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Stripped, beaten and starved: Released Ukrainian prisoner of war reveals torment by Russians

His photo was taken when Mikhailo Dinov, a Ukrainian marine, was released from Russian custody.

After being held prisoner of war for four months, his body was finally freed.

He was not recognisable in photos of the fighter in Mariupol, Ukraine . His frail frame was evident in his clothes. His 42-year-old face looked much older than it actually was.

I had so many questions. Importantly, did you worry that you wouldn’t make it?


Mikhailo says, “We thought about it every day.” These thoughts were first triggered by the Azovstal steel factory.

“At Azovstal, we believed it was the end.”

Ukraine pushes Russian troops out of critical city – live updates

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Mikhailo was captured following weeks of siege in Mariupol, defending the steelworks. It was the final corner to fall in May.

He was one of 215 prisoners who were recently released by Russia and spoke exclusively to Sky News about captivity.

“Believe it me, after a month of starvation, you lose all sense of your family, your country, and everything else.” Food is all you can think about.

Image Before & after four months spent as a prisoner of war (POW) Mikhailo Dinov was emaciated, disfigured

They treated us like animals

Mikhailo lost more than 6 stone (40kg) during his four-month stint as a prisoner.

It was impossible to eat. Mikhailo says that you were only allowed 30 seconds to eat each meal. Mikhailo says that you were required to eat all the food in 30 seconds.

“Bread was intentionally very difficult. Men who had their teeth pulled couldn’t eat at the right time.

It took 30 seconds before you could stop. You had to immediately get up and run. It was this way all the time.

“They treated us as animals.”

The food is disgusting and the eating process is humiliating.

All of this took place at the Olenivka prison, Russian-controlled Donetsk — Mikhailo calls it a concentration camp.

Evidently, prisoners of war are being starved in order to be held there.

Continue reading:

Mariupol’s fall

Image of Ukrainian prisoners taken at Azovstal

Prisoners were beaten with sticks and given electric shocks

He described how they would be put in isolation and tortured for picking up a fruit from the ground and eating them.

He claims that they were beat with sticks and given electric shocks, as well as having needles placed under their nails.

Connotations of concentration camps are also present in the prison’s layout.

Satellite images from the sky show identical blocks in a row that house prisoners.

Mikahilo claims the blocks were designed for 150 people but he was forced to share one with 800 prisoners.

His legs were weak and walking was difficult because of the cramped conditions. He doesn’t have to walk too far and will soon find a place to rest on the bench.

We are unable to confirm what is going on in Olenivka prison because we lack access to Russian-controlled areas.

We spoke to the Azovstal fighter’s partner, who was also released in the prisoner swap. She describes similar conditions, and refers to the camp as a concentration camp.

Mikhailo’s health is another important factor. It speaks for itself.

We do know that Olenivka prison was attacked in July, killing more than 50 people. Mikhailo answers my questions about the attack.

Image A steel plant was nearly completely destroyed

He was at another location, receiving treatment for his arm. He described a dangerous operation that he performed with only a pair of scissors and no anaesthesia.

A photo taken at Azovstal before Mikhailo was taken prisoner shows Mikhailo wearing a bandage to his right arm. The lack of medical attention caused the bone to heal in a semicircle during his captivity.

This was the moment he was freed.

“We were completely stripped naked. They removed all of our medical equipment, including all our medical casts. They searched us. Then, we were asked to sit down for five hours. Of course, without a bench.

“We just waited. Mikhailo says, “We didn’t know what was coming to us.”

His nose has a large graze. I want to know what has happened.

He replies, “Duct tape.” They wrapped tape around my head, and then pushed their legs into me stomach. I was left with a tape wrap and an empty stomach for the next day.

Image Friends and relatives of Azovstal steelworks defenders campaigned for their release

“A lot of things lost their value”

He traveled for 36 hours without knowing where he was, with his eyes closed. He moved from one bus to another by bus and then back to the bus.

He realized he was back in Ukraine only when the tape was finally taken off.

Before he can have corrective surgical surgery on his arm, he must gain 20 kg.

It will likely take longer to treat the psychological effects.

He said, “Everyone is traumatized,” and I agreed. “I consider myself to have mental strength, but a lot has lost their value for me.”

He paints a picture of Russian detention that is much worse than most people imagine.

Many of these conditions are in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Thousands more Ukrainian prisoners-of-war are believed to be still in Olenivka prison.

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