Anastasia, Wita and Jana were captured by Russian soldiers in different places, but they met in prisons. Today, they are scholarship holders of the Polish Fund named after Blessed Klemens Szeptycki, which financially supports Ukrainian war orphans and women returning from captivity. They told about the conditions in which they were held by the Russians.
– IN Russia we were beaten and forced to sing the Russian national anthem. Each time we were taken out of the cell, they beat us on the legs, several times a day. They beat us for not wanting to learn their anthem or for not answering their questions, Anastazja tells PAP.
This 20-year-old girl is a soldier who fought in Mariupol, which is now occupied by the Russians. She was captured when her unit was withdrawing from the Metallurgical Plant. Illich and hit the Russian positions.
– We were detained when the Russians searched our belongings and realized that we were military. They brought us to a huge hangar where women and the wounded were kept apart. The men were elsewhere. They fed us one piece of bread a day and gave us a sip of water. So we lived a few days. We slept on the floor, there was nothing to cover ourselves with.
40 women in one cell
In the next stage, Anastasia was sent to the former penal colony in Olenivka, in the Russian-controlled part of the Donetsk Oblast. This is one of the so-called filtration camps where Russians check whether detained Ukrainians are dangerous to the Russian regime.
– There were 40 of us women in one cell, which was intended for six people. We slept on the floors again,” she says.
From Oleniwka, the girl went to Russian Taganrog. It was there that she was beaten and humiliated for refusing to sing the Russian national anthem. Then Anastasia was transported to the Crimea. – Although we were kept there in a special cell for prisoners of war, we were forced to work on the renovation of the detention facilities – says a young military woman.
She checked the travel documents
Wita is an officer of the State Border Guard Ukraine. On the night of February 23-24, when Russia launched an open invasion of her country, she checked the documents of travelers crossing the border with Russia in Bachivsk in the Sumy region.
– I was taken prisoner on February 24 and on the same day I was transported to Russia, to Sevsk near the Ukrainian border. Then I ended up in the detention center in Kursk. They welcomed us there, as they say, as it should be. The guards were very brutal, they pulled our hair, they took our fingerprints all the time,” she recalls.
– In Russia, we were told all the time that Ukraine does not want us, that it does not need us. We were told that no one was waiting for us there. – When I fell ill in detention, I could not ask for any help. I felt so weak that I fell to the floor. The girls in the cell raised the alarm and finally they took an interest in me. I tried to hold on while thinking about the children. I had to survive to get home. Family, children, husband – it helps – admits Wita.
The worst thing was the uncertainty about tomorrow
On February 24, the journalist Jana was in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, where she came to visit her brother serving in the army.
– I immediately started to give our data on the Russian troops that entered the zone. Unfortunately, when the telecommunications tower was destroyed, I couldn’t clean my phone. I was detained and taken to the detention center in Kursk. I spent half a year there, she says.
According to Jana, the worst part of her first time in Russia was the uncertainty about the next day. – The fear came only after that. The worst was when I heard them beating our boys. You can’t react to it in any way.
– You hear the screams of the tortured, you call the guards and ask why they are being beaten. They answer: who is being beaten? Have you seen it with your own eyes? they ask. You tell them you hear screams and they laugh in your face.
After the exchange of prisoners and return to the country, the three women returned to their families and their own lives. “It’s still hard for me, but I’m trying to get back to a normal life. I work, as before, in the Border Guard, I live in Kiev – says Wita.
– I’m still a journalist, I’m working in my newspaper again – he informs Jana. – And I went back to the front. Now I am fighting in the Donetsk region, ”adds Anastasia.
Main photo source: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine/Facebook