NATO and Poland Say Missile Strike Was Likely Unintentional: Russia-Ukraine War Live Updates

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GENEVA — Ukrainian prisoners held by Russia or affiliated forces have been tortured, as have at least some Russians held by Ukraine, United Nations monitors reported on Tuesday after interviewing several hundred prisoners of war.

The monitors spoke with 159 Ukrainian prisoners of war, including 139 men and 20 women, after their release, since the monitors were not permitted to talk to prisoners confidentially at the detention sites they visited. They also spoke with 175 Russian prisoners of war, all men, that Ukrainian authorities allowed them confidential access to.

Most of the former Ukrainian prisoners interviewed did not report physical violence at the time of capture, though some experienced beatings, according to Matilda Bognor, the head of the U.N. human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine. Most said that Russian soldiers treated them with respect or that Russian officers protected from abuse, she said.

But on arrival at prison camps or places of detention, Ms. Bognor said, “Prisoners of war were subjected to so-called ‘admission procedures,’ which frequently involved prolonged beatings, threats, dog attacks, being stripped and put into stress positions.”

Witnesses told the monitors that at least one person had died during the “admission procedures,” and the U.N. team is trying to corroborate reports of eight other such deaths in April, Ms. Bognor said. Most were believed to have died as a result of torture or ill-treatment, she said, but some may have died from lack of medical care.

Private military contractors also reportedly shot dead a Ukrainian prisoner during questioning when they learned that he had joined Ukraine’s Army after Russia’s invasion in February, the U.N. team said.

The former Ukrainian prisoners said that inside the detention sites, Russians tortured them on a daily basis, not just to extract information but to intimidate and humiliate them, according to Ms. Bognor. They said they were beaten with batons and wooden hammers, kicked and given electric shocks with Tasers and a military phone known as a TAPik.

One prisoner said guards attached wires to his nose and genitalia and gave him electric shocks. “They simply had fun and were not interested in my replies to their questions,” he said, according to the monitors’ report.

Others reported being stabbed, shot with a stun gun, threatened with mock executions and hanged by their hands or legs and burned with cigarettes, Ms. Bognor said.

Overall conditions of internment were “dire,” former prisoners told the monitors, complaining of severe overcrowding, poor hygiene and lack of food and water. Food was also used as an instrument of humiliation and the great majority of prisoners complained of severe hunger due to the limited quantities and poor quality of what they received.

The Russian prisoners of war reported that most torture and abuse they experienced occurred when they were captured and interrogated and when they were transported to internment camps. “We have received credible allegations of summary executions of persons hors de combat and several cases of torture and ill-treatment” by Ukrainian armed forces, Ms. Bognor said.

Several Russian prisoners told the monitors that they were stabbed and given electric shocks with TAPik military phones by military or law enforcement personnel. Others reported being punched and kicked during interrogation, Ms. Bognor said.

Russian prisoners also described abusive and humiliating conditions when, often naked and with hands tied behind their backs, they were crammed into trucks or minivans for evacuation to prisons or penal colonies.

Monitors had documented ill-treatment of Russian prisoners, including “so-called welcoming beatings” at a penal colony in the Dnipropetrovska region and several pre-trial facilities, Ms. Bognor said.

Guards forced prisoners to kneel for several hours, and beat them with sticks or shocked them with Tasers if they moved, the U.N. monitors reported.

Ukraine had launched investigation into the reports of summary executions, Ms. Bognor said, “but we have not seen progress in those investigations thus far.”


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