Chechen web site says civilians tortured in Russian filtration camps
The Chechen rebel web site Chechenpress has published interviews with
Chechen civilians who say their were tortured in Russian filtration
camps. The web site said that the Russians have set up these camps
not only in Chechnya, but throughout the Northern Caucasus.
Civilians are taken away on suspicion of being members of illegal
armed formations and then tortured in prison and during
interrogations, Chechenpress said. It added that the Russians use
various methods of torture, the most widely used of which is the so-
called "electric shock", where they fix an electric wire to any part
of the body and link it to a generator.
The following is a text of report by Chechenpress news agency web
site headlined "Filtration centres". Subheadings have been inserted
When and how were filtration centres founded?
What are they? How do people end up here?
What happens in them? Beatings, torture and their classification.
What are the people like when they leave there?
What happens to them afterwards? The price of amnesty.
Filtration camps set up throughout Chechnya
A decree of the President of the Russian Federation No 2166 of 9
December 1994 "On measures to thwart the activity of illegal armed
formations on the territory of the Chechen Republic and in the zone
of the Ossetian-Ingushetian armed conflict" became the basis for the
following decree on Stavropol Territory, which read: "In accordance
with the request of the operational headquarters of the Russian
Interior Ministry in the Chechen Republic to establish the identity
and to ascertain the involvement of those detained in the combat zone
in crimes and the extent of their participation in combat activities
against the Defence and Interior Ministries of the Russian
Federation, on the basis of the instructions of the Russian Interior
Ministry No 247 of 12 December 1994, I issue the following
"To set up temporary filtration centres at SIZO (Detention Facility)-
1 and Detention Facility-2 of the Correction and Social
Rehabilitation Service (SIDISR) of the Administration of the Interior
Ministry, with the separate confinement of persons brought in from
"I entrust the responsibility for the execution of this instruction
to the head of SIZO-1 Col I. P. Sobolev, and the head of SIZO-2 Col
of the armed forces of the Russian Federation B. A. Petrov.":
(Head of the Administration of the Interior Ministry for Stavropol
Territory, Police Gen V. P. Medveditskiy).
This enabled the so-called filtration centres to be set up quickly.
One of these was the "PAP-1" filtration centre, which became
notorious in Chechnya in those years. There were others, too: the
MDOHQ (The Main Directorate of Operational Headquarters); the
notorious pits in the village of Assinovskaya and in Khankala; and
others unknown throughout Chechnya. Filtration centres have been set
up not only in Chechnya, but throughout the Northern Caucasus. The
most well-known is the "Stolypin wagons" camp in the town of Mozdok.
There were more than a dozen of this type.
When the latest war started at the beginning of 1999 there were even
more of these camps in Chechnya. The whole world is now familiar with
such camps as "Chernokozovo" in Naur, which won "fame" thanks to A.
Babitskiy, and "Internat" in Urus-Martan. But how many other camps
are there which we do not know about? There is one in Khankala which
is well known to people who are searching for their relatives and
loved ones who have vanished without trace. Most of the population is
unaware that these places of confinement even exist.
Former prisoners say they were tortured
"He came back himself, black and blue and covered in bruises. When we
asked where he had been he said he had been kept in the pits of
Khankala. Now he complains of pain in the kidneys. He frequently has
fits, and he has other afflictions, too," - says Said, the uncle of a
young lad whose mother had been vainly looking for him for two
Apart from prisons and pits, so-called "Stolypin" wagons are being
built as filtration camps. These were used when Lord Judd came to
inspect the camp at Chernokozovo. The wretched, tortured people from
Chernokozovo were switched to these wagons, and before the lord's
departure they were sent off on the road Naur-Chervlennaya-Kadi-Yurt.
During that and the current war these "places of confinement" have
existed not only throughout Chechnya, but all over the Northern
Caucasus. These filtration centres, which with great foresight are no
longer officially so called, comprise hastily erected premises,
usually in the basement if they are actually in buildings, but in
most cases they are simply pits which have been dug out in places
where there are checkpoints and units of the occupation forces.
One man who had been in one of these camps said this: "We were
detained at a checkpoint in the village of Kalinovskaya. After they
checked our papers they took us past the checkpoint to a large
building which had no bottom, and under it there was a pit with water
up to your knees. They pushed us into this building and locked the
door and we were left in this pit for several hours."
A man, who for personal security reasons introduced himself simply by
his profession (a shepherd) says: "On the fourth day they brought us
back to Khankala. Three days later we were taken to the Interior
Ministry headquarters at Minutka [square in Groznyy], opposite the
hospital, where we were led down to the basement of the commandant's
building. Apart from those sent with me there were other people down
" For example, in Khankala, buildings and pits were used to detain
those who were captured during the "cleansing" operations. As in the
previous war, various detention facilities were used all over the
Northern Caucasus for these purposes.
Chechnya's ethnic minorities are being repressed as well
All Chechen citizens, irrespective of their ethnic affiliation, sex
or age, have been and are being detained. They could be Russians,
Armenians, Tatars and others who were unable to leave the republic
before the war started. In the first war people of non-Chechen
nationality were incriminated because they could easily be "Dudayev's
mercenaries", and now their "crime" is just that they are living in
Chechnya. Accordingly, they sometimes suffered even more than the
One Igor says: "They came up to us and asked for our documents. I
said I didn't have any. There were four chaps from our village with
them. They said they would take us to the DOSAAF [Voluntary Society
for Co-operation with the Army, Navy and Air Force]. Here they would
establish if we really lived in the village and would let us go. For
three to four hours we were forced to kneel, then they put handcuffs
on us and took us to Chernokozovo. There they beat us up and hurled
us into cells. I ended up in a cell with Babitskiy. This was a
confinement cell, 1.7m long by 1.2m wide. I was beaten up again. Why,
I still don't know. I had a plan of the sewer, and in it I noticed
where the traps were. After eight days they threw a Jew into our
cell. He had been a prisoner of Barayev for a year. Somehow he had
got away and reached the Russian post. They could do nothing to help
him so he was thrown into our cell. He was called Roma, he was 71
years old. He was with us for two days, then he was taken out, but
what happened to him, I've no idea."
A shepherd: "They let my son go when I gave one of the soldiers my
watch and a hundred roubles. There was a lad of about fifteen there."
Salman: "Some time later we realized that we were in Khankala. They
put two women with us in a car. We found out from one of them where
we were. Then some more people were brought in from PAP-1, they had
been detained along the road, one was an old gentleman of about 70.
There were 32 of us in one vehicle which was supposed to take 16
Zura: "There were women with me in a cell in Chernokozovo. Aminat
Bakhayeva, a young girl, had been there for two months. They took her
off the bus, with the wounded, and she was just a passenger. Svetlana
Kozlova, she was taken as she was leaving Groznyy. Polina Nikolayevna
Filippova, she was taken in Shatoy on suspicion of being a sniper.
She was from Latvia, she was about 30.
"There was a 19-year old girl, Eliza, with us, a Chechen, from Urus-
Martan. She was brought in on 27 January. She was in a state of
shock, she slept for 72 hours and had probably been drugged in
Khankala. With her was Lola Daurbekova who said that Eliza had been
raped by several men. After four days she began to have epileptic
fits but the doctors ignored her. There was a pregnant woman, Aminat,
she was arrested on the way to Groznyy."
Ethnic Chechens are tortured most of all
But most of the people who end up there come from Chechnya, without
trial or investigation, unless you include beatings and torture. In
many cases they come without any documents or even an endorsement of
their arrest. These endorsements are completed many weeks or even
months after their detention, if it is considered necessary. There
were many examples of this.
Here is one of them: "They took me straight from my house in Staryye
Atagi where I was a refugee from Groznyy. I was taken on 28 January
2000, and the warrant for my arrest was signed by the prosecutor on
Salman: "I was taken on 3 February. I received the arrest endorsement
only on 3 April. They brought the warrant which was backdated. They
forced me to sign it. A week later they brought another one where my
confinement period had been extended to 3 June." He had been taken on
3 February, during the cleansing operations.
Since the start of the current war each village has been subjected
to "cleansing operations" no less than three times. During these
brutal operations they take the young people out of the village,
people who had absolutely no involvement in the fighting. They are
subjected to beatings and torture in the "filtration centres" or
within the area where the "cleansing operation" is being carried out.
Through these beatings and torture they are forced to sign various
papers which they are not even allowed to read. So many of them write
under Article 208, para 2: "Participation in illegal armed
formations". Then, if they are lucky, several months later these
fighters are again "amnestied".
Here is Geliskhan (his name has been changed): "Something is
happening which I just cannot comprehend. We, who have nothing to do
with anything, are being taken away and tortured into signing
documents we don't understand saying we are fighters. They put bags
over our heads and suffocate us. They say to us: 'Remember this, if
anyone complains, they will go and you will stay here. We will shoot
you.' If they don't shoot you, then they can beat you until you are
"Eventually, we are placed under amnesty, and it turns out that we
are fighters, we have been in battle and we have not been shot, we
have been "pardoned", they have shown mercy towards us. See what kind
of people we are, you have been killing our boys, but we have
pardoned you. Together with me there were nineteen such 'fighters'.
They took our photographs, and this show was attended by generals
from Moscow, and Koshman and his men. Where each of them deemed it
his duty to say these parting words to us: "As you have committed no
serious crimes, and you have not taken part in any terrorist
operations, you have been placed under amnesty. Leave your weapons
behind for good and take up peaceful, creative work."
There are interrogation cells in all the filtration centres where the
subject is brainwashed: ..."I was taken on 7 February, straight from
home during the cleansing operations, which started after the village
was shelled from the air and on the ground. Federal troops would come
up to our yard and introduce themselves: 'A punitive detachment has
arrived'. We were on the move a long time. Then we were unloaded at
Khankala and handed over to another punitive detachment: 'The
fighters are here!' Then they dealt with the 'fighters'. They beat us
up for about an hour and threw us into a vehicle where all 16 of us
were kept for four days and nights, without even any fresh air.
"We were each taken out separately for interrogation. The
interrogation turned into out-and-out beating and abuse. On the
fourth day they took one of us out for interrogation and when he came
back some hours later he was in a terrible state. But I had no time
to look at him as now it was my turn. I was taken out, a sack was
placed over my head and they tied me hand and foot to a post and
started burning me with a blow-torch. From the torrent of abuse I was
able to pick out some ridiculous questions, such as: Have I been
fighting? Why did I not leave with the fighters? And so on, but when
I said that I was not a fighter and I have not been fighting, and I
had nothing to confess, they weren't satisfied. And the torture went
on until I lost consciousness."
What goes on in the filtration centres cannot be comprehended. They
break you, physically and mentally. Or rather, they try to reach the
point where you haven't got the strength to think about being free.
Those who have been through this hell say that the mental torture is
worse than the physical.
"The torture of ridicule was no less pain than the physical beatings.
We had to endure abuse and derision just as often as the boot or the
fist. Worst of all, in enduring blows about the body, you had to
listen to them abusing you and your faith and to recognize the
disgrace of your predicament. They would say: 'Where's your Allah,
why doesn't he help you?' They abused the religion, the faith of all
Muslims. You are detained, beaten up, and then they say: 'Turn to
Allah', or 'They are drunk all the time.'" Magomed says. (All names
have been changed for the safety of the people who were interviewed).
Various types of torture
The torture which people had to suffer and still are suffering can be
classified as "the helicopter", "the bag", "electric shock", and many
The "helicopter" is a form of torture where people are loaded into a
helicopter, their eyes are covered with bandage and the engine is
switched on. You get the impression that the helicopter is gaining
height, and then they start throwing people off, saying that the
helicopter is flying at 200 - 500 metres.
In the "bag" torture, you are taken in for interrogation which begins
with beatings and questions which people cannot answer. Then they tie
a cellophane bag over your head and start to suffocate you. When it
becomes unbearable they take it off. But if they still don't like
your replies, the torture is repeated. Geliskhan says: "They would
put bags on my head and choke me."
The most widely used of all the tortures in this war is the so-
called "electric shock". In this they fix an electric wire to any
part of the body and link it to a generator. It is charged and the
person loses consciousness.
Says Zaurbek: "I was handcuffed the whole time. This was a special
cell where people were tortured by electric shock. They had a special
apparatus, a brown box with wires and rods at the end. They attached
them to my ear lobes and then switched on the current. I wasn't tied
to the chair, and the shock of the current threw me from one side of
the cell to the other. The wires were disconnected and then they
started all over again."
Here is Boris: "They didn't just torture Bislan, they dragged him
along the road to the wood tied to an armoured personnel carrier
[BTR]. They poured a tin of nitric paint into his mouth and tortured
him with an electric current. Then they took him to the filling
station and threw him out. Traces of the electric current could
clearly be seen on his head and behind his ears.
"There was one chap, called Andarbek. They tortured him with current
and broke all his toes. The first stages of gangrene have now set in
and he just doesn't know what to do."
Here is Isa: "They tied me to a chair, started with the shock
treatment, and then used the needle. They stripped me to the waste
and stuck needles into each vertebra. They would sit down, laugh,
drink spirits, vodka and offer some to me. I refused. They again
tried the current. They would fix something like rods to my ear lobes
and then send as much current as I could stand, until my muscles
started to quiver. Then they started to choke me. Not everyone can
stand this. They then placed a cellophane bag on my head until you
are at bursting point. Then they take it off and pour water over
The attitude of the doctors to the prisoners is particularly
interesting. Whether he is a fighter or a peaceful citizen, to the
doctor he is first and foremost a patient. But when a doctor forgets
that before him is not an enemy, but a patient, then he betrays the
Hippocratic Oath. How can such people then be called doctors? To
trust your health or that of someone close to you to such doctors
would be simply unthinkable.
Here is Alik: "They ordered me to squat with my hands behind my head.
Then they roughed me up. There was one doctor who knew exactly where
and how to beat you. He was just a sadist. They called him Vitya.
They had to keep restraining him. On the second day they brought a
doctor to us. I recognized him straight away, he was the one who had
beaten us up during the night. He asked with a grin - do you have any
complaints? I said my ribs were broken, but when he asked where this
happened I said I had fallen down some stairs. It was safer to say
Here is Aslan: "We had nothing to eat or drink for three days and I
was never taken outside. Our wounds were not treated although many
had gangrene. It was only on the fourth day that the bosses arrived
(about six men and some journalists), and a military surgeon was with
them. He, along with a Chechen doctor, bathed and re-bandaged our
wounds. They pulled a shard of shrapnel from me."
This is Apti: "I was in such a state that the other prisoners had to
call the doctor. The doctor couldn't find any pulse and was amazed
that I was still alive. He put me on a drip right there in the pit.
There I was, lying in a pool of water under a drip. My mates held the
vessel containing the medicine. They told me all this when I came
This is Ziyaudi: "The doctor at the hospital where I was sent to
after the filtration centre noticed cuts on my body and broken ribs
and straight away ordered me to be sent for treatment. But, he said,
you could only get clearance through the commandant's office." This
is Idris: "He only cried out when he had an epileptic fit. The doctor
came, looked at him, and said: "Sort him out."
(To be continued)
[Signed] Society of Prisoners of Filtration (Concentration) Camps of
the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria