Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) said on Tuesday the government is aware of "so-called camps" on Russia's border with Estonia set up to question refugees but "everything is calm". The PPA said there is no indication filtration camps are being set up.
Jaani commented on rumors in the Ukrainian media that Russia has set up a filtration camp to question Ukrainian refugees on the Russian/Estonian border when they try and enter Europe.
Writing on Twitter, and referencing an article published by news portal Delfi, he said: "We are aware that such so-called camps have been established. This has been public information. We acknowledge the risks, however, everything is calm at the moment. To our knowledge, the people present there are moving in/out freely."
Oleme kursis, et selliseid nn laagreid on rajatud. See olnud avalik info. Teadvustame riske, aga hetkel kõik rahulik. Inimesed, kes seal viibivad, liiguvad teadaolevalt vabalt sisse/välja. https://t.co/owS528juJ2— Kristian Jaani (@KristianJaani) May 31, 2022
No indication filtration camps being established
The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) told ERR News on Wednesday there are camps at the border, but there is no indication these are filtration camps.
"According to our information, there are three refugee camps operating in Leningrad oblast," said PPA Deputy Director General for Border Management Egert Belitšev.
"However, we have no indication about filtration camps being established near the Estonian border.
"We continue to monitor the situation and provide help and assistance to the Ukrainian refugees who are arriving in Estonia from Russia."
Russia sets up "filtration camps" to sort deportees
Russia has set up so-called "filtration camps" for deported Ukrainians from southeastern Ukraine when they are taken to Russian territory. Those who pass through them are submitted to extensive questioning and families have been separated.
Many of these refugees then enter Estonia across the Russian border.
Volunteers working with refugees in Estonia have said they also face tough questioning by Russian border guards and data from their mobile phones is copied. ERR News has spoken to Ukrainians who said they were questioned for several hours.
"We know people were traveling for many days, passing two borders, experiencing 'filtrations' procedures, sometimes even twice," said Aleksandra Averjanova, spokesperson for NGO Friends of Mariupol (Друзья Мариуполя в Эстонии / Mariupoli Sõbrad) which helps Ukrainians safely transit Estonia.
The Kyiv Independent website reported on Monday that advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andriushchenko said Russia is using "filtration camps" near its border with Estonia to prevent Ukrainians who had been forcibly deported to Russia from escaping to Estonia.
"According to the official, Mariupol residents who were in such a camp said that the conditions there were much harsher compared to "filtration camps" in the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine," the website wrote.
Currently, around 400 Ukrainian refugees are crossing the Russian-Estonian border every day. Many of them were deported to Russia from Ukraine.
Editor's note: This article was updated on June 1 to add comments from the Police and Border Guard Board.
Editor: Helen Wright