Humiliation, beatings, constant hunger, overcrowding and no medical assistance. These are the experiences told by some of the victims of the so-called “filtration camps” that Russia has set up in occupied areas of Ukraine.
the nightmare of Ihor Talalay25, lasted exactly 88 days and began on March 19 because someone at a Russian checkpoint did not like his appearance.
This man from Dnipro, in southeastern Ukraine, was part of a volunteer group helping civilians escape from the Russian siege of Mariupol.
When their caravan of cars left with the refugees, they had to pass several checkpoints and a Russian soldier detained Talalay. Right there came a first interrogation in which they tried to find some link with the Ukrainian army.
At these checkpoints, the Russian military forced to undress, search for tattoos or skin marks, such as bruises, that may indicate the use of weapons. Also they check cell phones for any Ukrainian national or nationalist symbols.
“They started beating me to get the answers they expected from me. They stayed like that for about an hour, beating me over and over again.”Talalay says.
The young man is one of two survivors of the Russian filtration camps who offered their testimony this week at an event organized by Ukraine at the headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna.
In addition, two relatives of Serhii Tabachukinterned in one of these camps and of which they have not heard for months.
The four are part of a study by the Ukrainian NGO “Media Initiative for Human Rights” (MIHR), which has documented the existence of at least 18 of these filtration fields and estimates that tens of thousands of Ukrainians have already passed through these centers since the beginning of the Russian invasion five months ago.
Stanislav Miroshnychenkoa member of that NGO, explains that ehe filtration process has three different stagesgradually escalating violence, from interrogation and personal data collection to torture.
If the first interrogation is “approved”, a paper stamped with the signature of the supervising officer is obtained.Otherwise, a captivity full of violence and pressure begins.
Miroshnychenko highlights the systematic nature of the whole process.
The first stage takes place at a security checkpoint, where documentation and belongings are checked, and if the suspect is suspected,e sends him to a first field where he is put under more physical and mental pressure.
In case of not passing that second degree, he is transferred to another detention center or directly to a penitentiary colony.where mistreatment and torture are constant, including extrajudicial killings.
The Ukrainian authorities have denounced the arrest, kidnapping and torture of local leaders, journalists, activists and, in general, anyone who is not loyal to the ideas of the Kremlin and its puppet republics.
HUNGER AND OVERCROWDING
For Talalay, the most difficult moment was his confinement in a police center in Donetskwhere, he recalls, he shared a cell of about 10 square meters with about thirty people. “It was like being in a can of sardines”remember.
“All the food they gave us was oatmeal with water for breakfast and a broth for soup the rest of the day. They try to starve you. Hunger is a constant that accompanies you all the time”he explains in statements to Eph in Vienna.
The young man’s nightmare ended in the same arbitrary way it began. One day, without explanation, they let him go and he was able to return to his city.
Russia calls the mere existence of filtration camps a “lie”while the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics of Donetsk Y Lugansk they deny the detention of civilians in what they define as “reception centers”.
Yurii Berezovskya music teacher from Starobilsk, in a part of Lugansk occupied by Russia since March, describes an experience similar to that of Talalay, full of beatings, interrogations, pressure and arbitrary humiliation.
Berezovski passed the filtration process three timesthe last even in Russia, where he was interrogated at a police station by three members of the Russian espionage service FSB wearing ski masks.
He believes that his contact with foreign NGOs, especially German ones, aroused the suspicions of the pro-Russian authorities in Luhansk, who questioned him in the belief that he was a spy.
“The worst thing is the uncertainty. Whenever they let me go they told me they could come back for me. That is why the third time – when they interrogated me in Russia – I told myself that I had to flee, something that I ended up doing through Lithuania, ”confesses Berezovski.
(By Luis Lidon, EFE)
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