Returning from Russian captivity is returning from hell. Soldiers who had just returned home to Ukraine told us what hell it was like. Some of them lost as much as 70 kilograms.
First, there was great joy that they returned from Russian captivity. Some of them were there from the very beginning of the war – 22 months. There are tears of happiness, but on their faces you can see that this is a return from hell. Bearded hair, hungry, in prison fatigues. They can barely speak due to exhaustion. – In freedom, all people are good and wonderful. I’m glad I’m back. – said one of the Ukrainian soldiers.
Food was scarce in Russian camps and prisoners were rarely released from their cells. Almost all of them were beaten and tortured. – Everyone’s physical condition is very bad. The boys are exhausted. You can see in the video and photos that each of them lost dozens of kilograms – described Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Ombudsman for Human Rights.
At first, the most important thing is to feed them. Doctors who care for former prisoners of war say that in captivity they lose from 10 to even 70 kilograms. – It’s not a matter of the fact that in captivity, what they get to eat is lacking in fats, proteins or carbohydrates. They lack everything there, says Oksana Jurkowska, an endocrinologist. Hlib Stryżko, a marine, was in captivity for two weeks because he was seriously wounded during the defense of Mariupol. He couldn’t move on his own and had a broken jaw. It was quickly replaced. – I asked the Russian nurses to feed me because I couldn’t move. They refused, so I was grateful to my friends for feeding me. But sometimes there was no one to help me, and my sisters would bring me a bowl and say, “Eat up, Banderite.” And I had no way. After two hours, they took the food away untouched, says Hlib.
Months of drama
After returning from captivity, everyone faces many months of rehabilitation. – At the beginning of the therapy, they are all very weak. They simply don’t have the strength to do anything – emphasizes Romana Makowijczuk, a physiotherapist.
It was the largest exchange of prisoners since the beginning of the war – 230 people returned from captivity. Also Hałyna Fedyszyn, who was a battlefield medic in the defense of Mariupol, was in captivity for over a year and a half. She spoke only Ukrainian there. – It doesn’t surprise me at all. She is very strong. It’s hard to break. She goes to the end to defend her principles – emphasizes Hałyna’s friend, Kateryna Cepuch. Her boyfriend, who also fought in Mariupol, had already been released from captivity. During their first meeting, he asked her to marry him. Their former commander wrote about it. – They fought together for Mariupol. They endured captivity and long separation, but their hearts never stopped beating in one rhythm, said Serhiy Volynsky.
Heavy fighting continues on the front. Ukraine badly needs Western support, but in the United States there is still no decision by Congress on a new aid package for Kiev. Russia not only increases its weapons production, but also begins to use the help of its allies. – Our information shows that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recently supplied Russia with rocket launchers and several ballistic missiles, reports John Kirby of the US National Security Council. These rockets were used in recent Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian cities.
Main photo source: Reuters