We have got a Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) document indicating that the prison existed at least until the end of 2018. Moreover, there was an active “trade” involving prisoners – relatives could pay two or three thousand dollars for freedom of the unlucky prisoner.
A CASE OF “RENO”
In addition to the testimony of ex-Lieutenant Colonel of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasily Prozorov, there is other evidence of the existence of a secret prison in the airport of Mariupol, as well as evidence of attempts by the Security Service of Ukraine to conceal this fact – for example, a document from the Security Service of Ukraine that accidentally fell into the hands of the DPR. It follows that the prison still existed in the airport in October-November 2018.
Photo: Lieutenant Colonel of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Vasily Prozorov at a press conference in the International Multimedia Press Center IIA Rossiya Segodnya
At the beginning of this year an officer of the Mariupol military registration and enlistment office, deputy head of the security office of the Donetsk regional military commissariat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yury Aushev sided with the DPR. He became disillusioned with the service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, resigned and returned to his hometown – Donetsk.
In the military registration and enlistment office of Mariupol, Aushev was responsible for internal security, so he installed a special program on the computers of the military registration and enlistment office recording all operations performed.
Photo: Yury Aushev
At first, he did it as a part of everyday responsibilities, and then, when he decided to return to Donetsk from Mariupol, Aushev expected that he would be much more welcomed in the DPR with such information.
As a result, several thousand documents were at the disposal of the DPR.
Aushev, at the place of his service in the military registration and enlistment office, was supervised by an officer of the Security Service of Ukraine – a senior security officer for particularly important cases of the 3rd division of the 5th office of the military counterintelligence Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Stetsenko. In violation of his duty regulations, he would come to the military registration and enlistment office and work there, ignoring secrecy requirements.
Photo: Senior Security Officer of the Military Counterintelligence Security Service of the SBU, Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Stetsenko, supervisor of Reno
Thus, Stetsenko’s documents that were not related to the military registration and enlistment office fell into Aushev’s hands, including a report on communication with “agent Reno”: this is a Ukrainian serviceman, who used to inform Stetsenko about attitudes in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Photo: Report of Lieutenant Colonel of the Security Service of Ukraine Stetsenko to his management about the meeting with agent Reno
A local resident Lyudmila Momot asked Reno to find out the fate of her son Igor (born in 1990), who disappeared on October 3, 2018.
Lyudmila told Reno that a week after Igor’s disappearance, an unknown person called her and said that her son was in the airport, but he could still be released for three thousand dollars.
The pensioner did not have the money, so she asked Reno for help, since he is “a high-ranking military officer”.
Stetsenko promised Reno to look into the situation and ordered: “In order to prevent information leaks about the place of detention of prisoners in the detention centre in the said institution, Reno should be directed to inform L. Momot about the non-existence of prisons in the airport”.
AGENT- TAXI DRIVER
Yes, they offered to buy a person out from this hell on earth called “Mariupol Airport”. Most likely, it operated for some random people who were taken to the airport for wearing a St. George ribbon or a suspicious photo they had in their mobile phone. As for DPR representatives, they were subjected to torture, criminal cases were opened against them — there was no opportunity to pay two or three thousand dollars.
A resident of Mariupol, a veteran of Afghanistan war Pavel Karakosov worked as a taxi driver and transferred intelligence information from Mariupol to the DPR in the summer of 2014. In July, he came to the airport to pick up a man bought out from captivity.
“There were dark rumours in the city. People used to say phrases like: “Let’s not discuss it via mobile phone —you don’t want to get to the airport, do you?” Karakos recalls.
Photo: Former prisoner of Mariupol airport Pavel Karakos
In his presence, a client spoke to someone agreeing that his relative should be released from the airport, seemingly not involved in anything serious. The negotiations went through the mediation of an official of the Mayor’s Office of Mariupol, and the ransom was transferred before the trip.
Karakosov remembered that day very well: “A relative and the one who negotiated were in the car. He called someone and said what car they should allow in. The detainee was taken out of the airport building, brought to the car. About 35-40 years old. Beaten badly. As far as I understood, he spent three days there. He could not say anything and did not want to.
Photo: Verification of documents by the Ukrainian military, near the city of Mariupol
Another customer, a local taxi driver, was more talkative. He said that he had recently travelled to Zaporozhie to obtain a new passport. On the way back at one of the checkpoints his document was considered suspicions – allegedly, a fake issued for a Russian saboteur. The pensioner was taken to the airport and beaten for a couple of days; he was demanded to confess. The man had nothing to confess, and when the executioners were convinced of this, he was released. “They took away two thousand dollars, which he had with him, but he was still happy — they let him go alive!” Karakos recalls. And soon he himself became a prisoner of the airport.
KARAKOSOV WAS FOUND THROUGH CELLULAR CONNECTION
Unlike his clients, Karakos was not an accidental victim of the “Azovs” and the SBU: being an active supporter of the DPR, one of the organizers of the referendum on May 11, he had long come into the view of the Ukrainian security forces.
“Azov” detained him on August 11 in the territory of one of automobile companies, where Karakos stopped to repair a car. He believes that he was tracked through cell towers: a special technology allows to calculate the location of the subscriber with an accuracy of 20-30 meters. This coincides with the stories of Vasily Prozorov that the SBU received a huge amount of data through listening to cellular communications.
Video: In the autumn of 2018, a prison in the Mariupol airport still existed
Pavel Karakosov confirmed the stories of SBU Lieutenant Colonel Prozorov
Karakosov spent seven days in prison in the airport – in those refrigerating chambers mentioned by Prozorov.
“They brought me to the airport (after the arrest. – Ed.), threw at the entrance and shouted: “Tse Separ”. They started beating me – 15 persons. When they were satisfied, they took me down to the basement. They threw me into a refrigerating chamber. It was about three by five meters, without air access, tightly closed. Thank God, it was not turned on, there was no cold. It was covered with aluminum sheets. There was a prisoner, badly beaten. He could not talk, his face was hardly briused from beatings. His eyes were not visible due to the swollen eyelids,”- Karakosov describes his first day experience in the prison.
Then he came through the entire range of torture used by security forces.
Photo: the corridor of the prison in the Mariupol airport
“They used methods similar to those used by Americans in Guantanamo. They put person face-up in the form of a star with a cloth on his head and poured water. The feeling was like I was drowned. The person inhales drops of water, which is perceived by the brain as drowning. I had a micro-stroke during the torture … As if millions of needles were stuck into my head,” he describes.
Another torture is called “scissors”. There are two parallel rails. “They put person’s palms on the rail, then drop the second rail from a height, crushing the fingers,” Karakos continues.
“Or putting needles under the feet fingernails. It makes you feel as if your veins were pulled out of the neck through the whole body. Yes, I they did it to me, I experienced it myself. Cutting legs and other limbs with an angle grinder is a common practice,” he argues. He showed a scar on his leg made by a chainsaw – the leg wasn’t cut off, they only scared him.
Video: Pavel Karakosov spoke about torture in the airport of Mariupol
The “Azov” battalion members demanded from Karakos to tell the names and contacts of other Mariupol residents involved in the organization of the referendum and associated with the DPR. All the data, so cruelly knocked out of the prisoners, was communicated to the SBU. In fact, “Azov” did the dirty work for them.
“Still, the SBU acted in the legal framework. The “Azov” battalion is kind of a tool for the SBU, so that they could do absolutely anything. And the SBU can always say – it’s not us. This is the “Azov” battalion, and they are not under our supervision,” he said.
Photo: New recruits of “Azov” battalion
Karakosov also believes that there are clandestine burials of prisoners who died or were killed during torture in the airport: “Those who died from torture in the airport were found on the streets of Mariupol just as unidentified bodies. They were thrown out of a car somewhere on the road. A lot of people disappeared in the city. There was a smell of death. Yes, the smell of corpses. I suppose that somewhere near the airport building one could find mass graves”.
Video: Pavel Karakosov told about the graves of people killed in the airport
After a week of torture, Karakosov was transferred to the Mariupol SBU – they formally issued a detention report, and the prisoner was transferred to the Kamensky detention centre in the suburb of Mariupol. The man’s health state was so bad that he was initially refused to be accepted, due to the fears that he would die.
“The doctor asked, “What are you complaining about?” I just lifted my shirt up,” he recalls. In December 2014, Karakosov was exchanged.
OMBUDSMAN: PRISON AND BURIALS MAY STILL EXIST
The DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Daria Morozova, engaged in the exchange of prisoners, also believes that the prison in the Mariupol airport still operates.
“We receive such allegations (about the airport – Ed.) even from those who were detained in 2018-2019. In Mariupol, torture was used, people were beaten very severely, tortured, strangled. All the most terrifying methods of influencing the psyche and physical condition were used particularly in Mariupol,” said Morozova to RIA Novosti.
She believes that there may be clandestine burials of the remains of such prisoners.
“I don’t want to seem to exaggerate, but as a person who has been engaged into it since 2014, I know how many videos were there on Youtube and Ukrainian TV channels showing the apprehension of people – and we don’t know where these guys are now… For five years, we just cannot find many of them. Accordingly, there is every reason to believe that they were delivered to such places,” she noted.
According to Morozova, “the DPR is looking for 249 persons, about whom there was particular information that they were detained in the territory of Ukraine.”
Photo: Prison building in the airport in Mariupol
“Out of 249 persons we have official confirmation of the Ukrainian side for 101 people,” she specified. The fate of the rest is unknown.
“I do not rule out the possibility that there are and there will be mass graves near such places of detention,” Morozova emphasized.
NOT ONLY AIRPORT
“I’m sure that this place is not alone. Very soon we will find out about several more such places in the city of Mariupol. For example, last year a young woman was detained. SBU took her to the village of Berdyansk. About a month no one could find her. Then it turned out that there was an illegal place of detention under the SBU patronage. She was beaten and tortured for a month. This was a young woman. They used everything they could against her. And they starved her,” says Morozova.
According to her, there are many abandoned recreation centres in the villages near the Azov Sea. “They all were there – “Azov”, “Aydar”, “Tornado”, “Donbass”. And in 2014-2015, each of them had their own secret prisons, where they tortured people.”
After Vasily Prozorov’s speech, the DPR Ombudsman appealed to the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission with a request to verify the information presented. She also calls ex-prisoners to file a complaint with these international organizations so that their testimony would be documented.