Ukrainian man claims he was beaten, tied up and shocked by an electric charge while Russia occupied his village.
Andrii Matiazh (46), claimed that it was Ukrainian police officers who had changed allegiance to him, instead of Russian soldiers.
He said that “someone tortured” him, speaking from his Volokhivka home, about four miles from the border of Russia and Ukraine.
They were in the police force prior to the invasion, but then they switched to the Russian side.”
According to Ukraine, Russian forces are accused of using torture in areas they control. More than 10 torture chambers were found in newly liberated Kharkiv Region, in the northeast.
However, Mr Matiazh’s claims highlight an additional challenge.
Authorities must not only investigate war crimes committed by Russian invaders (including torture, murder, and rape), but they also have to be on the lookout for Ukrainian collaborators.
The Ukrainian military has retaken many villages and towns right up to the Russian border in the last fortnight.
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They have not yet secured peace as the Russians are likely to shell one of the border crossings. Sky News was informed that it was too dangerous to visit.
However, we were able to spend some time with Mr Matiazh down the road in his village, which is surrounded by fields, hills, and other natural features that mark the border of Ukraine and Russia.
He lives with his wife, and their two sons (16 and 11 years respectively), and is a slim, kind man. Their 29-year-old eldest son is serving in the military as part the territorial defense force of Ukraine.
“I felt happiness and pain simultaneously”
Andrii Matiazh Jr invited us to the modest, one-story home. He was only a few short days away from his first attempt to return to Russia to hug his parents after Russia’s retreat.
They tried to describe the moment.
His mother Liubov (46), said that her son’s insides were “flipped upside down [with joy]”.
Her soldier son said that he felt both happiness and pain simultaneously. These feelings are difficult to explain. It’s too difficult to explain.”
“I was shaking for thirty minutes”
Given their village’s close proximity to Russia’s border, the parents were able to take a seat at the frontline for Russia’s invasion of full-scale on 24 February.
The mother said, “I saw helicopters and jets flying so low that they would fly between yards,”
“I was shaking for thirty minutes. My youngest child was in hysterics.”
They claimed that Russian soldiers had taken control of Vovchansk town. However, the people responsible for these villages were from Donetsk and Luhansk areas in Ukraine, which have been under Russian rule since the first invasion by Moscow in 2014.
According to the couple, Russian passports were given to residents of their village.
Liubov stated that although we didn’t accept the passports, most civilians did take them.” “I believe that they did it because of fear.”
They also claimed that Russian soldiers and their proxies would steal properties in the region.
This created a mistrustful and abusive environment that impacted the family severely just two days before Ukraine’s counteroffensive hit their area earlier in the month.
‘I had bruising’
According to the father, he was instructed to go to a nearby building that is located behind the courthouse.
He claimed that five people, all working under the Russian occupation were involved, one of whom was a distant relative.
“They took my to the second floor. He said that I had received three to four hits on my face.
“Then, they tied my hands behind mine, took off my socks and shoes, and connected a wire to my small finger and foot with a metal cable. They began to electrocute my body as soon as I lay down.
He also said that he was blindfolded.
He had marks on one leg from a different type charge at one time.
“Capillaries in both my eyes collapsed, and my eyes turned red. I had bruising. “I didn’t feel anything after they beat me in my face with the electricity,” Mr Matiazh Sr. said.
“I knew our soldiers were coming”
He claimed he was being interrogated over a local theft that had nothing to do.
The conversation continued for two hours before he was informed that he would be freed. However, he had to return in a few days with more information. This threat the father believed meant that he must become an informant or risk further torture.
He and his wife had discussed fleeing, but they didn’t have enough money.
“I chose to hide in the bushes or abandoned houses and wait for our soldiers. He said, “I knew our soldiers were coming.”
He believed that the counter-offensive which followed saved him.
His oldest son stated that all the “bad police officers” fled to Russia.
Andrii Jr. was asked how he felt hearing the father’s accounts of torture and conditions in the village during occupation. He replied: “Creepy, terrible.”
He wondered if his military connections might have been the reason his father was targeted. He noted that many of his classmates had joined police and knew he was a soldier.
He said, “I am not accusing anyone except someone…betrayed me.”