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Beatings, constant hunger – Ukrainians remember detention by Russians

#Beatings #constant #hunger #Ukrainians #remember #detention #Russians

Ihor Talalay was helping evacuate citizens from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in March when Russian forces arrested him, marking the beginning of a harrowing three-month ordeal for the 25-year-old.

“It was extremely difficult. What kept me going was the thought that I want to see justice and victory over those who are doing these horrible things to me,” Talalay said, adding that some of his experiences were too painful to remember.

Speaking with several others at the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Wednesday, Talalay said he had been transferred several times through various detention centers in the Donetsk region.

The worst was when he was held standing in a cell measuring three by three meters with about 30 others. Some returned to the cell with marks of torture from the electricity.

He said in addition to the beatings, he and others suffered from “constant hunger” and were only given a handful of porridge and a watery soup twice a day.

Earlier this month, an OSCE report expressed “serious concern” over alleged mistreatment of tens of thousands of Ukrainians in so-called filtration centers set up by Russia in Ukraine.

The report described “harsh interrogations and humiliating strip searches at such centers.”

It added that those found to have collaborated with Kyiv “often just disappear”, with some reportedly being transferred to Russian-controlled areas where they are detained or even murdered.

The Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIHR), a Kyiv-based Ukrainian NGO, said Wednesday that it had identified at least 18 such filtering centers.

While “filtration processes” in insurgency-ravaged eastern Ukraine were taking place before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, they have been “systematized” and are being carried out “on a very large, overwhelming scale,” according to Stanislav Miroshnychenko. a Ukrainian journalist now working at MIHR.

Another witness, Yurii Berezovskyi, said he lived in constant fear in Luhansk after Russian forces occupied the region. He was arrested and interrogated before deciding to flee via Russia.

“I was lucky because I got fired. But (the Russians) said ‘We can come back’… The most awful and frightening thing about all of this is you don’t know where you’re going to end up,” the 32-year-old former music teacher said.

Olha Tabachuk, who also spoke to reporters after speaking at a meeting of OSCE delegates, said her family had not heard from her 38-year-old son since he was arrested while helping Ukrainians evacuate.

“I don’t know if he’s alive or not… It’s pure terror… I can’t believe this is happening in this day and age,” said the 62-year-old.

The OSCE, the world’s largest security organization founded in 1975, currently has 57 member states, including Russia.

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