Released Ukrainian soldiers accuse Russians of atrocities in prison


After one of the fiercest engagements in the war, three Ukrainian troops who claim they were injured and captured by Russia before being later freed, accused their captors of torturing and using psychological pressure. 

Following Russia’s invasion on February 24, the soldiers, who were a part of a group that fought for weeks from a sizable steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, claimed during a news conference in Kyiv that their captors sought to force them to confess to atrocities against civilians.

The claims of the trio, who said they were taken prisoner by Russian soldiers, could not be independently corroborated by Reuters. An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by the Russian defence ministry. Russia has already been charged with war crimes by Ukraine, but Moscow has refuted the claims. 

Vladyslav Zhaivoronok, who lost a leg, said, “I was interrogated even before I started receiving antibiotics after my limb was amputated.” 

“The guys who were there were tortured. Some had needles inserted into their wounds, some were tortured with water, some received inadequate treatment ” he explained.

The three individuals were traded for Russian POWs. Although the exact date of the exchange was not immediately known, Ukraine declared in June that Russia had released 144 prisoners. 

Zhaivoronok served in the national guard’s Azov Regiment. Azov included some individuals with far-right and ultranationalist roots.

Hundreds of Azov forces gave up in May after weeks of combat from the steelworks’ tunnels and bunkers. The Russian Supreme Court declared the regiment to be a terrorist organisation on August 2, despite the fact that the Azov inmates have not yet received formal charges. 

In order to demilitarise its smaller neighbour and safeguard Russian-speaking minorities, Russia invaded Ukraine in what it refers to as a “special military operation.” Moscow is accused of pursuing an imperial-style war of conquest by Ukraine and its Western sponsors.

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