‘Absolute evil’: Inside Russian prison camp where dozens of Ukrainians burned to death Ukraine

Screams of torture by soldiers, overflowing cells, inhumane conditions, intimidation and murder reign. Days were marked with home-made calendars on inedible porridge, no communication with the outside world, and tea boxes.

This, according to a prisoner present, is how it is inside the infamous detention center Olenivka outside Donetsk, where dozens of Ukrainian soldiers were burned in a horrific episode while in Russian captivity late last month.

Anna Vorosheva – a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur – gave a harrowing account Observer Inside the prison of his time. He spent 100 days in Olenivka after being detained in mid-March at a checkpoint run by the pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in eastern Ukraine.

She was trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to her home town of Mariupol, which was besieged by Russian forces. Separatists arrested him and took him to jail in a police van, where he was kept until early July on charges of “terrorism”.

Now recovering in France, Vorosheva said she has no doubt that Russia “reprehensible and intentionally” killed Ukrainian prisoners of war. “We’re talking about absolute evil,” she said.

The fighter planes were blown up in a mysterious and devastating explosion on 29 July. Moscow claims Ukraine killed him with a US-made precision-guided Hymer rocket. However, satellite images and independent analysis show that they were destroyed by a powerful bomb blast from inside the building.

Russia says 53 prisoners were killed and 75 were wounded. Ukraine has been unable to confirm these figures and has called for an investigation. The victims were members of the Azov battalion. Until his surrender in May, he defended Mariupol’s Azovstal Steel Plant, which was underground.

See also  ICC T20 Rankings: Suryakumar Yadav Becomes World No 2, Closer To Babar Azam: Check Out

The day before the explosion, he was transferred to an isolated area in the industrial area of ​​the camp, some distance from the two-story concrete block where Vorosheva shared a cell with other female prisoners. Videos aired on Russian state TV showed charred bodies and folded metal bunk beds.

“Russia didn’t want them to survive. I’m sure some of the people ‘killed’ in the explosion were already corpses. It was just a convenient way of accounting for the fact that they were put to death.” , “He said.

Male prisoners were routinely removed from their cells, beaten, then locked up. “We heard their cries,” she said. “He played loud music to cover the screams. There was torture all the time. Investigators would make fun of it and ask the prisoners, ‘What happened to your face?’ The soldier would reply, ‘I fell’, and he laughed.

“It was a show of power. The prisoners understood that anything could happen to them, that they could easily be killed. A small number of Azov people were captured before the mass surrender in May.”

Vorosheva said that there was constant traffic around Olenivka, known as Reform Colony No. 120. A former Soviet agricultural school, it was converted into a prison in the 1980s, and later abandoned. The DNR began using it earlier this year to house enemy civilians.

Vorosheva reported that the captives arrived and left every day in the camp, 20 km south-west of Donetsk. Observer, He estimated that around 2,500 people were housed there, with the figure sometimes rising to 3,500–4,000. There was no running water or electricity.

See also  Reuters World News Summary | Politics

He said the atmosphere changed when about 2,000 Azov fighters were evacuated on the morning of May 17. Russian flags were raised and DNR colors were lowered. The guards were initially wary of the new prisoners. He later spoke openly about how they were going to brutalize and humiliate him, she said.

“We were often called Nazis and terrorists. One of the women in my cell was the drug Azovestal. She was pregnant. I asked if I could give him my food ration. I was told, ‘No, he is a murderer’. The only question they asked me was, ‘Do you know any Azov soldiers?'”

The condition of women prisoners was pathetic. She said that she was not tortured, but that she hardly got any food – 50 grams of bread and sometimes porridge for dinner. “It was fit for pigs,” she said. He suspected that the prison governor had embezzled the money allocated for the food. Toilets overflowed and women were not given sanitary products. The cells were so crowded that they slept in shifts. “It was tough. People were crying, worrying about their children and families.” Asked if the guards ever showed sympathy, he said that once an anonymous person left him a bottle of shampoo.

According to Vorosheva, the camp staff were brainwashed by Russian propaganda and treated Ukrainians as Nazis. Some were local villagers. “He blamed us for the fact that his life was terrible. It was like an alcoholic who says he drinks vodka because his wife is not well.

“The philosophy is: ‘Everything is terrible for us, therefore everything must be terrible for you’. It is all very communist.”

See also  Justin Bieber performs for the first time since world tour dates were canceled due to Ramsay Hunt syndrome diagnosis

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the blast “a deliberate Russian war crime and a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war”. Last week, his office and Ukraine’s defense ministry detailed clues that pointed to a Kremlin crime.

Relatives of Azov battalion soldiers protest in Kyiv after the explosion at the Olenivka prison
Friends and relatives of Azov battalion soldiers protest in Kyiv after the explosion at the Olenivka prison that killed dozens of prisoners of war. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Citing satellite images and phone intercepts and intelligence, he said Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group carried out the killings in cooperation with Vladimir Putin’s FSB spy agency. They point to the fact that a row of graves had been dug in the colony a few days before the eruption.

He alleges that the operation was approved at the “highest level” in Moscow. “Russia is not a democracy. The dictator is personally responsible for everything, be it MH17, Buka or Olenivka,” said an intelligence source. “The question is when will Putin admit his atrocities.”

One version of the events being investigated by Kyiv is that the explosion may have been the result of an inter-service rivalry between Russia’s FSB and the GRU military intelligence wing. The GRU negotiated Azovstal’s surrender with its Ukrainian army counterpart, sources suggest – a deal the FSB may be eager to doom.

The troops should have been protected by Russia’s guarantees to the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross that Azov prisoners would be treated fairly. Since the explosion, the Russians have denied international representatives any access to the site.

Vorosheva said the Red Cross was given permission to visit the camp in May. She said that the Russians took the visitors to a specially renovated room and did not allow them to freely talk to the prisoners. “It was a show,” she said. “We were asked to give our clothing sizes and were told the Red Cross would hand over something. Nothing reached us.”

Other detainees confirmed Voroshiva’s events and said that Azov soldiers were treated worse than civilians. 32-year-old volunteer worker Dmitry Bodrov told wall street journal The guards took anyone suspected of abuse to a special disciplinary section of the camp to be executed.

They came out limping and groaning, he said. Some of the detainees were forced to crawl back into their cells. Another prisoner, Stanislav Hlushkov, said a prisoner who was regularly beaten up was found dead in solitary confinement. The orderly put a sheet over his head, loaded him into the mortuary van and told fellow inmates that he had “committed suicide”.

Vorosheva was released on 4 July. It was a “miracle”, she said. “The guard read out the names of those who were about to be freed. Everyone listened silently. My heart jumped when I heard my name. I packed my things but didn’t celebrate. There were cases where people were on the list, went out, then came back. ,

He continued: “The campers represent the worst aspects of the Soviet Union. They could only behave well when they thought no one was watching.”