Kostiantyn Velychko, a Ukrainian volunteer from occupied Mariupol who spent 107 days in Russian captivity, filed a complaint against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights, the Ukrainian section of Radio Svoboda reported. Wełyczko claims that he was tortured by the occupiers. He described how the Russians treated the imprisoned Ukrainians. He talked about beatings, being forced to dig their own graves, electrocution. Wełyczko wants to fight for compensation.
Kostiantyn Velychko helped evacuate the inhabitants of Mariupol and towns along the coast of the Sea of Azov, which were bombarded after the start of the armed invasion Russia to Ukraine. He also took his family from Mariupol – mother, wife and daughter.
In late March, the man was detained by the Russian military at a checkpoint near Mariupol. “At that time, I was the coordinator of several organizations dealing with the evacuation of civilians. We managed to raise funds for a large bus, we received all the necessary documents. The bus was marked with the necessary symbols. But Russian soldiers stopped us anyway,” Wełyczko reported, quoted on Saturday by Ukrainian section of Radio Svoboda.
Description of torture at the hands of the Russians. Beating, being forced to dig their own graves, electrocuting
After the arrest, the volunteers were transported to the small town of Nikolske in the Donetsk region. The official reason given by the Russians was the need to obtain permission to enter Mariupol. This happened even though – as Wełyczko explained – the volunteers had passes from the Red Cross.
“Then the staging started. We hit different places. They beat us at every stage. The men who were with us were forced to dig their own graves, they were electrocuted. We were transported from place to place with taped hands and eyes. They were loaded onto trucks. We were treated like terrorists, like wild animals,” he said.
A piece of bread and a glass of water once a day
The conditions in which the Ukrainian prisoners of war were kept were terrible, the volunteer said. He said they were trapped in rooms with small windows that couldn’t be opened, metal benches and tables, and a constantly clogged toilet. Lights and music were also on in the cells around the clock.
For some time, the prisoners received a piece of bread and a glass of water a day, later the occupiers in the penal colony opened a field kitchen where vegetable soup was cooked. There was also a kind of tea, weak and without sugar – he said in an interview with Radio Swoboda.
“All our diseases were treated with water with iodine and salt. We rinsed our mouths, noses and throats with it, we all got sick. After two weeks in isolation rooms we were as sick as corpses” – said Wełyczko.
107 days in captivity. Freed “by a miracle”
The man was held in Russian captivity for 107 days. He remembered the soldiers who had detained him and passed the information on to the Ukrainian authorities. He was freed – as he claims – by a miracle: the occupation authorities of the Donetsk region agreed to it.
“We were simply thrown out of the gates of the penal colony, penniless, with poor clothes and shoes,” reported Wełyczko. He added that the release of both him and other prisoners was the result of the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities and humanitarian organizations, as well as friends and relatives who wrote requests and publicized the case in the media.
Velychko is one of more than thirty volunteer drivers who evacuated people from occupied Mariupol and were held captive by the Russian military after their arrest. Their cases have been merged into one and are being investigated by Ukrainian law enforcement officials.
Human rights violated. Complaint to the Strasbourg Court
Julia Polechina, a lawyer from the defender human rights A representative of the Sich organization told Radio Swoboda that a complaint had been filed on behalf of Wełyczko with the European Court of Human Rights. It is about Russia’s violation of several articles of the Geneva Conventions, including the prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and unlawful detention.
Main photo source: SERGEI ILNITSKY/PAP/EPA