Ukrainian prisoners of war ‘held captive and tortured’ inside Russian prison

Former Ukrainian captives have revealed horrifying details of their time as captives in Russian prisons where they say they were subject to torture, including frequent beatings, stripping and electric shocks.

One Senior lieutenant, Artem Seredniak, was in Russian captivity for four months when he was transferred to Pre-Trial Detention Facility Number Two in the back of a truck. Blindfolded and tied to around 50 other people by their arms, he told the BBC he felt like a “human centipede.” On arrival, their heads were shaved and their clothes were stripped. The officer said: “Hello boys. Do you know where you are? You’ll rot here until the end of your lives.”

A woman cries in Ukraine after fleeing atrocities

A woman cries in Ukraine after fleeing atrocities
Getty Images)

Artem was sent for questioning in just his underwear and with every answer he gave the guards shocked him in his back, groin and neck with an electric stun weapon. Once an officer used a wooden chair to hit him, and “he beat me so much that it broke in parts”, he said. The testimonies were gathered by the BBC during a weeks-long investigation and confirm a consistent pattern of extreme violence and ill-treatment at the facility. It is just one of the locations where Ukrainian prisoners of war have been held in Russia.

Iryna Stohnii, a 36-year-old senior combat medic, described the detainees as “constantly malnourished”. She said they were not fed or allowed to go outside. Iryna said she and other female detainees were “dragged by the hair” and others said they were ordered to strip naked in front of male staff who then sometimes made grotesque comments about their bodies. The BBC reports that Iryna cried during her interview and she said: “Only devils live and work” at Taganrog. After her release, she had to have surgery to remove bands of scar tissue between organs that were caused by trauma.

Another detainee, 40-year-old Sergeant Major Artem Dyblenko, overheard the guards talking about playing football with the captives and was intrigued and confused as he had seen no games. He told the BBC: “What I didn’t know was that we would be the ball. There were constant kicks. You did feel like a football.”

In March, a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said Russia had “failed to ensure the humane treatment” of prisoners, with “strong patterns of violations”. The OCHCR’s spokesman Kris Janowski said there was a “long list of bad things that have been done” to the detainees at the facility in Taganrog. The fact that prison was being used to hold captives was, in itself, a breach of international humanitarian law, he said, as they should be kept in specially designated places.

The BBC was been unable to independently verify the claims, but details of the accounts were shared with human rights groups and, when possible, corroborated by other detainees. Russia’s defence ministry did not respond to several requests to comment on the allegations and it has previously denied torturing or mistreating captives.


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