O brave RU world

Putin’s supporters are touting him as a defender of a “Russian world” (russkiy mir). In an earlier post, I have mentioned “Russian-worlders” abusing a patriotic Ukrainian lady. She has been freed and the BBC has some details on her ordeal and release. However the BBC abridged and sanitized its account of the woman’s treatment by Russians and separatists. Radio Free Europe has a good report in English. Radio Liberty has more but in Russian. I have translated some of the captive’s story.

Detained for giving clothes to Ukraine soldiers, she was brought to the headquarters of Battalion East (Vostok). The captors searched her belongings:

It was a screenshot I had made to show an acquaintance so she would know that these people had appeared in Donetsk – not Ukrainians, not even Russians but mercenaries from other countries [Ossetia is part of Russia though]. When they found a photo of Zaur, he first abused me cruelly – he forced me to stretch my arm and yell “Sieg Heil!” because he said I was a fascist [Russians often call Nazis “fascists”]. When I refused, I was beaten. I was lying on the floor and he squatted by and started screaming in my year – I don’t know how many times, several dozens: “Sieg Heil!” – all of them screamed. I covered my head. They said: “Turn around, let’s see how we’re going to rape you now. How many men do you want – 10, 20? There’s a lot of us here. We can supply 40 or 50 men for you!” All that lasted for a very long time. I told them the PIN codes to all my family cards… Someone hacked our bank accounts and found something. The found out we had a family bank account, EUR12,000, and demanded I give the money to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) because I had donated to the Ukrainian army…

Then someone printed out that sign, that I’m a fascist and I’m killing children. They put this sign on me, wrapped me in a[n Ukrainian] flag, added other Ukrainian accessories and drove me out to a square, a major intersection in Donetsk. I wasn’t tied to that post – I was merely using it for support. They kept yelling at me, “Sieg Heil! Stand to attention!” I was not allowed to bend my knees or move – I was forced to stand on my tiptoes, pressed against that post. Cars drove by… There are hundreds of Ossetian mercenaries in Donetsk. They stopped, they asked questions, they laughed, they took pictures with me in the background. Someone put up a show, saying: “Disperse – I’m going to shoot through her kneecap now.” I started shrieking, jumping up – they laughed. He shot but missed. Did you see the woman in a photograph kicking me in the belly?

(Interviewer) Yes, she has been identified.

She was hardly the only one. There was an older woman – she beat me with her walking stick – beat me on the head, on the back, on the shoulders. I’m covered in bruises. Apart from the fact that they beat me with rifle butts on the legs, there was that older woman hitting me with her walking cane. And how many young women hit me on the face, on the head, on the ears – one photograph cannot tell it all. But the people who hit me were not as frightening as those who merely walked up. Cars would stop and well-dressed young guys would get out. One would take a picture with me in the back, then pass the camera or phone to another one, who’d take another shot. Young girls did the same. No one defended me, not one person. They kept telling me that I’m a fascist, a dirty creature, that I direct artillery fire [for the Ukrainian army], that I’m killing children. I shouted that I have two kids and an a granddaughter, that I’ve never killed anybody. My eyesight is “three plus”, I must wear glasses. It’s just so absurd – I don’t want to repeat all that. Then there was a woman who took such effort – she opened the trunk of her car and took out some tomatoes and started throwing at me first. Then she smeared two tomatoes against my face, flooding my eyes with the juice. Then I saw through that juice what I thought were gentlemanly [intelligentnye] faces – first a bearded man with a professional camera: I realized I was being photographed by the press. Then there was a taller man – he also took pictures of me. I started hoping: people with these gentle faces – perhaps they would intervene. [They did.] I had been saying goodbye to life all that day, begging all the time: please kill me. Don’t tortment me, just kill me. If you think I deserve it, just shoot me. They replied: “Bitch, you won’t get off that easy.”

She was taken back to the barracks, or rather headquarters, of Battalion East.

They brought me back from the square to the ground floor of the building and locked me up in a small room. They kept tormenting me, spraying gas from a can at me. The Ossetian who took to hating me for some reason came twice. He had a sophisticated method: he ran towards me and kicked me with his foot in the chest. I was hurled across the cell, my back hit the opposite wall and I could not breathe for a long time. They liked that very much – they enjoyed themselves. Then there were breaks because other people were brought in and also beaten. They screamed and were taken away. I saw nothing: I was crouching in a corner, suffering from convulsions.

She mentions a man accused of pedophilia being brutally tortured.

They detained me at 9am; at 10am, the Ossetians seized me. When I was taken up on the third floor again to the Vostok people – let’s say they were normal, Ukrainian people [as opposed to the Ossetians] – it was already dark. I was all bruised, all covered in spit because the women had not only beaten me but had spat me in the face many times. They let me wash a little. Then I lost consciousness. I spent all night hanging under that radiator [handcuffed to a heating radiator, the way Russian thugs treat their victims] – it was a horrible night…

One of them said: “Your house will be occupied by people who support us, whose houses were damaged by shelling”… I recalled that phrase and realized that I would never live in my own house again. This lasted for three or four days. I lost count. I refused to eat… They threatened me, they said they would find a probe and tear my esophagus…

Her house was vandalized and all the valuables were stolen. She lost all her savings. But at least she and her family are safe now.


  1. What I wonder, genuinely, is what do those ethnic Russians who are supporting the separatists imagine life will be like for them in a separated enclave? Do they honestly think that being ruled by utter thugs, armed to the teeth and accountable to nobody (anyone still remember MH17?), who dish out arbitrary punishments to anyone suspected of being against them, will be an improvement over remaining part of Ukraine?

    I know the thugs will enjoy themselves and can see why they’re doing it. But what about the rest? It’s as if the Scottish are voting for independence from London in favour of being ruled by Glasgow Celtic football hooligans. Are they hoping these Ossetian mercenaries will just pack up and leave? I’m beginning to wonder if the Ukrainians should just hand over the whole region, offer to resettle anyone who wishes to leave, and be done with the whole sorry mess.

    • This conflict is not about ethnic Russians vs ethnic Ukrainians, especially because the line between the two groups is so blurred and everyone speaks Russian or surzhik in the south and east of Ukraine. Dnepropetrovsk is as Russian-speaking as Donetsk but it’s #1 on the list of oblasts by the number of soldiers killed by separatists. It must be something else. Perhaps football hooligans make up a critically large share of the population there.

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