Ukrainian volunteers Vladimir Khropun and Yulia Ivannikova-Katsimon, who had been captured by the Russian military, told Reuters they were beaten and tasered.
Both were detained in March and spent three weeks in captivity. They were released in a prisoner exchange that took place on April 9.
Khropun and Ivannikova-Katsimon said that after they were detained together with 40 other captives, they were held with their hands tied in a factory building in the village of Dymer (Kyiv region). The room was unheated, they had to sleep on a cement floor on a thin mattress or cardboard, with a plastic pot used as a toilet.
Food was given to them once or twice a day. Most days it was army crackers, and sometimes a pot of cooked food was brought. There were only two plastic spoons for 40 people, so some used their hands and others pieces of paper lying on the floor.
In addition, the former captives said that once a Russian soldier fired a bullet into the air to intimidate them. Reuters reports there is indeed a bullet hole in the ceiling of the room.
A week later, Khropun, Ivannikova-Katsimon and 14 other prisoners were taken to Belarus, where they were given documents, which stated they were «people who have expressed their disagreement with the special military operation.» Before filling out the documents, the prisoners were stripped naked, photographed and their scars were recorded, says Ivannikova-Katsemon. Then they were beaten and tasered.
He added that young prisoners were beaten particularly brutally by the guards. They also had their heads and beards shaved, sometimes with only a strand of hair or half a mustache left as a humiliation. Khropun said that during interrogations he was forced to kneel for long periods of time and was beaten.
On April 8, Khropun and Ivannikova-Katsimon were given their clothes back and taken to Crimea, after which they were taken to a Kyiv-controlled territory, the former captives said. They do not know why they were chosen for the exchange, but they noted that the other detainees from Dymer remained in captivity. Ivannikova-Katsimon said that after captivity she had to wear a medical corset and take painkillers.
The Ukrainian Red Cross confirmed that the young men were volunteers for the organization. Both had been reported missing.
On April 11, Lyudmila Denisova, the Ukrainian parliament's human rights commissioner, told The Insider that 86 Ukrainian servicemen held in Russian captivity, including 15 women, were subjected to torture and ill-treatment. The captive women were forced to undress in front of men, squat, shaved their heads, and ordered to say on camera in Russian they were happy in Russia.
«We have evidence of both female and male POWs being tortured. The women were taken through Belarus to Bryansk, where they were held in harsh conditions, sometimes without food and water, and they were humiliated in the literal sense - they were forced to strip naked, squat in front of the men, shave their head, which is described by the Russian prison term «put down». They put moral pressure on them, they wanted them to take part in video recording and say how good they felt in Russia, to switch to the Russian language, but our women did not budge and were exchanged [for Russian prisoners of war]. In the same exchange, our servicemen from Snake Island were returned. They had been also taken out of the country, some of them to Sevastopol. They lived in tents in sub-zero temperatures, many of them had frostbite on their feet. They were kept without food and water, and treated not as prisoners of war, but as prison inmates. They let them out for a walk in the yard, and they had a guard dog watch them in case they tried to escape, and that dog was a threat to them,» Denisova said.
In this connection, Denisova accused the Russian Federation of violating the Geneva Convention.