A prisoner’s story about torture among Russians in Kherson

A prisoner’s story about torture among Russians in Kherson


He was held in custody for weeks, beaten and electrocuted. He urinated blood. He lost 25 kilograms and contemplated suicide.

Anatoly Stotsky survived weeks of abuse by Russian and pro-Russian forces who occupied the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson and threatened to kill his family.

“I thought about killing myself,” Stotsky told AFP in an interview.

“But thinking about my family gave me the moral strength to endure it all,” said the Ukrainian, who turned 50 in prison.

After the withdrawal of the Russian army last week after eight months of occupation, shocking reports of ill-treatment, abuse and torture in Kherson are emerging.

Stotsky, speaking to AFP at his home in central Kherson, said he was arrested twice and held for weeks in detention, where he was tied up, beaten and electrocuted by Russian and pro-Russian forces.

Stotsky, a member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Force, witnessed Russian troops capture Kherson on March 2.

After occupying the strategic Black Sea port, he received orders to stay at home and await instructions. A few weeks later, the Russians began arresting Kyiv sympathizers.

On April 25, the Russians took Stotsky, who was home with his wife and three-year-old daughter.

“I gave them my gun because they threatened to kill my family,” he said.

The Russians hooded him and took him to a police station near his home.

In a cell, he was tied to a chair and interrogated by three or four people.

“They hit me with a club and put a pistol or rifle to my head,” he said. Stotsky received slaps on the ears and head when the Russians apparently tried not to leave a trace.

Masked men – who he took to be members of the Russian security service FSB – questioned him on camera about the weapon found in his house.

The Russians took his fingerprints and a DNA sample. He was banned from leaving the city and ordered to cooperate with the Moscow Armed Forces.

He was released on May 4 and thrown into the street with a hood over his head.

– “covered with bruises” –

“When I came home I was completely blue, I was covered in bruises,” he said.

He arranged for his wife and daughter to leave the city by passing through a checkpoint near Zaporizhia, some 300 kilometers northeast of Kherson. He himself stayed behind, saying he was too scared to leave.

Stotsky was arrested again on July 6 as members of the civilian resistance movement in the city became increasingly active, he said.

He believes that the second time he was most likely captured by members of the Ministry of State Security of the Donetsk People’s Republic, which was annexed by President Vladimir Putin at the end of September.

The men told Stotsky they knew he had been in custody but said he was not properly interrogated.

“Now you’re going to tell us everything you know and where your guns are,” he said, he was told.

“They beat me for the first five or six days,” he said.

“At night they wouldn’t let me sleep. Every two hours they came to my cell and forced me to get up and say my name.”

He was forced to sit handcuffed to a pipe and could not lie down.

Every time his prison guards entered his cell, he had to put a bag over his head or risk being beaten.

One day he was taken to another cell for interrogation.

– meal once every three days –

“They tied my hands and feet and laid me on the ground. They put clips on my little fingers.”

“They electrocuted me while I was on the ground. Your muscles contract and everything inside you twists.”

The Ukrainian said access to the toilet is rarely allowed and he has to use empty bottles to relieve himself.

For the first two weeks he had blood in his urine. “My kidneys weren’t working well,” he said.

He was given food every three days and believes he has lost around 25 kilograms in detention.

The cells have “holes in the walls” to allow him to talk to other inmates “so as not to lose his mind,” he added.

He was eventually released on August 20.

This time Stotsky did not return home for fear of arrest and stayed with relatives.

He said the second time he was held, he was held in a centrally located old office building with the flags of Japan, the United States and Ukraine at the entrance.

An AFP team attempted to enter the four-story building at 15 Pylyp Orlyk Street but was repelled.

“An investigation is underway,” said a man at the entrance, without giving further details.

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