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“27 hours without food, beaten, threatened to be shot in the knees.“ Russian soldier recounts how he was forced to return to the front

One of the Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine told The Insider how he and other soldiers were kept in a basement, beaten, threatened to be shot in the knees, denied food and water for over 24 hours, and not allowed to go to the bathroom in order to force them to go to the front. Eventually he agreed to go to the front, where he was wounded and then was able to return to Russia. Now he intends to file a complaint about the torture with the Investigative Committee.

According to the serviceman, he and others were brought to Bryanka, where first a psychologist spoke to them and then Colonel Nechiporenko. He suggested that they go to the front or stay in detention. “We all chose detention. We thought he was intimidating us, but then they rounded us up, 11 people, and took us away. We asked where we were going and were told: “to Rostov.” We ended up in a basement,“ the serviceman said.

“We were brought in a Ural truck with a closed tent, accompanied by two guards with guns. We did not see where we were going, and the guards were sitting there. We arrived, disembarked, we were lined up and the guards took all knives and cutting tools away from us. After that they asked, 'Do you have any money?” They won't feed you here, you had to buy food yourself. We said: “Yes, we do,“ and we bought some food for ourselves. After two hours they said: “Go down in the basement“, we went down, and they locked all the doors. We sat on the floor for six hours in the basement. We knocked, but they did not pay attention. Six hours passed, they took us out and said: “Pack your things, you'll be taken to another place“. In the evening, when we were in a state of confusion, they told us: “Get in, they will explain everything to you.” We were taken to an unknown forest at eleven o'clock in the evening. We asked, 'Where are we?' We were told, 'This is the 57th Brigade,“ the serviceman told The Insider.

In the woods, a political officer talked to them again, and they again refused to go to the front, the source said. After that they were again loaded into a Ural truck and taken to an unknown location:

“We arrived, and we were told, “You are in deep shit.” As a result, five people agreed [to go to the front], and six of us were taken somewhere not far from that place to some wooded area, they dropped us off the Ural truck one by one, tied our hands, and taped our eyes shut. One by one we got out of the Ural truck, we were tied up, and then we got back in. They tied us all up and took us to some strange place. We could not see where it was, we were blindfolded. They took us out and put us up against the wall, removed our shoelaces and belts, and took away all our personal belongings. In the end they put three of us in one square meter cells where we sat for twenty-seven hours with our eyes and hands tied - no water, no toilet, nothing. After that they untied our hands and eyes. One hour passed, some guys in masks came in and asked, «Are you going to the front or not?» Four of us agreed, only two remained, we didn't agree and said we weren't going. In the end they took us both out after ten minutes and started beating us and threatening to shoot us in the knees. After that we agreed.”

According to the soldier, they were mostly hit in their legs and lower back, so the bruises were not visible. The men who beat them were wearing balaclavas. «There were three of them, two were beating us, one was loading a gun. Then he cocked his handgun, put it against my knee, after which I said, “Guys, enough. That's it, we agree,» the source said.

Soon after being sent to the front, The Insider’s source was contused and hospitalized, whereafter he was sent to Russia.

On July 26 it was reported that Russian servicemen who refused to fight in Ukraine were being held in detention in Bryanka, Luhansk Region, beaten and forced to return to the front.

Several servicemen who managed to get out of detention told The Insider that Wagner PMC fighters and officers from the Russian Defense Ministry - Colonel Nechiporenko and Lieutenant Colonel Tumanov – were «breaking» the detainees. The Russian military leadership denied any involvement in the events in Bryanka, saying that the contract servicemen were being held by the Luhansk military. At least 130 people were held in the “special center,“ people were taken back to the front and new «objectors» were brought in. The Insider published information on 17 of them.

The Insider managed to obtain an archive of complaints addressed to the Russian military prosecutor, which reflects the real situation in the course of the war in Ukraine. The Insider and Bellingcat managed to independently confirm the authenticity of the letters from the archive. As can be seen from the appeals, conscripts are being deceived or coerced into coming to the war zone, soldiers are not being provided with normal food and medical care, contract soldiers violate every military regulation on purpose to be dismissed from service, and parents cannot get any information about their children who were taken prisoner or killed in action. From the complaints of Russian citizens one can learn about the looting and atrocities perpetrated by Russian soldiers.

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