Satellites show alarming levels of detention camps in Russia

A day later on the sixth anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine, a new report reveals unprecedented information about Russia filter camp system in eastern Ukraine, where civilians and prisoners of war are detained, interrogated, and sometimes forcibly deported to Russia. Researchers have also identified what they believe are graves near prison camps for prisoners of war (POWs).

The camps, all in the eastern region of Donetsk, are identified by Conflict Observatory, a US government-funded partnership between Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Laboratory, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, artificial intelligence company PlanetScape Ai, and system mapping software Esri geographic information. Their report used images from Telegram channels, commercial satellites and existing documents to locate camps used by the Russian military to interrogate, detain and register Ukrainian civilians, some of them then forced deportation to Russia.

“This is the first report to reliably identify 21 facilities involved in the screening of Ukrainian civilians,” said Nathaniel Raymond, a member of the Humanitarian Research Laboratory and a lecturer at the School of Global Affairs. Yale’s request, said. One previous intelligence report previously identified 18 suspected filtration centers. “We cannot estimate based on geospatial and OSINT alone how many people are in custody and how many have passed. That is not methodologically feasible. However, we have a feeling that the scale here is covering an oblast, which is equivalent to a state. “

The filtering system, which US government reports show has increased in recent months, is especially difficult to assess for outside human rights and rights groups. Only those authorized by Russian forces can access the camps. However, reports from detainees who have been released from filtering facilities indicate that they have faced interrogation and even torture. Former inmates have reported being held in cells so cramped that they sleep in shifts, have contacts on their phones and biometric data collectand separated from their families.

Although there are no clear figures on how many Ukrainians have been forcibly displaced, the Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights estimates that on June 25, 2022, about 1.7 million people went to Russia. Much Experts described these tactics as genocide.

“Forced expulsion from Ukraine is an illegal transfer of persons protected under the Geneva Conventions,” said Matthew Steinhelfer, deputy assistant secretary at the US State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations. Fourth and international human rights law. “This constitutes a war crime.”

“Witnesses, survivors and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine have reported that Russian authorities transported tens of thousands of people to detention facilities inside Russian-controlled Donetsk, where many were tortured.” , US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in an interview statement released last month. While some were processed by Russian forces and subsequently released, “evidence is growing that Russian authorities are also detaining or disappearing thousands of Ukrainian civilians who did not pass the ‘filter’ process. . Those detained or ‘filtered out’ include Ukrainians considered to be threatened because of possible links to the Ukrainian military, defense forces, media, government and social groups. Civil “.

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