Ukraine: At least 21 ‘leakage’ sites identified in Russian-controlled territory, Yale University researchers say

The researchers say the sites are being used by Russian forces and their allies to process, register, interrogate and detain Ukrainians trying to leave Russian-occupied territory. The detainees may include civilians and prisoners of war.

The Yale School of Public Health Humanities Research Laboratory (Yale HRL), in collaboration with the Conflict Observatory, supported by the US Department of State, used open source information and high-resolution satellite imagery to map them.​

According to the report, there is evidence that they were established before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and expanded after the capture of Mariupol in April.

“Conditions reported by persons released from the institutions examined here may constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international humanitarian and human rights law,” the study says, adding that “conditions include overcrowding in institutions, lack of access to adequate sanitation. , insufficient food and clean water, exposure to the elements, denial of medical care and use of isolation.”

“In some specific cases, the treatment described to those released, such as the use of electric shocks, extreme conditions of isolation and physical abuse, could potentially constitute torture if proven,” the study says.

In a separate press release on Thursday, the US State Department called the “illegal transfer and deportation of protected persons” described in the study “a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilians and constitutes a war crime.”

The Volnovakha penal colony is one of the places described in the study. Detailed findings suggest that this is a long-term institution for those who did not pass the filtration, along with prisoners of war who surrendered after the capture of the Azovstal metallurgical plant.

The study notes the stories of survivors who, among other things, described: overcrowded cells, forced labor and even torture. Yale HRL said it found two patches of disturbed land along the south and southwest portions of the site that appear to be mass graves.​

The message cited in the report from someone referred to as a “survivor” also claimed that the inmate worked in shifts digging graves inside the colony. In July, there was a deadly explosion that Ukrainian separatists say killed 53 prisoners of war, but the satellite imagery used for the report dates back much earlier.

The Yale study notes that “without further investigation, including the possibility of independent excavations at these sites, it is not possible to make a definitive determination of what these sites may contain based on the evidence contained in this report alone.”

Threats and humiliation

Earlier this year, CNN spoke to several Ukrainians who were “filtered” and said they had to face threats and humiliation during the process. They are said to have been asked about their policies, plans for the future and views on the war. Some of the people who spoke to CNN said they knew of other people who were captured by Russian forces or separatist soldiers and disappeared without a trace.
The Kremlin denies using the so-called filtration camps to cover up crimes and attack civilians in Mariupol.
When Russia is the only way out of the war zone, Ukrainian refugees must hide their hatred

In a Yale study, the Russian embassy in Washington said the system “represents checkpoints for civilians leaving a war zone. In order to avoid sabotage operations by Ukrainian nationalist battalions, Russian soldiers carefully inspect vehicles heading to safe areas.” It adds that he will “detain bandits and fascists” and that the Russian military does not create barriers for civilians, but helps them by providing food and medicine.

In a July report by CNN, Dmitry Vashchenko, a Russian Emergencies Ministry official in Taganrog, said housing would be provided to Ukrainians, who are also free to look for work and send their children to school.

“When hostilities end in the future, all these arrivals may decide to return to their homeland. Those who wish to stay in Russia, the Russian government undertakes such an obligation – they will receive a full range of social services and will be protected,” he said.

When asked about the process of admitting refugees to Russia, he said that there are “filtration points” on the border.

Satellite images from Maxar show a tent city in Bezymenny on March 22.

“They check people who show an aggressive attitude towards the Russian Federation,” he said. “Filtration occurs precisely upon arrival, there are no “mass camps”. These are border crossing points, nothing more.”

The self-proclaimed DPR has denied accusations by the Ukrainian authorities of illegal detention, filtration and mistreatment of Ukrainian citizens and said that those who arrive at the so-called “distributors” receive proper food and medical care.

“The Donetsk Oblast filtration system, administered by Russia and its proxies, represents an urgent human rights emergency,” Yale HRL Executive Director Nathaniel Raymond said in a press release from the Yale School of Public Health. “Today, international observers need unhindered access to these facilities. Every day that passes without the presence of independent monitors in these places increases the risk that serious human rights abuses can occur with impunity.”

According to the research methodology, “each source was evaluated using criteria established by the Berkeley Protocol for Open Source Digital Investigations.”

He added that the data points “have been matched with recent very high resolution satellite imagery. Five independent sources had to confirm the site’s location and the filtering activities believed to have taken place there in order for the site to be included in the report. twenty one sites. have reached or exceeded this threshold.

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