Eastern Human Rights Group published an in-depth report on slave labor in prison camps in the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), reports DFRLab.
Many of these prisoners, which number over 5,000, suffer from inhumane treatment such as torture, starvation, and solitary confinement, and carry out slave labor.
Pavlo Lisyansky, the Director of the Eastern Human Rights Group,tells about the process of the research:
How did you find information about the prison colonies and prisoners?
Through relatives who appealed to us and open sources of information, we began to analyze the events taking place [in the prison colonies of the LNR], and then we got into contact with the normal workers of the penitentiary system who disclosed some new facts to us regarding forced labor. And as a third source of information, we communicated with the prisoners. With the help of relatives, we verified the identity of every prisoner with whom we spoke. Relatives did not tell us about the forced labor. They talked more about the beatings and the prisoners’ inability to be transferred to territory controlled by Ukraine. Now, after two years, they have become accustomed to the fact that their relatives in prison are working for free. And even consider it normal.
In fact, the information was gathered up bit-by-bit, and initially we shared it primarily with the UN, OSCE, and Red Cross, but they don’t talk about this problem and have not raised it, and so we decided to act independently.
The Eastern Human Rights Group describes nine prisons that are still operational, with prisoner populations that range from 130 to 1470. Some of the prisons, such as one in Chervonopartizansk near Sverdlovsk, were destroyed during the war.
As Pavlo Lisyansky described in his interview, much of the research done for this investigation was carried out with human contacts — relatives of the prisoners, workers in the prison system, and the prisoners themselves. However, it is still possible to look into the prison colonies with just an internet connection.