The mayor of Mariupol said Russian troops have taken 31,000 residents “at gunpoint” to “filtration camps” elsewhere in occupied Eastern Ukraine.
Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on Telegram on Friday that he had verified that Ukrainians from Mariupol were being taken to a camp 35 miles away in Novoazovsk near the Russian border.
“People have been waiting there for weeks,” he said as first reported by Ukrinform. “Filtration is very strict - fingerprints are taken, as well as biometrics. They force people to sign various documents.”
Russia has been accused of using mass internment camps during the first and second Chechen wars in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.
In a February 2020 report, Human Rights Watch accused Russian guards of torturing, beating and raping civilians at camps during the second Chechen war after receiving testimony from former detainees.
On Tuesday, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted credible reports of camps where Ukrainians are being separated and forced to hand over their passports and identification cards.
“I do not need to spell out what these so-called ‘filtration camps’ are reminiscent of,” she said. “It’s chilling and we cannot look away.”