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Morsi supporters clash with security forces in Cairo
Morsi supporters clash with security forces in Cairo
Florence Aubenas

CAIRO — The show had just started. It was one of those debates that the new private Egyptian channels love to produce: Viewers can call in to denounce a terrorist, live on air.

In front of his television, Yasser was listening to the host describe an “individual who seriously affects the image of the country.” The host repeated his name, again and again, so the audience wouldn’t forget. At that moment, on his couch, Yasser suddenly realized that this “terrorist” for whom the hunt was now on was him: a 40-year-old father of two who works at a conference center used by the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political organization in Egypt.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Inside Russia’s Revival Of Stalinist “Filtration Camps”

Though different than concentration camps constructed by Nazis, the “filtration” facilities nevertheless recalls a brutal history, and have been reopened under Putin, and ramped up since the invasion of Ukraine.

Civilians leaving Mariupol on foot

Anna Akage

"It was like a true concentration camp."

This is how Oleksandr, a 49-year-old man from Mariupol, described where he and his wife Olena were taken in by Russian security officers. Speaking to a reporter for the BBC, the couple was fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated for hours, and their phones searched for material that could somehow identify them as “Nazis.”

But there is another name given to that these locations, and the process, that have been set up to handle Ukrainians taken into custody in areas occupied by pro-Russian separatists: They’re called: “filtration camps.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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