Prisoners were tortured on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine


War in UkraineThe UN says there are many tortured prisoners on both sides

Beatings, electric shocks, various humiliations or worse: the human rights watchdog condemns many abuses on the Russian and Ukrainian sides.

Many prisoners of war (pro-Russian fighters here during prisoner exchanges) are victims of ill-treatment in the Ukrainian conflict.


The UN warned on Tuesday that many prisoners of war captured by the two conflicting sides in Ukraine after the Russian invasion on February 24 were subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Matilda Bogner, who heads Human Rights Watch’s mission in Ukraine, detailed the abuses suffered by prisoners of war on both sides.

Over the past few months, the mission has also interviewed 159 prisoners of war (139 men and 20 women) held by Russia or allied armed groups and 175 prisoners of war (all men) captured by Ukraine. The mission has unfettered access to POW detention facilities controlled by the Ukrainian government, but the United Nations, despite its requests, has yet to be granted secret access to POWs held by Russia and its allies.

Matilda Bogner, however, met with freed Ukrainian prisoners of war. He explained that those detained by Russian forces were “very systematically” tortured. Private soldiers suffered far less torture than others, especially snipers and artillerymen.

The Australian said “most” of those captured by Russian forces and their allied armed groups “told us they were tortured and ill-treated during their detention”. Not only extracting information from them, but also “intimidating and humiliating” them on a daily basis.

Different forms of sexual violence

As soon as they were caught, some were beaten and then taken to detention “often in overcrowded trucks or buses” for more than a day without access to water or toilet facilities. “Their hands were tied and their eyes were covered so tightly with duct tape that it left bruises on their wrists and faces,” Matilda Bogner said.

“Many Russian prisoners have reported poor, often humiliating conditions in detention camps and dormitories.”

Matilda Bogner, director of the Human Rights Watch mission in Ukraine

Upon their arrival, POWs were subjected to “recruitment procedures” where, according to evidence collected by the UN, they were beaten, beaten by dogs or stripped naked. Many have been victims of various forms of sexual violence. “Prisoners of war described being beaten, especially with buttons and wooden hammers, kicked and shocked”, especially with electric guns, Matilda Bogner added.

The Russians piled into trucks, naked

The UN has received “credible allegations” of summary executions and numerous torture and ill-treatment of Russian prisoners of war captured by Ukrainian forces. “We have mainly documented cases where people were captured (by kyiv, editor’s note), when they were subjected to preliminary investigation or transferred to detention centers and detention centers”, Matilda Bogner explained.

Many prisoners were stabbed or given electric shocks by Ukrainian law enforcement officers or the military. “Many reported the humiliating conditions in which they were deported to impoverished, temporary camps and shelters. Often naked, they were packed into trucks or minivans, their hands tied behind their backs.


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