Places of forced detention of non-combatant citizens of Ukraine in the Russian Federation and occupied Crimea (English/French)
WARNING! The map may have deviations regarding the accuracy of the labels.
A detailed list of cities can be found in the text below.
Also, you can read the report in French in the application.
Analytical report of the “Tribunal for Putin” coalition
Places of forced detention of non-combatant citizens of Ukraine
in the Russian Federation and occupied Crimea
- The structure of the working group for the preparation of the analytical report
- Context of the research (introductory information)
- Purpose, task and object of research
- Legal status of citizens of Ukraine – non-combatants detained by the Russian Federation, and justification for their detention
- Methodology of collection and description of data
- Annex. Description of places of forced detention of non-combatant Ukrainian citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation and occupied Crimea
FSES – Federal Penitentiary Service (FSES of Russia) – the federal executive body of the Russian Federation, the leading agency of which is the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, which carries out law enforcement functions, control and supervision functions in the field of execution of criminal punishments for convicted persons, functions for the detention of persons suspected of or accused of committing crimes, and defendants who are in custody, their protection and escort, as well as the functions of monitoring the behavior of probationers and convicts who have been granted a reprieve from serving their sentence by the court.
ONK – Public Monitoring Commission (PMC) – the Public Monitoring Commission for the Protection of Human Rights in Places of Forced Detention is one of 85 regional public bodies in Russia that monitor the observance of human rights in places of forced detention in the respective region
PTR – Points of temporary placement of foreign citizens
RF – Occupying power
The structure of the working group for the preparation of the analytical report
The analytical report was prepared by representatives of organizations that are part of the “Tribunal for Putin” civil initiative:
Mykhailo Savva – member of the expert group of the Center for Civil Liberties, doctor of political sciences, group leader.
Nataliya Yaschuk – the coordinator of national projects of the Center for Civil Liberties.
Oleksandr Pavlichenko -the executive director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union for Human Rights.
*Translation to English, French done by NGO FUVI /Ukrainian Volunteer Fund
Context of the research (introductory information)
Russian invasion forces during the occupation of Ukrainian territories kidnapped and continue to kidnap civilians who are in locations of forced detention both in the occupied territories of Ukraine and in the Russian Federation. The exact number of Ukrainian civilians who are deprived of their freedom is unknown. In June 2022, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, the Minister of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk stated about 1.5 thousand illegally detained Ukrainian civilians: “There are more than one and a half thousand civilians in Russian prisons – they are located in Rostov, Kursk, they are in a prison situation, they are detained as prisoners of war, although they should not be prisoners.”
According to the Vice-Prime Minister, among the civilians deported to the Russian Federation are volunteers, activists, journalists, priests, deputies of local councils, heads of united territorial communities, and heads of local communities. In the same speech, the Vice-Prime Minister of Ukraine noted that the Russian Federation only admits that it is holding 120 Ukrainian civilians in detention.
According to the information available to the authors of the analytical report, the official representatives of the Russian Federation hide information about the number and places of detention of Ukrainian citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation and in the annexed Crimea. Russian lawyers, in the case of turning to the management of regime institutions with demands to visit a specific citizen of Ukraine, receive a refusal with the motivation that there is no such person in this institution.
The Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences of the Russian Federation does not include citizens of Ukraine, military and civilians in the official statistics of people held in custody. FSES of Russia responded to the Kommersant newspaper’s inquiry about the lack of places in pretrial detention centers – according to the agency, Russian detention centers are 96% full. However, human rights activists insist that there is a serious exaggeration of the capacity limit in Moscow detention centers, and point to hundreds of “extra” detainees in SIZO-1 alone (Russian: “Matrosskaya Tyshina”). “Kommersant” interviewed representatives of regional offices of FSES and members of ONK and was convinced that the situation in a number of regions is similar to the situation in the capital.
As of August 1, 2022, 114,172 people were held in Russian pre-trial detention centers, the FSES of the Russian Federation reported to Kommersant. At the same time, the country’s detention centers are designed for a total of 118,495 people. “The general capacity limit has not been exceeded,” concluded the federal FSES. — This number (the number of detainees as of August 1. — “Kommersant”) is 4% less than the general capacity limit.
“In May 2022, Eva Merkacheva, a member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation and the Public Observation Commission (OCC) of Moscow, stated that the capital’s pre-trial detention centers faced a “terrible over-limit”. According to her, they were designed for 9,000 people, but they turned out to be occupied by 2,786 more. At the same time, the problem of exceeding the limit was confirmed by the FSES of Russia. The head of the department for the execution of sentences and special accounting, Ihor Vedinyapin, stated that one quarter of Russian detention centers — 50 out of 203 — were overcrowded. At the same time, interlocutors in the regional ONK and FSES offices in May called as one of the reasons for the “over-the-limit” the “special military operation”, due to which part of the premises of Russian pre-trial detention centers and colonies were taken over for Ukrainian citizens.
628 Ukrainian civilians were included in the database of the Ukrainian human rights organization of the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) after the beginning of the large-scale aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine on 24.02.2022: 10 of them were later found killed, 230 people were released, and 328 are in captivity, including on the territory of the Russian Federation. This number is not final, the database only includes people whose abductions we reliably known. This base includes representatives of various social and professional groups. Some Ukrainian civilians were detained by the invading forces on the basis of denunciations or on suspicion of aiding the Armed Forces of Ukraine (ZSU), regardless of their occupation or social status.
The situation of Ukrainian civilians abducted by the Russian Federation is less defined than that of prisoners of war. International humanitarian law provides for the possibility of exchanging prisoners of war, but these norms do not apply to the civilian population. Convention (IV) on the Protection of the Civilian Population in Time of War dated August 12, 1949 allows in certain cases the internment of civilians. However, citizens of Ukraine were not officially interned in Russia.
Internment orders provided for in Article 42 of the Convention were not adopted, citizens abducted in Ukraine were not given the right to appeal internment decisions in accordance with Article 43.
Article 78 of the Convention provides that decisions on internment must be made in accordance with the normal procedure to be determined by the occupying power in accordance with this Convention. This norm is not observed by the Russian Federation. In all cases when the Russian authorities answered questions about the status of abducted Ukrainian civilians, the reason for the detention was called “counteraction to a special military operation.” These answers are signed by military police officers of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, which suggests that these people are illegally treated as prisoners of war.
Detention, transfer to the Russian Federation and forced detention of Ukrainian civilians is a clear violation of their rights and creates extremely high risks to their lives, health and human dignity.
Purpose, task and object of research
The purpose of this analytical material is to provide generalized information about places of forced detention in the Russian Federation and the annexed Crimea of Ukrainian citizens who are not combatants. This information is necessary for making decisions and actions regarding the protection of rights and the release of Ukrainian civilians.
The tasks of the research are:
1. Describe each place of forced detention of Ukrainian civilians in terms of its compliance with international humanitarian law.
2. Describe violations of international humanitarian law against Ukrainian civilians.
3. To propose areas of activity and specific actions for the benefit of Ukrainian civilians detained in the Russian Federation and the annexed Crimea.
The analytical material is devoted to two groups of Ukrainian citizens who are forcibly detained in the Russian Federation and Crimea.
The first group. Citizens of Ukraine detained “for opposing a special military operation” in the occupied territories. In official responses, representatives of the Russian military police write that these people are being held in accordance with the norms of the Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
This is written, for example, in the reply to the relatives of Yevgeny Guryanov and Serhii Lyubich dated August 17, 2022 by the Deputy Chief of the Main Department of the Military Police of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Major General Vitaly Koch. Thus, these citizens of Ukraine have the status of prisoners of war. They are held in the Russian Federation and in the occupied territories in pretrial detention centers, prisons, correctional colonies; and women are detained in one colony-settlement. On the territory of the Russian Federation and in Crimea, where the Russian system of government operates, as of October, we discovered 23 places of forced detention where these people are definitely or probably held. These are institutions of the Federal Penitentiary Service (subordinated to the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation) and the Ministry of Defense (guard watch of the Sevastopol garrison).
We cannot in all cases, based on the available information, accurately determine whether only Ukrainian civilians, only prisoners of war, or both categories are in this regime institution. The geography of their placement is from the Belgorod region to the Krasnoyarsk region. In all cases, they are held separately from Russians, in separate institutions or separate locations within institutions. The exact number of persons who belong to this group – category is unknown. According to the analysis of the registry of the Center for Civil Liberties, there are at least 410 such people as of October 2022.
The second group: Citizens of Ukraine who were in Russia before the start of the war and in respect of whom the Russian courts passed a decision on forced return to Ukraine. Courts accept such decisions for administrative violations, for example, failure to extend registration for residence in the Russian Federation. Before the beginning of the Russian aggression, such people were detained in temporary accommodation centers for foreign citizens and then handed over to the Ukrainian authorities. Currently, these people cannot be transferred to Ukraine and they are in the conditions of a penal colony. At the same time, in the case that we are aware of, citizens of Ukraine are in such a center in closed cells, i.e. prison conditions. According to the legislation of the Russian Federation, a person can stay in a temporary residence center for up to 2 years. After that, he/she should be released. But very often, immediately after release, people who cannot be returned to their country of origin are detained again and returned to custody. In fact, these people are serving a sentence in the Russian Federation that they were not sentenced to. Centers for temporary accommodation of foreign citizens belong to the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. As of October 2022, we found one place of forced detention of this group of Ukrainian citizens – the center for temporary accommodation of foreign citizens of the Main Department of Internal Affairs in Moscow. The exact number of such people is unknown. 10 Ukrainian citizens are housed in the temporary accommodation center of the Main Directorate of Internal Affairs in Moscow alone.
We do not consider here the places of detention of prisoners of war citizens of Ukraine and Ukrainian civilians who were taken out of the occupied territories, but who are not in places of forced detention.
Points of temporary placement of foreign citizens (PTR), where some Ukrainian civilians are located in the Russian Federation and Crimea, are not places of forced detention. PTRs are hostels or hotels allocated for temporary accommodation in them. People settle in PTR due to the lack of funds to rent housing, but they can leave these premises of their own free will, for example, rent housing.
Commandants of some PTRs have established additional restrictions for Ukrainian citizens living there. For example, the requirement to indicate the time of departure and return in special logs. However, this does not give grounds for considering the PTR as a place of forced detention.
Legal status of citizens of Ukraine – non-combatants detained by the Russian Federation and justification for their detention
In the answers of authorized officials of the military police of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation about the legal status of Ukrainian civilians, it is said that these people were detained “for opposing a special military operation.” The same reason is indicated in the answers about the legal status of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
International humanitarian law allows for the possibility of detention, arrest and deportation for actions related to armed conflict.
However, paragraph 3 of Article 75 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 for the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1) established that “any person who has been arrested, detained or interned for acts connected with armed conflict, must be informed without delay in a language he understands about the reasons for taking such measures. Except in cases of arrest or detention for criminal offenses, such persons must be released as soon as possible and in any case as soon as the circumstances justifying the arrest, detention or internment have ceased to exist.»
This norm should be interpreted in only one way: after the cessation of hostilities in the territory where people lived before detention, arrest or internment, they should be released by the occupying power. According to this norm of Protocol 1, a significant part of detained Ukrainian citizens should already be released. Military operations are not carried out in any municipality (community) of Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv oblasts, in most communities of Kharkiv oblast. Therefore, in accordance with the requirements of Protocol 1, the Russian Federation must release Ukrainian civilians detained in these territories.
The Russian Federation ignores this norm, actually considering all detained Ukrainians, both combatants and non-combatants, as prisoners of war. In the same answers about the status of detained Ukrainian civilians, officials of the military police of the Russian Federation indicate that “detainees are held in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War” (August 12, 1949, Geneva).
Moreover, the detention of Ukrainian civilians during the Russian occupation was committed in gross violations of international humanitarian law. Article 65 of the Geneva Convention on the Protection of the Civilian Population in Time of War established: “Resolutions issued by the occupying power, which provide for criminal liability, enter into force only after they are published and brought to the attention of the population in its language. The effect of these mandatory decisions should not have retroactive effect.”
It is obvious that the population of the territory of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Federation could not know, in the absence of official information from the occupiers, what prohibitions and restrictions are being introduced in this territory. Also, the population of the occupied territories could not know what actions the Russian military would consider as a “countermeasure to a special military operation.” People could not know about this, because such information was not available before: there were no special military operations, no special legal regulation, the specified territories were not under occupation. Such information was and is extremely important for residents of the occupied territories, since, as it turned out, sanctions in the form of detention and deprivation of liberty are applied on the territory of the Russian Federation for “countering a special military operation.”
However, the occupying power (RF) did not publish or bring to the attention of the population of the occupied territories of Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv and other regions regulations that would contain information about actions involving criminal liability. We are aware of the fact that the occupiers distributed leaflets with calls for submission and specific demands only in Energodar, Zaporizhzhia region, in April 2022. These leaflets contained a warning: in order to trade, entrepreneurs must negotiate with the self-proclaimed head of the occupation administration. However, these leaflets do not contain information about the actions that the occupiers will consider as “a countermeasure to a special military operation.”
In this way, the Russian Federation violated the requirements of international humanitarian law to inform the population of the occupied territories of the resolutions that provide for responsibility for “countering a special military operation.” Norms of such resolutions enter into force only after they are published and brought to the attention of the population in the language of the local population. In this regard, the detention of civilians for “countering a special military operation” is not based on the norms of law, and these people should be released.
In some of the cases known to us, Russian officials conducted checks on detained Ukrainian citizens regarding the commission of the crime provided by Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – “Espionage” by Ukrainian citizens. The result of the inspection was an official warning: “in case of carrying out similar activities after release, this person will be held criminally liable.” In most of the cases known to us, such checks were not carried out.
Ukrainian civilians detained and taken to the Russian Federation are not prisoners of war. The conditions of detention of prisoners of war and detained civilians are determined by various international conventions. The detention of Ukrainian civilians “in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War” violates the norms of international law: humanitarian, human rights and criminal law.
The norms of the Convention on the Protection of the Civilian Population in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) and the First Protocol to this Convention should apply to citizens of Ukraine – non-combatants detained by the Russian Federation for opposing a special military operation.
Violating the norms of international conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war and the protection of the civilian population (the third and fourth Geneva Conventions), the Russian Federation:
1. Considers Ukrainian civilians who did not take part in hostilities as prisoners of war.
2. Conceals places of detention of Ukrainian citizens from relatives of detained Ukrainians, lawyers and members of public supervisory commissions of subjects of the Russian Federation for monitoring human rights in places of forced detention.
3. Permits or initiates torture of Ukrainian citizens in places of forced detention on the territory of the Russian Federation: torture by starvation; stun gun; beating; compulsions to perform physical exercises until unconsciousness; burning tattoos on the skin using flammable liquids; forced to cut off the tattoo.
4. Initiates degrading treatment of Ukrainian citizens: they are forced to sing the national anthem of the Russian Federation and Russian songs, specially selected “for educational purposes” of the repertoire, for example: “Slavic Sky”, “Katyusha”, “Uncle Vova” (a song about Putin) and the like. Also, citizens of Ukraine were forced to shout the following slogans: “Glory to Russia”, “Ahmad is strength!” (Comment: to honor Ahmad Kadyrov, the father of the current President of Chechnya) at the command of the staff of places of forced detention.
5. Limits the correspondence of detained citizens of Ukraine with their relatives. In the cases known to us, Ukrainians were allowed a maximum of one letter to relatives.
6. Does not allow parcels to detainees from their relatives or other people.
Methodology of collection and description of data
The methodology is determined by the applied goal of our research. We proceed from the fact that it is necessary to take a complex of interconnected measures as soon as possible, aimed at protecting the rights and interests, and ultimately – at the release of Ukrainian civilians forcibly detained in the Russian Federation and Crimea.
- We admit that our information about places of forced detention of Ukrainian civilians is not complete. We do not know all the places of forced detention, we do not know the exact number of citizens of Ukraine in each place of forced detention. It is unlikely that such information can be complete at all, since it is constantly changing. But the incompleteness of the information does not prevent the actions of rights protection we can take.
- We use four main types of information sources to prepare analytical material:
1. Information from open sources (publications in the mass media, official statistics, speeches of officials, descriptions of places of forced detention on the official websites of the departments of the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences of the Russian Federation and unofficial resources). When possible without disclosing personal data, we provide links to such sources, which allows you to verify the information used. We provide contact details of Russian detention facilities based on official information from open sources, such as the portal of the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences of the Russian Federation and others.
2. Official responses of public authorities of the Russian Federation to inquiries about the fate of Ukrainian citizens forcibly detained in the Russian Federation and annexed Crimea. When quoting such answers, we do not indicate the personal data of the addressees. These are relatives of Ukrainian citizens detained in the Russian Federation and Crimea, and in the conditions of an extremely brutal war, we do not want to put these people at risk. We disclose the personal data of people in captivity only if their free relatives have already publicly disclosed their personal data.
3. Information from the Red Cross to relatives of Ukrainian citizens about the whereabouts and health status of forcibly detained people.
4. Testimony of witnesses (citizens of Ukraine who were released and left the Russian Federation; Russian prisoners; relatives of Russian prisoners; employees of places of forced detention).
We divide witnesses into two groups:
- internal witnesses – people who are or have been in a place of forced detention. They include both Ukrainians who were there and were released (civilians and combatants), as well as employees of institutions where Ukrainian citizens are detained. A number of released Ukrainian citizens gave interviews to representatives of human rights organizations about the places of forced detention and the conditions there.
- employees of institutions where Ukrainians are detained did not give interviews. But these people in various formats verbally provided information on the basis of which conclusions can be drawn. We do not disclose the personal data of witnesses in order not to expose them to the risk of persecution by the Russian Federation.
- We compare information about places of forced detention from different sources, if this is possible. In some cases, we indicate that the information needs clarification. For example, there is information about the presence of Ukrainians in some place of forced detention from external witnesses (journalists, prisoners of a nearby Russian prison). But these people do not know whether prisoners of war or Ukrainian civilians are being held there. We are sure of the very fact that Ukrainian citizens are there, but in the future it is necessary to clarify who exactly is being held there.
- We make a description of places of forced detention according to a single format in tabular form. This makes it possible to compare the conditions of detention of Ukrainian citizens and the extent of violations of international humanitarian law against these people in different places of forced detention, as well as to provide information more compactly.
- Non-combatant citizens of Ukraine are detained in the Russian Federation and the annexed Crimea in regime institutions of three federal agencies: the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences (prisons, correctional colonies, settlement colonies, pretrial detention centers, correctional centers), which is part of the system of bodies of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation; Ministry of Internal Affairs (temporary detention centers for foreign citizens); Ministry of Defense (guards of commandants of military garrisons). In the temporary detention centers of foreign citizens of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, not only prisoners of war and Ukrainian civilians kidnapped in the occupied territories are detained, but also citizens of Ukraine who previously lived in the Russian Federation and in respect of whom court decisions on deportation were issued.The suspension of communications between Ukraine and the Russian Federation has created a situation where representatives of this category of Ukrainian citizens cannot be sent to their homeland.
- The Russian Federation, in violation of the norms of international humanitarian law, considers non-combatant citizens of Ukraine as prisoners of war who have been detained “for resisting a special military operation.” This allows the Russian authorities not to release Ukrainian civilians until the end of the war.
- The Russian Federation, in violation of the norms of international humanitarian law, holds most or all of the interned civilians and prisoners of war in prison conditions, that is, in closed cells without the possibility of free movement within the premises of the institution. Such detention conditions are not determined by the security interests of Ukrainian citizens.
- The Russian Federation holds many Ukrainian civilians in detention facilities. In such institutions, there is no provision for providing prisoners with seasonal clothing at the expense of the state. The suspects are in the pretrial detention center in their clothes. Despite the statements in the official responses of the representatives of the Russian authorities about the detention of these people in accordance with the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, we have no information about providing them with warm clothes on the eve of the cold season. It can be assumed that these people are not provided with clothes of the season. The lack of warm clothes in detention centers in the cold season means torture. Citizens of Ukraine do not receive parcels with necessary things and products, although this is provided for by the norms of international humanitarian law. The scheme for the transfer of parcels to Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war in the Russian Federation has not been created.
- The Russian Federation hides information about citizens of Ukraine held in places of forced detention. Ukrainians are detained in institutions separated from Russian nationals, or in separate locations of pretrial detention centers, correctional colonies (barracks with strict conditions of detention, separate buildings, etc.). These locations are guarded by Department of Defense military police, not Federal Correctional Services personnel. Russian lawyers and human rights defenders receive false answers that there are no Ukrainian citizens in the institutions of the FSES and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, although they are detained there. Members of the public supervisory commissions for monitoring the observance of human rights in places of forced detention (ONK) are refused to conduct inspections of institutions where Ukrainian citizens are likely to be detained.
- The Russian Federation, in violation of international humanitarian law, allows torture, abuse and other forms of ill-treatment of Ukrainian citizens on its territory. Among such forms, for example, beatings during interrogations, forcing to sing the anthem of the Russian Federation and Russian songs, refusal to provide medical assistance. In some places of forced detention, women are forced to squat hundreds of times, stand for several hours on their feet, and are beaten with sticks until they faint.
Description of places of forced detention of non-combatant citizens of Ukraine on the territory of the Russian Federation and occuped Crimea
This table is not complete for several reasons:
1. The situation is changing rapidly, Ukrainians are being transferred from one regime institution to another.
2. Witnesses and their relatives sometimes name Russian cities where Ukrainian citizens were detained, but there are no institutions in these cities where people deported from Ukraine could be detained. An example is Brahino, Oryol region. Sometimes relatives of abducted people name institutions that do not exist, for example, the Sevastopol pre-trial detention center. There is only a garrison guardhouse in this city. Such cases require a more detailed investigation.
We see the need to monitor places of forced detention and update information about them.
FSI – Federal State Institution (FSI of Russia) / Федеральна казенна установа/Федеральное казённое учреждение
FSES – Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences (FSES of Russia) / Федеральна служба виконання покарань/Федеральная служба исполнения наказанийSIZO – Pre-trial detention center/Слідчий ізолятор/ Следственный изолятор