The LPR’s exposure of the prison has shed light on the horrific treatment of prisoners captured by separatist fighters. The centre was managed by a rapid
reaction force consisting of local pro-Russian rebels
and Russian militants led by Alexander Bednov, known as “Batman”. Located in the basement of a rebel-held building, it housed 20 prisoners that were regularly subjected to torture.

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“If a
prisoner resisted he was beaten by a plastic pipe,” Aleksey Dakhnenko, the
deputy head of the illegal prison and member of the “Batman” military unit, says
in a video interview, posted on YouTube. The head of the prison, known by the nickname ‘Maniac’, used a hammer to torture prisoners, he adds.

“Maniac was well-known for his cruelty. As legend has it he had a surgery toolkit, the set of
field surgeon, which he always laid out in front of detainees to
scare them. In such a way he tried to extract testimony from prisoners,” Dakhnenko says.

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Video interview with Aleksey Dakhnenko, deputy head of the illegal prison in Luhansk, in which he confesses his prisoners were tortured.

The “Batman” group accused
Igor Plotnitsky, leader of the self-proclaimed LPR, of killing their leader on their page on social network Vkontakte. Bednov was killed along with his six bodyguards on Jan. 1 near Luhansk, before other members of his unit were captured by rival LPR forces.

A post on the Batman Vkontakte group on Jan. 1 reads:  “The mean hand of Plotnitsky killed one of
the most authoritative commanders who defended Lugansk and
its inhabitants.” LPR leader Plotnitsky could not be  reached for comment.

Ukrainian blogger Denis Kazanskiy, who comes from Donetsk
and has written extensively on local Donbas
politics, believes the killing is a sign of infighting between Plotnitsky and
other militant groups. The Plotnitsky group “with the help of Russian troops have started actively exterminating competing gangs” in an attempt to consolidate
power in the region, Kazansky wrote in his blog on Jan. 2.

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According to an August report by New York-based watchdog Human Right Watch, Russian-backed insurgent forces in eastern Ukraine often arbitrarily detain civilians and subject them to torture, degrading treatment, and forced labor. They have also detained civilians for use as hostages, the report says.

“Pro-Russian insurgents are regularly committing horrendous crimes,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, at the time. “There are solid grounds to be seriously concerned about the safety and well-being of anyone held by insurgent forces in eastern Ukraine.”

Kyiv Post staff writer Nataliya Trach can be
reached at [email protected]

Kyiv Post staff writer Vlad Lavrov can be reached at [email protected]

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