The network of at least 20 torture chambers Russia set up in occupied Ukrainian territories was part of a calculated Russian strategy to extinguish Ukrainian identity, Wayne Jordash, head of the Mobile Justice Team, a collective of international investigators supporting Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General, told CNN.
The investigation found that Russians followed a blueprint in occupied Ukrainian territories that points to an overarching plan to subjugate Ukraine.
According to Jordash, the stages of the plan are:
- To detain and/or kill “leaders” — those who could physically or culturally resist the occupation
- To conduct filtration, where the population remaining outside the detention centers is subjected to constant monitoring and filtration, with the aim of anybody involved in resistance being either deported to Russia or detained in the detention centers and tortured.
- To remove traces of Ukrainian identity, such as the Ukrainian curriculum from schools, confiscating Ukrainian symbolic objects like flags or t-shirts in the country’s colors.
This pattern was followed in other territories occupied by Russia such as Kyiv suburbs Bucha and Borodianka, but the lengthy occupation of Kherson allowed the occupiers to go even further.
“For me, what is interesting about Kherson is you really see the microcosm of the overall criminal plan, what would have happened to [the rest of] Ukraine” he explained. “What’s horrifying, as much as the torture … is the thought of what would have happened, had Russia managed to be successful in its occupation of vast areas of Ukraine,” Jordash told CNN, adding that a larger Russian occupation would have lead to an “unprecedented” number of detentions, as well as cases of torture and killings.
The investigation has found financial links of the detention centers to the Russian state.
“These financial documents, they show that the civilian administration is being financed from Russia and the civilian administration is financing the detention centers, so you have very clear patterns and very clear links,” Jordash told.
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