: :inin Kyiv (EET)

”Terrifying report” by Huff Post shows how pro-Russian separatists tortured 4,000 people


Oleksandr Hryshchenko`s only worry was feeding his ornamental fish at his office, but what happened to him, has changed his life in a terrible way, writes Samantha Meier in her article titled ”Terrifying report shows how pro-Russian separatists tortured 4,000 people.”
”In June 2014, the vet was on his way to work in Luhansk, when the city was in the east of Ukraine had already been seized by separatists. The streets were deserted – there was an eerie silence. The calm before the storm,” reads the article published by the Huffington Post`s German edition.
Before he could enter the office building, he was arrested out on the street by armed men and thrown into a dungeon. At that moment, the 55-year-old man did not realize how bad the next four months would be for him. The man in command over the prison was ”Alexander Alexandrovich,” also known as ”Batman.”
”One man was named `Maniac,` `Madman.` He hit me full force on my chest. I fell to the ground. Another man code name `Janek` shocked me with an electric shocker…” the man says remembering of those terrible days.
The article says the captured man has first told his story to a German-based Deutschlandfunk radio station. The radio station first reported about large mass torture of Ukrainian citizens in the areas occupied by the militant-occupied eastern territories of Ukraine.
”The scale of torture, of which the German radio reports, is frightening,” reads the article.
Oleksandra Matviychuk from the NGO ”Center for Civil Liberty” has told the station: ”We interviewed 165 people who had gone through a similar hell. We can prove that 4,000 people have been held hostage last summer. The realistic figures are probably even higher, because the hostages are still captured today.”
It is not yet clear how many of these people have been tortured. But one thing is clear, according to the article. The militants in the eastern regions of Ukraine operate ”under Vladimir Putin`s grace.” ”They are supported from Russia with weapons, money and technology. If separatists torture people en masse, the Russian president puts up with it, otherwise he would not remain idle,” the author says.
The details of the torture prisons are horrible. After he was brought to the former building of the University Luhansk, Hryshchenko has been tortured for three days, hit with a rubber hammer, his ribs being broken as he was kicked. ”Batman” and his friends suspected that he was a spy because he took photos on his way through the city.
During his four-month detention, he has counted at least hundreds of inmates who were all arrested on flimsy grounds. One drank too much beer on the street, the other was out on the street five minutes after the start of the curfew…
Not only were the prisoners tortured, they were also ”sentenced” to forced labor. ”Many have been arrested under false pretexts to fill sandbags and erect barricades, load and unload trucks or repair military equipment. They needed free labor,” says Hryshchenko.
After months of torture one of the detainees managed to steal a cell phone. For him it was the first contact with the outside world in a long time.
Only on December 29, 2014, was Oleksandr Hryshchenko released. It seems that the events described in the article are common for the occupied territories. Human rights activists have revealed 79 illegal torture prisons in Luhansk and Donetsk breakaway ”republics.”
The horrible incidents in prisons have been documented by 17 Ukrainian human rights organizations for months – the results have now been handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Although torture was also recorded from the Ukrainian side, the perpetrators were prosecuted according to the Ukrainian legislation. Meanwhile, the torturers from among the militants enjoy impunity so far.
Oleksandr Hryshchenko has now fled to Kyiv sharing an apartment with 30 other people. He has no job and currently receives psychological help.

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