, including Central Asia, say historians.
What is happening now calls to mind Stalin's repression and forced resettlement of Soviet nationalities (ethnic minorities), said Oleksandr Kucheruk of Kyiv, a historian and director of the Museum of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921.
Stalin sent substantial populations of ethnic Poles, Germans, Koreans and Crimean Tatars, among others, on squalid, crowded trains from European Russia and the Soviet Far East to Central Asia because he did not trust them in the years before and during World War II.
Some groups saw death rates as high as 50% as they were violently removed, according to a historical site maintained by the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
"Stalin had maniacal grievances against entire peoples. They were proclaimed traitors and resettled," Kucheruk said.
"Crimean Tatars were taken away at night, Bulgarians were deported, and peoples of the Caucasus, such as Chechens, were also resettled," he said.
"Russia has always engaged in deportation. It's something that colonisers do. To dominate the territory they've seized, they need to intermix the population, so there's just the Russian world with the Russian language," Kucheruk added.
Two generations of one Crimean Tatar family now have suffered the wrath of pursuing Russian troops.
The Crimean Tatars numbered about 190,000 when Soviet forces forcibly removed them from the Crimean peninsula to Uzbekistan, the Volga basin and Siberia in May 1944.
Their mortality rate during the forced resettlement and first year and a half of exile was somewhere between 20% and 46.2%, according to the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
"It's terrifying that this kind of genocide is being repeated on Ukrainian soil," said Elmira Halimova, a Crimean Tatar who was born in Almalyk, Uzbekistan, because her father was deported there from Crimea.
Now Halimova and her husband, themselves fleeing Russian troops, have fled from Irpin -- where they were living -- to western Ukraine.
"My father and his family lived in Crimea. One day, when he was 11 years old, he went out for a walk in the woods, but when he got home, no one was there. His entire family had been deported to Uzbekistan."
"They had 20 minutes to pack. He was then also deported there, and he spent two years looking for his parents in an alien land," Halimova said.