Conflicts & War

Ukrainian POWs physically, psychologically abused under Russian captivity

Lviv, Ukraine, Aug 22 (EFE).- Ukrainian prisoners of war said Monday that they were physically and psychologically abused during their time in captivity iN Russian-separatists controlled Donetsk.

“They completely isolated us from the world and kept telling us that no one in Ukraine cared about us,” Vladyslav Zhavoroniuk, who spent over a month in a hospital in Donetsk, told reporters during an online press conference Monday.

Zhavoroniuk is one of the Azovstal steel plant defenders who surrendered and became POWs after weeks of Russian occupation, culminating in the fall of Mariupol.

“They kept us alive but without treating our wounds properly,” Zhavoroniuk said, adding that the soldiers were regularly psychologically and physically abused during captivity.

Denys Chepurko was severely injured at the Azovstal plant just days before Ukrainian troops were forced to lay down their arms. He had his leg amputated and was kept in a prisoner camp in Olenivka, in Donetsk.

He said his inmates were regularly taken away for two or three days at a time.

“Some came back with their ribs and legs broken. I am not sure what happened to them,” Chepurko told the press conference.

The Ukrainian soldiers recalled how they would undergo harsh interrogations in which they would be hit and forced into signing a document that said it was the Azov fighters that destroyed Mariupol and killed civilians.

“They never asked, did you shoot at civilians in Mariupol? It was always, why did you shoot?” Zhavoroniuk said.

The POWs would receive less than a liter of water every two days and sleep on the floor in overcrowded cells as well as being submitted to physical pain such as having needles inserted in their wounds, the soldiers said.

Zhavoroniuk and Chepurko added that they did not expect justice to be reached for the Azov fighters who are to face trial in Russian separatists-controlled Donetsk.

“They (Russians) never seek the truth. They choose their own version of the truth and then try to twist the reality to suit them,” Zhavoroniuk told reporters.

But despite the difficult circumstances, the soldiers said they never lost the will to fight.

“We knew we were going to fight for our people and anything could happen,” said Chepurko.



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