There is another former officer of the SBU from Mariupol, whose testimony about a secret prison had not been published before. According to him, “Azov” was used by the special services to pressure the suspects – after the “library” detainees needed a serious medical treatment, and they asked to transfer them to the SIZO rather than come back to the airport. Former “books” told RIA Novosti about torture in the airport – the militiamen were tortured with electric shock and thrown into pits with corpses. Ukrainian politicians Lyashko and Mosiychuk were among those who interrogated and tortured people.
SBU EX-OFFICER: “AZOV” WAS INVITED “TO WORK” WITH PRISONERS
We met with a former employee of the Security Service of Ukraine (fearing revenge, he did not mention his rank, name, and even forbade to record his voice on a tape recorder) in Moscow. In Mariupol, he served for more than two years, retired in early 2017. He went to Odessa, then to Russia. “He was involved in the operational process,” the former SBU officer didn’t go into the details of his career. – The word “library” on 77 Georgievskaia Street (City Department of SBU – Ed.) and on 33 Architect Nielsen Street (Directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine in Donetsk Region – Ed.) was used to say that someone had been detained. The “library” does not mean one specific place. That was both the name for the airport and for the “Azov” base on the Left Bank – Ordzhonikidze District of Mariupol, in the school building. There was also a detached house on the way out of Mariupol to Volodarsky (Nikolsky) District, where “Azov” also based. I don’t know from where exactly the detainees were brought. They said: “From the library.”
According to him, a prison was opened in the airport as soon as “Azov” occupied Mariupol. There was also a headquarters of the sector “M”, the command of the “affiliated forces”, that is, the volunteer battalions attached to the military and the SBU, was located there.
“Azov” was only used to carry out “specific” tasks, for example, to work with detainees … Everyone suspected of having links with the DPR in Mariupol, Pershotravnevoe, Volodarsky and Novoazovsky regions passed through the prison. By my count, there were at least 120 persons involved,” the SBU ex-officer said.
According to his testimony, “after being in the “library” and before transferring to SIZO, the detainees were treated for several days in the emergency hospital and other hospitals in Mariupol”. The detainees were only interrogated by the SBU when they looked more-or-less normal.” They asked to transfer them to the remand prison rather than return to the airport,” the source said. He knows little about their fate.
LYASHKO AND MOSIYCHUK INTERROGATED PERSONALLY
A thirty-three-year-old Mariupol resident Kirill Filichkin was among the first to be caught prisoner in the airport – he was detained on May 7, 2014, when the “Azov” battalion and anti-terrorist operation forces were occupying the city.
He was interrogated by notorious Ukrainian politicians Oleg Lyashko and Igor Mosiychuk (now a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, and one of the founders of the Azov battalion and its deputy commander). The interrogation video was leaked on YouTube and in the autumn of 2014 served as a proof of Filichkin’s guilt when he was tried for involvement in the capture of five Ukrainian soldiers whom Filichkin invited to join the DPR militia. Witnesses identified him on the video recordings with Lyashko and Mosiychuk, and this was even reflected in one of the court judgments.
There is a little inconsistency, however. The videos were shot on May 7, and Filichkin was officially detained only on August 17, 2014. All these months he spent in various secret prisons.
Kirill, however, only spent a few hours in the Mariupol airport. He was brought there immediately after being arrested.
“When I regained consciousness, I realized that I was in the Mariupol airport. Oleg Lyashko stood in front of me … Igor Mosiychuk was in charge of those people in black uniform,” Filichkin told RIA Novosti.
Lyashko and Mosiychuk acted for the camera in front of the prisoner “separatist” – Lyashko’s passion for publicity stunts has long been the object of jokes for Ukrainian humorists, and the future president Vladimir Zelensky once played the role of this scandalous politician.
THE TORTURERS SAID THEY WERE JUST BORED
After filming the video, Filichkin was handed over to soldiers of the Right Sector*. Apparently, the “library” secret prison was not yet created in the airport at that time. Filichkin was subjected to cruel torture and beatings.
“They put fingers on the stock and beat them with another (stoke – Ed.). They cut a tendon of my hand with a bayonet, “so that I would not be able to push the trigger.” Still, I cannot bend my finger. Mosiychuk personally stuck a bayonet into his leg,” the young man recalls, showing the scars on his hands.
Video: Kirill Filichkin told about people participating in the torture
The beatings continued even later, when Filichkin was taken to Kiev, even on the way there. “To prevent me from sleeping, they would beat me in the neck with stokes and stabbed with a bayonet. I asked them: “Why are you doing this?” They replied: “We are just bored.”
Who were the torturers of a DPR serviceman?
“There were youngsters of 19 years old, ultras, football hooligans. For them, fighting and killing people is just for fun. Girls who were regarded as medical staff participated in the torture,” Filichkin explained to RIA Novosti.
In the ranks of the “Azov” and “Right Sector”* battalions there were recently amnestied criminals: the new Kiev authorities urgently needed people to join the ranks of the “volunteer battalions”, and the prisoners apparently did not care which side they would take – they just wanted to rob and torture.
“They boasted that just a month (ago. – Ed.) they all were in prison, and then they were told that they could do the same thing as they used to do before, but in Donbass: “Even if we kill you, we will not be punished.” Many showed IDs of the Interior Ministry officers … “I already have two cars,” they boasted. That is how Filichkin described the communication with his torturers.
He was brought to Kiev in such a poor condition that the temporary detention centre refused to accept the prisoner fearing that he would die in a cell and the responsibility would fall on the prison staff. “My ribs and my leg were broken,” Filichkin said.
“IN MARIUPOL, FROM SIX TO EIGHT PEOPLE WENT MISSING EVERY DAY”
But he still got off lightly: Kirill knows that in the Mariupol airport there was a burial site for those who were killed in the “library”, who could not survive after the torture or were shot by the wardens.
“They dug a pit, threw corpses into it. When the pit was full, they poured concrete there and covered it with soil,” Filichkin retells what he heard from his eyewitness friends, including those who were forced to carry the dead bodies.
In particular, eyewitnesses claim that there is such a burial site right next to the takeoff runway. But it is difficult to say how many victims are buried there.
“In 2014, in the midst of the conflict, from six to eight people went missing in Mariupol every day. Some of them returned. Nobody knows anything about the rest. People (in captivity – Ed.) took out the instep supports and cut their veins, because many people could not endure it,” Filichkin added.
In Mariupol, “Azov” battalion members would stop buses with workers and pulled out anyone that seemed suspicious.
One day, international organizations will find these burial sites, find the names of the dead and punish those involved in war crimes, Filichkin hopes.
As for himself, he spent a total of 3.5 years in prison. On June 8, 2015, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and on December 27, 2017, he was released as part of the exchange.
After his release, in Donetsk, doctors recorded his scars and traces of torture. “On Filichkin’s body, multiple scars were found on the head, hands, and right thigh areas, which are the result of healing of contused wounds resulting from the use of blunt objects. There are also scars, which are the result of healing of wounds made with the use of pointed or bladed objects,” the medical report says.
“I FELL ON SOMETHING SOFT, TOUCHED IT – THERE WERE HUMAN BODIES”
RIA Novosti found another prisoner of the Mariupol “library”, who saw graves in the airport with his own eyes. He even lay in those graves – the wardens had fun this way, or used it as a psychological torture.
This is Mikhail Shubin, born in 1965, a former resident of Mariupol. Once he served in the Soviet Airborne Forces and even fought in Afghanistan.
Photo: Mikhail Shubin
In 2001, he moved from Russia to Mariupol – his wife’s hometown, obtained a Ukrainian citizenship. Apparently, the militants of “Azov” suspected him of having links with the security forces of Russia or even of espionage. That is why Shubin experienced the most severe torture in the airport, which lasted two weeks. “Azov” members demanded information about the “curators, contacts and tasks”, but there was nothing Shubin could tell, except for buying guns and bullets at the Mariupol market — he really sympathized with the DPR.
But even in the early summer of 2014, Shubin was summoned to the Mariupol military registration and enlistment office and offered to join “Azov” as an instructor himself — then, untrained volunteers joined the battalion, and they needed experience such as Shubin had. Due to his Soviet background and Russian origin, Shubin, of course, did not consider the “Azov” battalion to be a good fit for him. He refused to cooperate and, perhaps, already at that time aroused suspicions of the SBU and the “Right sector.”*
In August 2014, he fell into the hands of “Azov”, but his arrest was officially registered only three weeks later – on September 9.
“I know there are five burials – under the takeoff runway for light aircraft. I spent 24 hours in one of those pits full of dead bodies. This is a type of torture with impact on psyche” Shubin told RIA Novosti.
Video: Mikhail Shubin told how he was sitting in a pit with dead bodies
He describes the pit with corpses as follows.
“It was quite small, three or four (square meters – Ed.). I went there (under guard – Ed.), and I had a bag on my head. The ground had dropped out from under me and I fell down. I landed on something strange, soft, squelchy. I touched it with my hands – there were human limbs, bodies. Women and men were lying there. Somebody had their stomach ripped open, the throat cut, the neck broken – there were various injuries. Six to seven people,” Shubin recalls.
“PAINFULLY? THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT WORD. ”
This wasn’t the only torture he suffered from. He was “interrogated” very often – the torturers were not so much interested in the information as they had pleasure torturing the “separatist”. Often the beatings were before interrogation in order to make the detainee more eager to speak – SBU investigator Romanenko, who conducted his case, watched him being tortured.
Video: Mikhail Shubin told about the horrible tortures he experienced
“I was beaten, then I hear Romanenko’s voice: “Enough, bring him in here,” Shubin recalls.
The worst kind of torture was with the use of electric current.
“They bring a person inside a room, force to undress. Then they knock the person down, and the floor is already wet. They attach a pin of the welding machine to the penis and poke the second end of the wire at the heel. The feeling is awful, I would even call it deadly. The person’s body rises literally as an arc,” Shubin detailed.
Another option, which is lighter, is a torture with an electric shock device.
“Once, the battery on this shocker even died. He poked and poked, then threw it,” he added.
Video: Olga Seletskaya recognized airport wardens and prisoners
“They called each other the Butcher and the Doctor. They are real beasts. You know, I met Russians there too – particularly in the airport. They came on purpose,” says Shubin.
He also remembers the refrigerating chambers well, which became infamous after the briefing by the SBU ex-lieutenant colonel Prozorov.
“There were two refrigerators, where people were kept, and one with food. There were six of us in the refrigerator. Women were kept somewhere separately.”
Shubin believes, those threats were real: “There were instances. Guys then found dead bodies and limbs in the forest.”
But he was lucky – he was admitted in the pretrial detention facility. “I was able to have enough sleep there for the first time in a while,” he laughs.
At the end of 2014, he was released to the DPR as part of the exchange of prisoners. His treatment in Donetsk hospitals took three months.
*Organization banned in the Russian Federation.