Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
13th March, 2016
The TV channel “Zvezda” has published excerpts from the report “War crimes of the Ukrainian Security & Armed Forces: torture and inhumane treatment,” prepared by a non-governmental organization “Foundation for the Study of Democracy” and the “Russian Public Council for International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy”, with the support of the “Russian Peace Foundation”. The “Foundation for the study of democracy” is chaired by a member of the Public chamber of the Russian Federation – Maksim Grigoriev.
The experts recorded the testimonies of those who were transferred to the Ukrainian side during the exchange of prisoners. The report used the results of a survey of more than 200 prisoners released by the Ukrainian side. The survey was conducted by the experts of the Foundation during the period from 25th August 2014 to 20th January 2015.
A representative of public organization “Planeta Detey”, Tatiana Zemlenuhina, testifies: “Our office was in Kiev on 4b Grushevskogo street, behind the “Dnipro” hotel. During the events in January-February of 2014, I actively helped “Berkut” and the internal military forces as a volunteer in the Ivan Protsenko group. At the same time I was a member of the movement “Clean Kiev” and the national liberation movements. I participated in the rallies against the events in Maidan in front of the U.S. Embassy, the court of justice, and on the Bessarabia Square. I contacted Russian TV channel Russia-1, about this. I also participated in the program “Ukraine is on fire. No crossing point” on Crimean television.
My associates told me that I was on the “Right Sector’s” lists. For this reason, I decided to leave Kiev and go to Crimea. Then I decided to come back. On the 9th of July, I went on the train from Sevastopol. After crossing the border I was taken off the train. All my personal belongings were put in the car, which drove away in an unknown direction. I later learned that it was the building of the security service of Ukraine in Zaporozhye. I was put under psychological pressure and was threatened with the death of my family”.
Injured Igor Lyamin, detained on 14th September by the staff of the “Dnepr” battalion, describes in detail how he was tortured: He was hung up on a rack, on a “swing”, and was struck with electric shocks; his wife was grabbed and tortured also. In addition, he gives the code names of those who subjected him to torture at the Dnepr-1 base: “I was captured by battalion “Dnepr”. I went fishing, I was captured, brought to the local police station and immediately from the start, was beaten. They used everything that they could – sticks, feet, and they hit me on the head with their pistol. My head was swollen. Then they put me on the rack: this means my hands behind my back, hands in handcuffs.
They twisted my arms mercilessly. Then they made something they called the “swing”. It’s a long hexagon-shaped crowbar. My hands were in handcuffs and under my feet, and were pulled over the bar. Then I was left hovering over the bar. My bones were almost pushed through my skin. My hands still do not work in these parts. Last time they left me there for 20 minutes, then they took me off and began to pour water over me and zap me with electric. This lasted until I started to lose consciousness.
They did not allow me to sleep. If I started to fall asleep, the torments were repeated. It turns out that my wife was tortured. They took her and kept in the next cell. They broke all of her toes on her left foot. I signed all the papers, in which I was accused, and I was taken to the SBU. I still do not know what they were trying to figure out. I don’t know why they did all these things. I’ve studied history and not even the Germans would torture people like this.
After the detention we were sent to Dneprodzerzhinsk, to the base of Dnepr-1. Callsigns of those who served there are X, Albina, and Max. They tormented us however they wanted, they fired shots over our heads. Nearly everyone had broken limbs, but they were forced to do push-ups. One person was actually almost buried in a pit. They wanted to kill me. It lasted for four days, and then we were taken to the Kharkov SBU.
There I had an ulceration. I was taken to the emergency room in Kharkov. The doctors gave me an endoscopy and did all the tests: I had a severe bleeding ulcer. But they had taken me under a false name. They said, just give any name or address. The doctors wanted to put me in the hospital. But they were forbidden, and i was sent back to the SBU, and until I was exchanged I had to suffer unbearable pain. The ulcer was in addition to the bruises all over my body.”
Another victim of torture by the Ukrainian security forces, Dmitry Ermakov, was a member of “Anti-maidan” movement in Mariupol. On the 18th September 2014, near his home, he was captured by the Ukrainian National Guard. He testifies: “In the yard there was a foreign car without a registration number. When I passed it by, four men in camouflage uniforms and masks, armed with machine guns, came out. I was taken to the territory of Mariupol airport, where the bases of the national guard were. After arriving I spent an hour and a half on my knees.
For negative or evasive answers, I was threatened with torture, maiming, and death. From 20th to 23th September I was locked in a fridge. On the 21st of September they brought a severely beaten young man, whose surname was Makarenko, into the refrigerator. He was detained whilst working in the “Azovstal” facility in the middle of the day because he let his friend and his friend ,who are in the “Vostok” battalion, stay at his place.
Late in the evening of the 21st September, they brought two more guys. According to them, they were detained for approaching the APU checkpoint in the dark. They did not stop at the roadblock, and turned around and went back to their village. Their actions were explained by the fact that they were intoxicated and decided to check out a recently purchased car. They reported that they were approaching their village, when the military personnel of APU caught up with and fired at the car without warning, forcing them to stop. They were beaten up, and they shot at the ground near their heads.
After some time, they brought some young people detained because they were fishing near the fence of the Azov sea port. They told other detainees that they were on their way to the airport then they were beaten and tortured with a Taser”.
The victim, Pavel, testifies that the reason for his detention and torture was his telephone conversation with the Deputy of the Donetsk People’s Republic: “First, I had a conversation politely, then a man came in and started kicking me in the ribs. I felt sick, so they gave me a pill. I had cramps, and my body went numb. They wanted me to confess that I was a gun spotter. It is not true. They listened to my phone, but I had just talked to the Deputy of the Donetsk People’s Republic, nothing more. They drove me to the Dnepr-1 practice ground, and there they simply threw people into three meter deep pits, and forced us to dig the graves.”
Denis Gavrilin, who was detained by the Ukrainian National guard on 31st July 2014 at a checkpoint and handed over to the Azov battalion, says: “Every two or three hours they would interrogate us. There were a lot of things. They drowned me, covered my eyes, put a towel or cloth over my face. I could not see. My hands were tied behind my back. Also, holding my head from behind, putting the cloth on my face, they poured water on top of me. I don’t know if it was from a bottle or from a kettle… I didn’t see, but it felt like drowning. Then I brought to life. And so on.
Since I already had a broken knee, but they saw the girdle on my leg, on my knee, and broke it again. This happened on the first day. Then they put nails under my toenails.. This sensation felt like veins were popping out of my neck. Like my whole life was being sapped from me, the pain leaving me numb. They threw me into a pit with dead bodies. There were firing squad executions. They would push me into the pit, into a peculiar smell – the effect of the execution. There were many other things. I know a guy who got four of his front teeth pulled out with flat-nose pliers. I also saw many guys on the crowbar “swing”.
Valery Borzov from Krasnoarmeysk speaks how he was tortured by officers of the security service of Ukraine: “On November 7th 2014, I was detained by SBU officers and taken away into a basement in Krasnoarmeysk. In the basement I was beaten on the head, legs, back, and kidneys. In the process I lost consciousness twice, but I was doused with water and I regained consciousness. During the torture I was beaten with hands and feet to my head and in the stomach, and I again lost consciousness.
Having seated me on my knees, they beat me on my legs, and then hanged me by my hands, tied behind my back (“swallow”), on some kind of chain or rope and severely beat me. Afterwards they put me down from the “swallow” and beat me several times on the head with some bars. Later I was sat down in a chair and was forced to read a text to a camera. I was threatened with violence against my family if I didn’t do it, so I did”.
The rebel Pavel Borisov speaks about how he was beaten by the National Guard, who tore his wounds open, “On July 19th 2014, I was captured. I was ambushed from three sides and captured in a serious condition. In captivity we were brutalized. They beat us on the head and pressed on the wound to make it bleed. I have six bullet wounds and a shrapnel wound. I was dragged, tortured, insulted, and taken outside to be shot.
The SBU sent us to the city of Kramatorsk, where we were in the hospital for a day, then moved to the Kharkov SBU, which did not let us in, so we were again admitted to the hospital.
I lost a lot of blood, my wounds attacked, pressed on my shrapnel and bullet wounds, poked their fingers in the bullet holes, twisted in different directions and laughed. They watched me bleed out. They filmed the torture and abuse. It was the National Guard. And the next day they came and wanted to take us away to be shot, but the other guards did not allow them.
The doctors did not even try and get the shrapnel out. One bullet stuck in my arm, breaking the bone in half, the doctors did not do anything about because they didn’t care. They just applied the cream and injected painkillers. They tried to stop me from bothering them by saying, “it will heal”, “it will be irritated for some time and will eventually heal, it’s okay”. The bullets are still in my body.
Then the doctors took me to the SBU again even though I still had wounds. In the hospital there were people who had been beaten, burned with swastikas and the the words “SS”. Other people had broken bodies and faces beyond recognition, like pears. Every part of their bodies was beaten and had flesh hanging from their bones”.
Militiaman Andrei Panchenko was captured on 14th January 2015. He says: “My friends asked me to drive them to the city of Dokuchayevsk. We stopped at the Ukrainian checkpoint. We were thrown on the floor, our hands and legs tied, occasionally were beaten, pulling a hat over my head, wrapping it with tape so that it was difficult to breathe. They loaded us into their car and drove away. When we arrived, we were all thrown in some dark room. And one by one they began to carry us out whilst we were still completely tied up. They put me on a chair, holding my feet under it, and put my hands behind the back of the chair.
Then they hit me on the legs and on shoulders with a hammer, an ordinary hammer. They went on until I lost consciousness. This procedure occurred for three days. Three times I was put up against a wall, fire a gun close to me and said that one day they will not miss. On the 13th day, towards the evening, a car drove up and took us all away, saying that civilians should be killed. And the two of us who had ID cards were supposed to be taken to the police and to jail. We drove for a long time, and when we finally arrived, were tied up, with hats covering our eyes. After the first day we did not make contact with the SBU. Then they started questioning us.
After I told them what I had already told the military, they hit me in the groin with a stun gun and added voltage, it kept getting more and more painful. The shock was very painful. It got to the point where, after screaming, I said: “Just shoot me, why are you torturing me? I don’t know anything”. Then the investigator came in and said that I was in the legal field”.
The data received by the ‘Foundation for the study of democracy’ allows us to assert that the Ukrainian Armed Forces, National Guard, and other units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) systematically and deliberately violated article 3 of the European Convention on human rights: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The scale and systematic torture also allows us to draw a reasonable conclusion that their use is a deliberate policy of those structures that mandated their leadership.