Sophia Ankel

April 12, 2022

The Insider

Russia plans to send nearly 100,000 Ukrainians as far as Siberia and the Arctic Circle, UK newspaper The Insider reported, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of “special filtration camps” for captured people.  A Kremlin document, cited by The Insider, shows Russia made an emergency order last month to forcibly move 95,739 Ukrainians to far-away regions in Russia.  The document suggests that Ukrainians will not be sent to major cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg, but rather to remote areas located thousands of miles away from their homes.  The areas include the Siberian town of Magadan, the Arctic port of Murmansk, and the Caucasus regions of Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, according to The Insider.

Some Ukrainians are also being sent as far as Sakhalin — a Russian island in the Pacific Ocean, located just north of Japan — The Insider reported. The regions have reportedly been told to update Moscow on new arrivals monthly. The report comes after Ukrainian officials accused Russia of moving thousands of people from Mariupol — a heavily bombarded southern port city in Ukraine — to so-called “filtration camps” along the border before forcibly relocating them to far-away regions in Russia.

In a speech to the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday, Zelenskyy said: “There are mass deportations of people from the occupied areas. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been deported.”  “They are placed in special filtration camps,” he added. “Documents are taken away from them. They are interrogated and humiliated. It is unknown how many are killed.”

The Mariupol City Council said last month that Russians kidnapped 20,000 of the besieged city’s residents.  Several women from Mariupol who said they were forced to go to the “filtration camps” have since spoken to media outlets, including The Guardian and The Washington Post, about what their experience was like. One unnamed woman told the Post that she was brought via bus to the Ukrainian border town of Novoazovsk after Russian soldiers found her sheltering in an underground bunker.

Once in Novoazovsk, the woman told the post she was interrogated by men who said they were part of the Russian security service, the FSB. She said she was photographed and fingerprinted and also had to hand over her phone and passwords.  “At all stages of the journey, we were treated like captives or some criminals. I felt like a sack of potatoes tossed around,” the woman told the Post.

Another unnamed woman told The Guardian that she, alongside “two or three hundred” others, faced interrogation and had her personal items confiscated at the “filtration camp” in Novoazovsk.  “It was very degrading,” she told The Guardian about the interrogation.

Both women were able to break away from their groups and managed to escape to Europe, according to the Post and The Guardian.  Russia has denied that anyone from Ukraine is being relocated against their will, the Post reported.  Last month, the Kremlin said it had rescued 420,000 people “from dangerous regions of Ukraine, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” and evacuated them to Russia, according to the Post.