Reports Grow of Russian Concentration Camps, Extortion Over Ukrainian POWs

According to reports, Russian-created concentration camps used to house Ukrainian prisoners of war are increasing.

A Russian website that exposes torture, rape of prisoners and corruption, Gulagu.net, used a messaging app called Telegram to report organized concentration camps in the institutions and buildings of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia.

There have also been reports of members of the Russian military demanding money in exchange for the lives of Ukrainian prisoners. These reports come two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in unprovoked attacks.

According to the report, concentration camps have held prisoners in inhumane conditions that don’t have enough individual beds. Gulagu.net says that the 15 people held in a Moscow detention center are in a cell with only ten beds.

“[Detention centers] are actually concentration camps for prisoners of war are filled with Ukrainian soldiers captured on the battlefield,” said the report.

“Prisoners of war are handled by employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service, the FSB, the National Guard, and secret agents from among convicted activists, many of whom were transferred from torture correctional colonies and pre-trial detention centers.”

One message on Telegram from the group described a camp in the Kharkiv region, saying, “The Russian military took one of the production facilities of Volchansk, Kharkiv region, to Russia, and set up a concentration camp and a prison on its territory, where prisoners are tortured.”

The message continued, “The head of the Kharkiv OVA [military administration] Sinegubov: ‘People are forced to cooperate and join the ranks of the armed forces of the Russian Federation by torture.’”

Eyewitnesses support claims of camps

A woman and man who recently escaped from Mariupol told the BBC that they witnessed a so-called Russian “filtration camp” in person. “It was a true concentration camp,” a 49-year-old man told the BBC.

Officials in Ukraine have compared the camps to those used when Russia was at war with Chechnya. During the war, thousands of Chechens were brutally interrogated, and many vanished, according to the BBC.

A woman told the BBC that elderly people are forced to sleep in hallways without blankets or mattresses, with only one sink and one toilet for thousands of people. “There was no way to wash or clean,” she said. “It smelt extremely awful.”

One Telegram post said, “The Russian military demands the sum of 5,000 euros for the life of a Ukrainian prisoner.”

Additionally, a video was reportedly sent to a Ukrainian prisoner’s mother by Russian soldiers demanding 5,000 euros by a specific day, or she would receive a video of her son’s execution.

“The Russian military is becoming more and more like ISIS militants. Russia should be recognized as a terrorist,” said the post.

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