KHERSON — Huge numbers of Ukrainians were detained by Russians occupying Kherson. Many of them were interrogated by torture.
The chief prosecutor of Kherson Oblast, Volodymyr Kalyuga, said that locals were tortured at four sites throughout the city.
According to interviews with local officials and residents, these included a pre-trial detention center, the abandoned headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine, and another government building claimed by Russia’s security service, the FSB.
Electric shocks were a common torture method, along with beatings with various objects and depriving the victims of air. Some people died under torture, though the majority were eventually released.
Russian forces, beset on all sides by assassinations, sabotage, and insurgent-enabled artillery strikes, hauled people in by the hundreds, suspecting them of working for the Ukrainian forces.
Many people were detained for having weapons or military equipment in their homes, but others were taken merely for being outspokenly pro-Ukrainian.
Volunteers and activists were also hunted down, including Roman Baklazhov, a city councilman who organized initiatives to feed Kherson residents. The Russians possibly picked him up for his month-and-a-half-long association with the right-wing nationalist group Right Sector in 2014, as well as some social media posts from that year.
Baklazhov described being held in a cell with a dozen people for about two months. He said he was shocked with electricity when Russians didn’t like his answers.
He was tortured for only one day, “but that was enough,” he said. He said he also experienced psychological torture, hearing the screams of other men and women being interrogated, which made him and his fellow prisoners unable to eat.
Baklazhov said he now has trouble concentrating due to the trauma. He is now receiving psychological aid while continuing to organize volunteer work and hopes to eventually recover.
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