Dmitriy Galko met Ukrainians who were kidnapped in Crimea. He spoke about their meeting in his blog:
From the very beginning, I did not like someone’s light hand in bringing into use the phrase “polite people” when referring to the invaders of Crimea. I think it could be a part of the informational war, which works to voice Putin’s assertion that there can be no intervention if no shot has been fired and that, therefore, there was no intervention in Crimean, but rather something like an operation to restore order.
One who is familiar with the history may recall such interventions, for example, when Hitler took Sudetenland. However, I do want to talk not about the historical analogies but the false image of the “polite” occupier. It took me one meeting in a Kherson hospital with guys who were kept captive in Crimea for nearly two weeks for that image to crumble into dust. Their names are Andrij Schekun and Yuri Shevchenko. The only thing that unites them is the Crimean captivity hell that they experienced. Before, they did not know each other.
Andriy, a conscious Ukrainian is originally from Lviv and has a degree in philology. For the last 23 years, he has lived in Bakhchisarai with his wife. His wife is a local and their three children were born and raised in Crimea. He led the civil organization “Ukrainian House,” fought for the establishment of a Ukrainian school and, in recent months, was an activist of the Crimean Euromaidan. He is a very well known public figure. Prior to the 200th anniversary celebration of the birth of Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian poet, Andrij went to the train station in Simferopol to pick up 50 Ukrainian flags that had been sent to him from mainland Ukraine. This ended for him with nearly two weeks in captivity.
Yuri a young lad from Pavlograd, Dnipropetrovsk, has no real interest in politics. His lack of interest was nearly fatal for him because he believed his Crimean friend when he said that on the peninsula all is “quiet, normal,” and accepted his invitation to come for a visit, taking with him a backpack “with things for the season.” He was also detained at the train station in Simferopol, where he was taken for a member of “some radical activist organization.”
“They were very aggressive people,” says Yuri. “When I asked whether they were the police or something else, they wrung my hands behind my back, handcuffed me, took me by the collar and threw me into a vehicle on the floor between the front and rear seats. They shouted, calling me a billy-goat and a freak, that I came there to spoil everything. Then the man sitting in the front seat took out a knife and threatened that they would cut me, there and then, into pieces. And, he cut a piece off my ear.”
Yuri was taken somewhere, thrown out on the street and beaten severely right on the pavement. Afterwards, he was transferred to another group. If the first group was somewhat similar in description to the so-called “self-defense of the Crimea”, the second group was dressed in the uniform of the “Russian Birch,” — masked, with radios, and armed with machine guns. Someone among them said: “shoot his fucking feet.” And Yuri was indeed shot in both feet. The bullets were taken out in Kherson, more than a week later.
Yuri was dragged into a room, thrown face down onto the floor, where he lay in a pool of his own blood, and then stripped to his underwear and tied to a chair with tape so that it was impossible for him to move. He asked his captors where he was and what happened to him.
“Think about it,” they answered back: “Why did you travel here? What were your plans? What, you don’t understand where you have ended up?” all in an insolent tone,” says Yuri.
It was all taking place as if during a war, without even creating the appearance that the laws were being followed, he says. Though it is common to speak of the “fog of war,” really, a crime remains a crime even, even in war conditions. That is why a hope remains that the guilty will someday answer before the law.
Every now and then, while Yuri was kept captive, he was visited by a man who silently aimed a gun at him, as if he was about to shoot him. Afterwards, when Yuri was able to free himself from the tape, he was handcuffed to a radiator.
“The interrogations, questioning, and more interrogations… Well, I had nothing to hide, I told them everything, but my simple story did not satisfy them. They wanted stories about the militants of the Right Sector, where are their troops hiding in the mountains… But how would I know?” says Yuri.
After a while, Yuri was brought to the rest of the hostages. They were all blindfolded and for several days were not taken out to the toilets, so they had to go under themselves.
Yuri adds that he “was lucky.” On account of the severe injuries that were inflicted on him initially, they did not bother him specifically. He was even allowed to sleep on a mattress while the others huddled on the floor or on chairs.. “Among us was a guy who participated in the Euromaidan in Kyiv, he was constantly treated cruelly. In addition to physical torture and training (sit-ups, push-ups), they forced him to sing Russian and Soviet anthems, to shout Glory to Russia etc. New people constantly arrived to torture him.
“Although I did not know the guy at all, they were tearing out my soul through the cruelty inflicted on him, as this torture was taking place in our presence… Oh, how terribly he screamed! I thought that I had ended up in hell for eternity,” says Yuri with a trembling voice.
Andriy Schekun along with his companion, 64-year-old Anatoly Kowalski, a teacher at the Agricultural University in Simferopol, suffered through the same ordeal. The only difference is that they really were present at the train station with a “political” purpose and were initially detained by the police “for clarification.” More precisely, by the warriors with red armbands and Soviet-style St. George (black and orange) ribbons who took them to an office. But from there they were taken by people, with an unknown status, and driven to a basement in Anatoly Kowalski’s car, which they stole. The men were beaten, their hands were tied, they eyes blindfolded and they were stripped naked.
Andriy and Anatoly were also tortured by electric shock. What did they want? All asked for the same things: databases, passwords, names of the fighters of the Right Sector.
Some kind of premonition made Andriy move his family to the mainland just a few days before the occupation. But in Bakhchysarai he left his three-room apartment. Anatoly Kowalski still has a house in Simferopol. He will not be able to return there while their land is occupied by the “polite people,” but, to be more exact, the paranoid sadists.
Translated by Oxana Hapjuk from Russia, hands off Ukraine!