Where people disappear

If you ask Russians what the purpose of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine is, you will most likely hear that they have come to “defend Donbass”. And if you ask them from whom exactly they are “defending Donbass” and whether they know what has actually been happening all these eight years in Donbass, you are unlikely to hear anything understandable enough. The first thing the Russian Federation did after occupying parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions was to filter the Ukrainian population living on these territories.

One of such filtration places was the basements of the former Ukrainian plant of insulating materials, nicknamed as “Izolyatsia”. Those who managed to survive in these basements and escape from hell tell harrowing stories about the brutal tortures that took place there all those eight years before today’s already full-scale Russian invasion into Ukraine and the killing of Ukrainians on the verge of genocide. Ukrainian human rights activists say that there are more than 160 such basements used as prisons and torture chambers. More than three thousand people have been illegally held captive and subjected to torture and inhumane treatment there since the start of the conflict.

Prison cell in the basements of “Izolyatsia”. Photo: Telegram channel “Donetskiy Tractorist”, 2021.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the plant fell into disrepair and the docks below remained empty until 2010. In 2010, a cultural platform “Izolyatsia” was opened there, where installations of British and French artists were presented. On 9 June 2014, armed men entered the plant, the “Russian World” came and destroyed the cultural platform, turning it into a place of tortures, blood, death and inhuman pain. After the seizure, the platform for open discussion became a closed secret facility, a Russian military base. An entire website is devoted to the transformation of these basements.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning lawyer and human rights activist, continues to draw the attention of the international community to this place of torture with all her efforts and writes on her Twitter account:

It is a secret prison called “Izolyatsia”. It is located on the territory of a military base in occupied Donetsk. Men and women have been tortured, raped and murdered there for years. The UN, the Red Cross and other organisations have been unable to force Russia to stop it. “Izolyatsia” is still keeping doing this to people.

She also retweets Stanislav Aseyev, a journalist and blogger who has been held captive there for 28 terrible months. He pays attention to the website and writes in his Twitter account:

For my Western colleagues I would like to post this link again. The entire history of “Izolyatsia” is collected on this website (English version). Photos of Izolyatsia’s basements. I spent a month in this basement. Nothing has changed.

Most people prefer not to recall their experience in a place where they were not just physically destroyed, but mentally exhausted. To obtain confessions, people are beaten, tortured with electric shocks and then bullied on a daily basis – they are forced to work hard, raped in front of others. Locals talk about this place: “where people disappear”…

“Izolyatsia” website contains all the information about the forms and types of tortures used there and photos available by now.

Help us spread this information, so that as many people as possible know about it!