March 2, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news
Standing outside a Russian detention center in Kherson, days after the southern Ukrainian city was liberated, Ihor, 29, still shuddered as he remembered what he endured inside.
“I was kept here for 11 days and during that time I heard screams from the basement,” said Ihor, who asked CNN not to give his last name for his protection. “I was stabbed in the legs with a taser, they use it as a greeting. One of them asked what I was brought for and two more of them started hitting me in the ribs.
“People were tortured, beaten in the arms and legs with sticks, tied with cattle prods, even batteries and electrocuted or thrown into water,” he added.
Kherson was the first major city and the only regional capital Russian troops were able to capture since the beginning of the invasion. Moscow forces captured the city on March 2, 2022, and held it for several months before being forced to withdraw in early November, following a months-long offensive by Ukrainian forces.
The detention center was part of a network of at least 20 other facilities that Ukrainian and international lawyers said were part of a calculated Russian strategy to extinguish Ukrainian identity.
“These detention centers are connected, they follow a very similar behavior,” Wayne Jordash, head of the Mobile Justice Team, a group of international investigators supporting Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office, told CNN.
The investigation found that Russian forces followed a very specific blueprint in several occupied territories, with clear patterns that point to a broader plan for Moscow’s occupation of Ukraine.
“The first stage is, essentially, the detention and, in many cases, the killing of a class of people labeled as ‘leaders,’ that is, those who might physically resist the occupation, but Even those who may be culturally opposed to it,” said Jordash.
“The second stage is a kind of filtration process where the population living outside the detention centers is continuously monitored and filtered so that anyone suspected of joining the ‘leaders’ or organizing any kind of protest suspected to be involved. They were then identified and either deported to Russia or detained in detention centers and tortured.
Zordash said these methods were used not only in Kherson but also in other areas occupied by Russian forces, such as the Kiev suburbs of Bucha and Borodyanka. However, he added, the prolonged occupation of Kherson allowed the Russian forces to advance even further.
Ukrainian and international investigators also said they had uncovered financial ties linking these detention centers to the Russian state.
“Those detention centers have financial ties to the Russian state,” Jordash said, referring to documents uncovered by investigators. “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.”
CNN has not been able to independently review the documents provided by the investigation.
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