The Ukrainian authorities accuse Moscow of collecting civilians from Mariupol and sending them to camps where they are interrogated before being released or sent to Russia.
The so-called “filter” camps. Alexander and Olena, both from Mariupol, managed to leave the coastal city, which is besieged by the Russian forces who now want to capture the Azovstal complex. However, the two Ukrainians have not arrived directly in the free zone since they were first taken to a refugee camp run by Russians in a former school in the village of Nikolsky, northwest of Mariupol.
“It was like a real concentration camp,” the 49-year-old Ukrainian woman told the BBC. Olena says older people have to sleep without mattresses or duvets: “There was only one toilet and one sink for thousands of people. […] It was impossible to wash or clean it, it smelled very bad. ”
Russian officers took Alexander and Olena’s fingerprints, photographed and interrogated them for several hours. Russian authorities also searched their cell phones, looking at their photos, phone exchanges and communications in an attempt, they said, to find links with Ukrainian journalists or authorities.
“If someone is suspected of being a ‘Ukrainian Nazi,’ they will take him to Donetsk for further interrogation or kill him,” Alexander says, explaining that they finally managed to get to Lviv, one of the largest and still safe cities in the country.
A testimonial similar to that of Dmitry, collected by our colleagues from France info. This other inhabitant of Mariupol also left the city with his family but had to go first to Mangouch, another nomination camp run by Russian soldiers.
“They take our fingerprints and check our passports, but above all they are under very intense pressure,” he told French media, referring to “psychological violence, with long and very aggressive interrogations.” […] All this to allow only a dozen a day out of the hundreds who wait.
More than 600,000 refugees in Russia
Ukrainian authorities claim that these Russian-run camps are similar to those seen during the Second Chechen War. The number of refugees in Russia stood at 605,815 as of April 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The numbers have not been updated since then. UNHCR also reports that between February 18 and 23, 105,000 people crossed from the pro-Russian separatist territories of Donetsk and Lugansk (eastern Ukraine) into Russia.
Last week, Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia on BFMTV of detaining Ukrainians who had fled to these “special camps”.
“Everyone who went to the lands controlled by the Russians has disappeared,” the Ukrainian president lamented on our antenna. “You should know that all these people have disappeared, including many children who went in this direction. They are in special camps on Russian soil. It is a great tragedy.”
Red Cross accuses Ukraine of ‘colluding’ with Russia
On April 21, a Ukrainian parliament human rights official criticized the International Committee of the Red Cross for not cooperating with her country on the fate of Ukrainian refugees in Russia, saying it was “complicit” in the “deportations”.
“Where are they? In liquidation camps? In temporary homes? We have testimonies of people who have been brought” to Russia, she said, adding that she had asked her Russian counterpart to provide her with lists of Ukrainian refugees in Russia.
The International Committee of the Red Cross “strongly rejected these false accusations”, reassured once again that it “does not carry out forced evictions”, and recalled that the organization “facilitated the voluntary safe crossing of civilians and wounded people to other cities. Ukrainians.”