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12/05/2022
The man was kidnapped and told about torture and interrogation

“They do it… with a pleasure”, the Headman of a village in the Kherson region says about crimes of the Russian military

Volunteers helped evacuate Mr. Victor and his wife Kateryna from the Kherson region. Photo: Daria Averchenko

Stara Zburiivka was occupied since the first day of the full-scale Russian invasion. Victor Maruniak, the Headman of the village in the Kherson region, was abducted and tortured by Russians for a few weeks. Eventually, he and his wife evacuated. He tells the whole story of this crime.

In the first few days, the village residents removed road signs. Then, about two weeks later, the first “Z”-marked car arrived. Local villagers were frightened by that fact. Later the Russians came en masse. Somebody had shown them where Victor lives. About 40 Russians arrived at Victor’s house — a few cars with machine guns. They started interrogation with strange questions.

Victor found out that they needed a safe place to spend the night, and about 30 Russians stayed in his house. They slept everywhere: on the floor, in the beds, in the corridor, in the living room. They sat in the kitchen and ate their dry rations. Then Russians dug up four pits in Victor’s yard and got into them with their machine guns. Russians took away Victor’s, his wife’s, and their neighbors’ mobile phones — occupiers were scared that people could tell somebody about them. The next day they turned the phones back and decided to stay in the local house of culture and school. So first, they knocked down the door and broke walls in a building. Then, they arranged a few checkpoints.

The Russians left the village for two weeks. On March 21, Mr. Victor visited lonely old people in the village. The wife called and said that the Russians parked the cars near their house. When the man returned, the occupiers put him in a car and took him to one of the village’s houses. Three arrested and beaten men were already in the yard at that time. The Russians also beat Victor and explained that he was the “gang leader.” Then the occupiers took the detainees to the local recreation center “Zburivskii Kut.” The men slept standing up the first night. For three days, the occupiers beat the abducted Ukrainians. Victor was beaten so badly that he can’t remember being electrocuted.

In captivity, Victor’s first breakfast was a cup of tea. The occupiers put a gun to his temple and demanded incomprehensible confessions. The Russians also undressed the prisoners and held them for several hours.

On the fourth day, the Russians put a sack on the prisoners’ heads and took them to Kherson. There, Victor was beaten and tortured again. The Russians also doused the prisoners with cold water to keep the water flowing down their backs. “They do it… with a pleasure.”

The Russians kept Victor in solitary confinement. Sometimes Victor got breakfast, but often he didn’t eat for several days. The Russians refused to give painkillers. Victor was also interrogated, but no one recorded his testimony. A few weeks later, the occupiers released the man — but only because human rights activists began to actively fight for his release.

Mr. Victor and his wife Kateryna after the evacuation. Photo: Daria Averchenko

When Victor was released and had an X-ray, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and nine broken ribs. The man was hospitalized for ten days. The wounds on Victor’s body do not heal even after two months. The Russians robbed his house during his absence: they stole everything from food to his wife’s gold jewelry. After all the suffering they went through, the husband and wife decided to leave the village. Victor left his home and 80 bushes of grapes. Recently, the Russians re-searched his house and broke down the door. Kateryna, Victor’s wife, is still recovering from interrogation in her backyard during her husband’s abduction.

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