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Police identify men suspected of running torture chamber in occupied Kharkiv Oblast

by Elsa Court January 11, 2024 4:59 PM 1 min read
Investigators at the site of an aggregate factory in Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, which was used as a torture chamber under Russian occupation. (National Police)
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Two men suspected of having helped Russian forces torture over 500 people in Vovchansk in Kharkiv Oblast have been identified, the National Police reported on Jan. 11.

Vovchansk, which is around 60 kilometers northeast of Kharkiv and close to the Russian border, was occupied by Russian forces between Feb. 24, 2022, and Sept. 11, 2022.

According to the National Police, the suspects turned the town's aggregate factory into the largest torture chamber in Kharkiv Oblast.

Both men, the Ukrainian-born Anton Politov and the Russian-born Zakhar Zubkov, joined Russian proxy forces in Luhansk following Russia's illegal occupation of the region in 2014.

They reportedly "coordinated and participated" in the torture of local residents who refused to cooperate with the Russian occupying forces after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Politov and Zubkov also allegedly tortured locals to obtain information about the Ukrainian military and to identify those who opposed Russian occupation.

According to the police, the victims were held in the factory for months, with some prisoners held for more than half a year. Among the victims were elderly people, the National Police said.

The men have been informed that they are suspected of violating the laws and customs of war, accompanied by cruel treatment of the civilian population.

The pre-trial investigation is ongoing and "the police continue to collect evidence of the involvement of other persons involved in the torture of civilians in Vovchansk."

If convicted, the men could face up to 12 years in prison. The National Police did not provide information as to their whereabouts.

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