Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an awarding ceremony for Russian team members who won medals at the Winter Paralympic games on March 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
- An Associated Press investigation found Russian soldiers committed torture at 10 sites in Izium.
- Torture of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians was widespread during the Russian occupation, AP found.
- A UN investigation recently concluded Russia committed war crimes, including torture, in Ukraine.
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Russian soldiers tortured both soldiers and civilians across 10 locations in Izium, according to an investigation published by The Associated Press on Sunday.
Through more than a dozen interviews with survivors and on-the-ground reporting, AP’s investigation concluded torture in the city was “arbitrary, widespread, and absolutely routine for both civilians and soldiers.” Russian troops first occupied Izium, located in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, during the early months of the war in April. But successful counteroffensives by Ukrainian forces last month pushed the Russians back. After six months of occupation, Ukrainians retook the city on September 10.
The Russian retreat was quickly followed by reports of atrocities. Ukrainian officials said they were working to identify more than 400 civilians who had been buried in a mass grave in which some of the corpses showed signs of torture, including evidence of ropes tied around their hands and necks.
A mass burial was found in Izyum, Kharkiv region. Necessary procedures have already begun. All bodies will be exhumed and sent for forensic examination. Expect more information tomorrow.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Izium could be added to the list of places where Ukrainian civilians were subject to violence at the hands of Russian soldiers: “Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izium.”
The 10 separate sites where torture took place identified by AP included an underground jail, a police station, a kindergarten, and a sunless pit in which someone had carved dates into the walls.
Mykola Mosyakyn, a 38-year-old Ukrainian soldier, told AP he was captured and tortured several times.
“They beat me with sticks. They hit me with their hands, they kicked me, they put out cigarettes on me, they pressed matches on me,” he said. “They said, ‘Dance,’ but I did not dance. So they shot my feet.”
Mosyakyn said there were rooms specifically for waterboarding and electrocution at one of the torture sites located at a school. He saw bodies of civilians who had been tortured to death dragged away, and at night could hear screams from the women, who were kept away from the male prisoners, he told AP. Intelligence officials in Ukraine said the women were repeatedly raped by Russian soldiers.
—The Associated Press (@AP) October 2, 2022
Reports of torture committed by Russian soldiers have circulated almost since the war began. Investigators commissioned by the United Nations concluded last month that horrific war crimes had been committed in Ukraine. The investigation found Russian soldiers committed rape and torture, including against children, and in some cases made families of the victims watch. The UN team said a slew of other war crimes have been committed by Russian forces, including the use of certain prohibited weapons systems, airstrikes in crowded areas, and civilian executions.Torture, whether performed on soldiers or civilians, is a war crime under international law.Russian troops have also been documented discussing potential war crimes. In audio intercepted by Ukrainian officials and obtained by The New York Times, one Russian soldier told his girlfriend he had received an order to “kill everyone we see,” including civilians.