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Video shows Russian ‘filtration camp,’ Mariupol mayor’s office says

Pro-Russian troops on May 1 stand guard at a center for displaced Ukrainians in Bezimenne. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
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Video released by the office of the Mariupol mayor on Thursday claimed to show the inside of a Russian “filtration camp.”

The three clips — released on Telegram — were filmed inside a school in the Ukrainian village of Bezimenne, east of Mariupol, according to geolocation by The Washington Post. The school is on the coast of the Sea of Azov, which is briefly shown in one of the videos.

Men forcibly taken from Mariupol “were placed in the school in Bezimenne village,” according to the accompanying Telegram post, and denied medical assistance. Russian soldiers frequently threaten the detainees with torture and executions, it continued.

Video from the Mariupol mayor’s office on May 5 allegedly showed the inside of a building in Bezimenne, Ukraine, where Ukrainians claimed to be detained. (Video: Telegram)

The mayor’s office also said people were forbidden from bringing personal belongings and their identification papers were confiscated. Instead, they received “filtration” papers, officials said.

In the video, people sleep in classrooms on top of desks. In a gym, three rows of sleeping pads are arranged on the floor. An off-camera voice, walking down a hallway, describes the stench. “A single sink for the whole crowd,” he says. “The toilet, where you can’t step in because it hurts the eyes there, is outside.”

In a different clip, the man filming the video walks into an area he describes as a foyer where the “sick and disabled” are housed in a “sanitary unit.” A person had recently contracted tuberculosis and was placed in isolation, he added, but did not provide more details or evidence.

Satellite images show Russian ‘tent city’ built for Ukrainians

The Post was unable to independently verify these claims, but satellite imagery from late March showed the rapid construction of temporary camps in Bezimenne, just a few blocks north of the school.

Ukrainian officials in March started accusing Russia of forcing civilians out of Mariupol, The Post reported at the time. Russian authorities claimed they had set up temporary camps for Ukrainians displaced by the fighting in Mariupol. They released videos claiming to show their humanitarian activities and interviews with alleged Mariupol residents.

Additionally, planned evacuation routes from Mariupol released by the Russian Defense Ministry on a regular basis since March 7 took residents east through territory controlled by separatists to Rostov-on-Don in Russia. The 100-mile journey followed a highway parallel to the Sea of Azov’s coast, passing by Bezimenne.

As recently as May 1, the Defense Ministry announced in its Telegram channel that “rescued” Mariupol residents had been evacuated to Bezimenne.

Ukraine says Russia forcibly relocated thousands from Mariupol. Here’s one dramatic account.

A young Ukrainian woman told The Post in late March that pro-Russian soldiers forced her and other Mariupol residents to go to a filtration camp. She described men in uniforms calling up civilians one at a time to photograph and fingerprint them before ordering them to turn over their phones and passwords. Then, she said, they were interrogated.

The woman, whom The Post did not identify because of safety concerns about a relative in Russia, said she and others were later bused out of her hometown to another filtration camp near Novoazovsk, a town near the Russian border that is less than an hour’s drive from Mariupol in peacetime, she said. Soldiers there questioned her about whether she had relatives in the Ukrainian military and her thoughts about Mariupol authorities.

“Then they add you to three different databases and take you further, but they don’t tell you where exactly they are leading you,” she recounted.

“At every stage of the way, they tell you that you have to be grateful that you are given a sandwich or evacuated somewhere else, that you have been liberated,” she told The Post, adding, “Liberated from what?”

Arkady Dolina contributed to this report.