A report published yesterday which documents the routine use of torture in Izium, a small city in eastern Ukraine which was recently recaptured after months of Russian occupation. The Associated Press sent reports to the city and spoke with residents who identified 10 locations which had been used by Russians to torture both Ukrainian military personnel and civilians.

Russian torture in Izium was arbitrary, widespread and absolutely routine for both civilians and soldiers throughout the city, an Associated Press investigation has found. While torture was also evident in Bucha, that devastated Kyiv suburb was only occupied for a month. Izium served as a hub for Russian soldiers for nearly seven months, during which they established torture sites everywhere.

Based on accounts of survivors and police, AP journalists located 10 torture sites in the town and gained access to five of them. They included a deep sunless pit in a residential compound with dates carved in the brick wall, a clammy underground jail that reeked of urine and rotting food, a medical clinic, a police station and a kindergarten…

At a mass grave site created by the Russians and discovered in the woods of Izium, at least 30 of the 447 bodies recently excavated bore visible marks of torture — bound hands, close gunshot wounds, knife wounds and broken limbs, according to the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office. Those injuries corresponded to the descriptions of the pain inflicted upon the survivors.

The story, which was co-published with PBS Frontline, is full of first person accounts. For instance, a 38-year-old Ukrainian soldier named Mykola Mosyakyn who was captured and tortured three separate times by the Russians.

“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 recounted. “They said, ‘Dance,’ but I did not dance. So they shot my feet.”

After three days they dropped him near the hospital with the command: “Tell them you had an accident.”…

He was captured again, taken to a different location, beaten and released again. He has no idea why he was released. The third time he was captured he was taken to a garage connected to a medical clinic where both men and women were being held.

Women were held in the garage closest to the soldiers’ quarters. Their screams came at night, according to Mosyakyn and Kotsar, who were both held at the clinic at different times. Ukrainian intelligence officials said they were raped regularly.

For the men, Room 6 was for electrocution. Room 9 was for waterboarding, Mosyakyn said. He described how they covered his face with a cloth bag and poured water from a kettle onto him to mimic the sensation of drowning. They also hooked up his toes to electricity and shocked him with electrodes on his ears.

Mosyakyn survived but he saw the bodies of Ukrainian civilians who’d been tortured to death being dragged out.

The Frontline special on this topic will air next Tuesday. Here’s the trailer for it.

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