Nazi/Aidar Prison. Video by Eva Bartlett

Transcript by Rawan Mahmasa:

In a liberated area of the Lugansk People’s Republic, I visited a prison that had been run by the notorious Ukrainian Nazi group the Aidar Battalion.

A 2014 Amnesty International report stated that Aidar was guilty of war crimes, noting members of Aidar have been been involved in widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.

A 2014 Newsweek article compared their crimes to those of ISIS. In 2014, Aidar took over and militarized a sausage factory near the village of Palavin Kina, north and slightly west of Lugansk. They turned part of it into a prison for LPR civilians and military. It’s unknown how many were held there over the years. Many didn’t return to their families. It’s unknown how many were killed if dead to the bodies have not yet been found. These cold, dank, narrow rooms were formerly used in the meat smoking process, but under Aidar they were turned into cells where two prisoners per cell slept on the bare ground. They were forced to defecate in the same space on the floor in one corner of the cell. The metal grating above served as a vantage point from which the torturers could look to see if prisoners were awake and if so, engage in sleep deprivation practices, including pouring cold water on the prisoners and blasting loud music.

I saw similar makeshift prisons in areas formerly controlled by terrorists in Syria, with suffocating solitary confinement cells. Likewise, prisoners endured extended periods of torture as well as execution.

The parallels are unsurprising given that both terrorists in Syria and Nazis in Ukraine have been backed and trained by the West, always under the false pretext of supporting democracy.

Sergy Belov, member of the Public Chamber of the Lugansk People’s Republic.

We are in the basement of a former sausage making factory, right where people were held. You can feel it yourself: if the temperature outside is more than 22 degrees, down here in spite of being dressed warmly, it is cold, damp. And it was the same in the summer of 2014. Even if it was fairly warm outside, it was still very very cold down below. with respect to torture, we must understand that Aidar applied not only physical torture—beating, rapes, hanging from various body parts.. they also applied psychlological torture, which Svetlana just spoke about. They brought people out for so-called firing squad executions, people, mainly blindfolded, or with bags over their heads, were brought out to the courtyard. The courtyard is quite big, they fired over their heads, laughed, and brought them back. This could be repeated several days in arrow. Next in the lack of normal conditions at all, that is, people first slept on the bare floor, and then they were only given some old mattresses. Naturally, they had nothing to cover themselves with. On top of each cell, there is a grid ceiling. People were not allowed to sleep. From above, they sang, they switched on music, if people fell asleep, they poured cold water on them. Generally speaking, sleep deprivation is one of the worst forms of torture, prohibited by all norms of international law. Here it was done very regularly. People were told that you are all in our captivity, we will make sure that no one will ever find you, no one will exchange you for anything.

The primary purpose of the moral pressure was to not only break the body of a person, but to break the spirit of a person, killing in a person the desire to live, the desire to fight. People who came here, they didn’t break down, people kept living, people kept believing, people looked for some ways out of this situation. And this point, the attempt to break people psychologically, it is also, among other things, generally included in the concept of torture, that is, inhumane conditions were created for people.

One of the things in this regard, by the way, is the toilet that we saw above , it was built two months after they started holding people here. Before that, people were forced to dig holes in the same cell they were in, in the earthen floor, and bury their feces and everything else right there.

The process of washing, it was from the realm of fantasy. The only time where they brought people out to wash themselves was before the exchange.

It should be noted that before the exchange, a person was dressed, was given the opportunity to wash. They understood that they were committing a war crime and that during the exchange TV channels and others could be filming for the exchange, they started to feed the person, started to get the person into better shape, in order to show less signs of beating and everything else. They knew they were committing a crime and they tried to hide it.

But nevertheless, all of this is recorded, this data is in the possession of the security  services of the Lugansk People’s Republic, and now it has been provided to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Data on the people who carried out the tortures. By the interrogations, we can find out……  although they didn’t see faces, nevertheless, the guys, the women, who were held here, they heard communication. That is, at least call signs, some pieces of data and we believe that the people who applied such inhumane torture to inhabitants of the Lugansk People’s Republic, they will be convicted.

For eight years, not a single Ukrainian or pan-European institution that raises its banners in support of democracy—be it Human Rights Watch, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and all the rest……they have all tried very hard not to take not of what is happening here. Despite the fact that information that was received from people liberated from here in 2014 and 2015 was disseminated by us, including on Youtube and elsewhere. To these people, taking into account that were provided all their data, they could come to Lugansk and talk to them if desired.

No one from European, American,  worldwide international human rights organizations contacted these people or wanted after all to investigate the crimes committed in the territory of this sausage making factory.

If we speak about extortion and speak about torture of Ukraine’s citizens, then in the criminal code of Ukraine, even now, this is a crime—application of physical violence to civilians. They can be convicted both under the criminal code of Ukraine itself. If we speak about the case of Ivan, where they considered him a combatant- although this is a matter of argument, but nevertheless they considered him a combatant-this is use of torture on a prisoner of war which is forbidden by the St .Petersburg Convention on confinement of Prisoners of War, and which does not comply with the law of The Hague.

On the whole, this is a crime against humanity. And such cases should be considered by the Criminal Court. But, we have become very convinced that the system of European and global law, it looks at the situation taking place in Ukraine somewhat one-sidedly, overlooking some crimes and even without clear evidence—highlighting others. Right now, we are seeing what can be called a crisis of international law and international criminal law.

But in any case, such people should be punished, and the idea should be condemned which is very important, the idea that gave them a certain moral feeling that they are entitled to torture their  fellow citizens and to apply such measures of mental and physical violence. {Nazi graffiti in the prison}   Donbass will be ours.  No mercy. There were two guns on stands here. They put the person there and there was a mock execution. Fragments from concrete ricocheted and injured people. Do you see the marks? Mock executions of people were carried out. Many were taken out of the cells and told that this is a death chamber, these are your last steps.

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