The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has discovered a room in a facility close to a shrine, with evidence that horrific acts of torture were carried out there on Ukrainians.
Cables, belts, wires, ropes, and various tools and sharp instruments were just some of the items found inside the chamber in Donetsk Region, Eastern Ukraine.
An official investigation is now under way, with the SBU saying in a statement on Tuesday, Oct. 11 that “Russian soldiers detained local residents who supported Ukrainian integrity [as a country] and hold them there by force.”
Investigators are currently working to establish the number of victims and their identities, as well as identifying those Russian invaders who were involved in the acts of torture.
The discovery echoes similar makeshift torture chambers found to have been used by Russian troops to torture soldiers and civilians in other parts of Ukraine.
In June, upon the retreat of Russian occupying forces from Trostyanets, Sumy Region, one such room was discovered in a toilet complex beneath the city’s train station.
When Russian forces invaded Trostyanets, seeing the area as a strategic point between Sumy and Kharkiv, shops and schools were destroyed, civilians were raped, many were murdered, and men were dragged from their homes and brought to the train station for interrogation.
“When the Ukrainian army retook Trostyanets and we could come back inside, we found this room filled with dirty sleeping bags, rubbish and even human excrement” a staff worker from the train station told the Kyiv Post back in June.
“The Russian officers slept upstairs where it was more comfortable. But down here, the soldiers lived like animals.”
Dima, a part-time mechanic and one of few to resurface from the torture chamber alive, described lying in pain and listening to a fellow prisoner screaming beside him. His ribs broke as Russian troops bound him into the “lastochka” or “swallow position” – a torture method devised to inflict ultimate pain and discomfort.
Some Ukrainian civilians who were held captive in the shower blocks and ticket booth were beaten to death, while others were tortured, stabbed, electrocuted, and threatened with rape and mutilation if they didn’t denounce Ukraine or provide information about the whereabouts of Ukrainian units. None of them could provide such information.
Dima recalled one man named Kolya, who was savagely beaten for refusing to retract his public denunciations of Moscow’s illegal invasion. Hearing the sound of the torturer’s boots leaving the makeshift cell, Dima heard a gurgle from the blood filling Kolya’s throat and lungs.
“I shouted at the guards: ‘He’s dying, he’s dying!’,” Dima said, claiming that the response from the Russian captors was: “If he dies, he dies. All Ukrainians must die.”
“I kept calling to Kolya, but he didn’t reply,” he added. “I tried with my bound feet to push a bottle of water towards him, but tragically it was too late and Koyla was already gone.
“They kept his body next to me until the morning when they removed it and brought in two more people.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with The Washington Post last week, a Ukrainian woman from the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Izyum, Kharkiv Region, provided a shocking account of being detained, raped, and tortured by Russian soldiers.
Alla, who is 52, said that when enemy forces captured Izyum in March, Russian officials began visiting her home, threatening both her and her husband to give them details about their son, who was absent from the city.
With each visit, Alla claims, the Russians became more aggressive, checking her mobile phone, confiscating photographs, and insisting that her son start collaborating with Russia.
“They were threatening us all the time, telling me that if my son collaborated with them, they wouldn’t touch us and everything would be good,” Alla said. “We lived in constant fear,” she underlined.
Eventually, the Russian-appointed mayor of Izyum, accompanied by men who identified themselves as Federal Security Service (FSB) agents, arrived at her home and demanded that Alla return to her job at a gas company in Kharkiv to help restore the supply.
Refusing their request, Alla insisted she did not possess the expertise they required. The following day, July 1, two cars marked with the Russian “Z” symbol arrived at her home. Russian troops arrested Alla and her husband, forced bags over their heads, tied their hands with duct tape, and ordered them into the trunks of both cars.
When the cars eventually arrived at their destination – a nearby medical facility – Alla says she was dragged out and told by one of her captors: “We’ll beat the Ukrainian out of you here, you won’t come out of here alive.” She was then thrown into a small shed with a concrete floor, while her husband was locked away in a nearby garage.
They remained captives for 10 horrific days.
An hour after being brought to the facility, six men returned to fetch Alla, taking her to another room and demanding that she undress.
“They forcefully undressed me, laid me on the table and started touching me everywhere,” Alla said.” Then they threw me on my knees, screaming, ‘Oh you are Ukrainian. Do you know what we do with Ukrainian women and mothers of Ukraine’s Security Service officers? We tie them up naked on the main square and send pictures of them to their sons so they can see what we can do to their parents’.”
“I started crying and screaming,” Alla continued. “But he took my clothes off and asked his soldiers who would be the first to rape me. After the first brutal rape, Alla said she could hear her husband crying out whilst being beaten, and that the commander gloated to him that he had just raped his wife. “I was determined to commit suicide,” she said.
“There were some spikes inside the barn, and I had a bra so I thought of hanging myself. It did not work out. I started crying, I was crying all the time. They heard me crying and came back and started harassing me again.”
During her 10-day detainment, Alla was repeatedly raped, beaten, and on one occasion tortured by having electric shocks delivered to her feet. “I cannot express what kind of pain it was,” she said, adding that she was surprised to have been eventually released, along with her husband.
The couple have since returned to the site of their traumatic captivity. On a wall in the shed, Alla showed reporters from The Washington Post a section where she had scratched her name and listed some of the brutal crimes Russian troops had committed against her.
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