Russia’s Filtration Operations and Forced Relocations
Filtration operations often result in forced deportations of Ukrainians to Russia, detentions, and other abuses.
Russian officials and proxy authorities in Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine are undertaking a monumental effort to “filter” the population as a means of suppressing Ukrainian resistance and enforcing loyalty among the remaining population.
The United States condemns Russia’s “filtration” operations, forced deportations, and disappearances in Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine in which Russia’s forces and proxies have interrogated, detained, and forcibly deported Ukrainian, according to a broad range of sources, between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including thousands of children.
Ukrainian citizens are being taken to filtration camps in a concerted effort to suppress their resistance. Many Ukrainian citizens are facing forced deportations, arbitrary detentions, and torture and other abuses.
While at filtration camps, Ukrainian citizens are often strip-searched for “nationalistic” tattoos, photographed, and have their fingerprints taken. Ukrainian citizens have had their passports confiscated and their cell phones searched, with Russia’s forces sometimes downloading their contact lists.
There is evidence that Russia’s forces have interrogated, detained, and forcibly deported to Russia an estimated hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens, including unaccompanied children, from their homes, often sending them to remote regions in Russia.
The United States has information that officials from Russia’s Presidential Administration are overseeing and coordinating filtration operations. Russia is also using advanced technology to facilitate filtration processes, including for the purposes of collecting data on Ukrainian citizens undergoing filtration.
As part of this effort, the United States has information that over the course of July 2022, more than 1,800 children were reported to have been transferred from Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine to Russia. Once in Russia, some reports indicate that children undergo psychological “rehabilitation” and are forced to complete unspecified educational projects.
Thousands of Ukrainian children were reported to have been transferred to Russia. Once in Russia, some reports indicate that Ukrainian children undergo what Russia refers to as psychological “rehabilitation” and are forced to complete unspecified educational projects.
Some of these children have no identity documents or information on the location of their parents. As part of this forced deportation, plans are being developed to place orphaned Ukrainian children with foster families in Russia, in collaboration with other executive agencies in the Russian government.
Children have been evacuated from Mariupol to Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine, and then to Russia. Some children lack any identity documents or information on the location or whereabouts of their parents.
To facilitate the forced deportation and resettlement of children, officials in Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine are developing administrative arrangements to place orphans with families in Russia, in collaboration with Russian executive agencies.
Separately, as of July 2022, Russian officials reportedly forced prisoners in a Russia-held area of Ukraine to apply for Russian citizenship. Prisoners who refused to apply were subjected to physical and psychological abuse.
The United States supports all international efforts to examine mounting evidence of atrocities and other abuses in Ukraine, including fact-finding missions conducted by the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the Experts Missions established by invocation of the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism, and other efforts. We also support a wide range of documentation initiatives that can support such investigations.
The Kremlin appears determined to erase Ukraine’s existence as a state by attempting to rob it of its future. Russia’s propaganda machine reacted swiftly to the ICC’s decision, with threats of nuclear strikes, false claims about Western “experiments on children” and anti-Russian “hysteria,” calls for the arrest of ICC judges, and claims that Ukraine’s children were taken away “for their safety.” To deflect responsibility, Russia disseminates disinformation and propaganda attempting to distort its abuses as “humanitarian” gestures. Russia also conducts disinformation and propaganda-filled activities aimed at brainwashing children in Russia-occupied parts of Ukraine or children from Ukraine it deports to Russia into believing that the Kremlin is saving them from a “Nazi regime in Kyiv.” Accountability is imperative.
August 24, 2023