The conditions in Ukraine’s prisoner of war camps – NV report

28 January, 04:17 PM
The captured Russian sanitary instructor is a contractor of the Russian army (Photo:NV)

The captured Russian sanitary instructor is a contractor of the Russian army (Photo:NV)

NV has visited one of the camps where Ukraine holds prisoners of war — soldiers of the Russian army, fighters from LNR/DNR quasi-formations and mercenaries of the notorious Wagner mercenary company. In this story, we’ll you what their everyday life looks like, and the conditions of their detention.

Representatives of international human rights organizations regularly visit the camp — in contrast to the situation with Ukrainian POWs in Russian camps, whom neither representatives of International Committee of the Red Cross nor other organizations are allowed to see.

In observance of the requirements of international conventions, the Russian prisoners are housed separately from the Ukrainian prisoners who are also held at this facility.

Video of day

Russian POWs are provided with the ability to work at the camp (for example, they make wicker furniture). With the money earned, they can buy themselves an additional phone call or spend it at their own discretion at the local commissary.

Prisoners cook for themselves, and three meals a day are provided in the camp. The menu includes porridge, fish, borscht, soups, salads, and meat.

The camp also has a “rest room” where prisoners can watch TV (Ukrainian television and Ukrainian movies).

The location of the camp is classified.

Our journalists spoke with some of the Russian POWs.

Russian military serviceman:

Photo: NV

NV:  Did you understand where you were going?

POW: Not at all.

NV: Do you want to return to Russia?

POW: Yes.

NV:  What will you do when you get back?

POW:  I’ll go to work, I have my brothers there.

NV:  What kind of work?

POW:  Professional work in Moscow.

NV:  Do you want to fight again?

POW:  No.

NV:  Why?

POW:  First, I need an operation [to treat an injury] and a long rehabilitation. Second, I don't see the point.

Wagner mercenary and former Russian convict:

Photo: NV

NV: The Russian media says that there [in Ukraine] are many mercenaries from different parts of the world fighting instead of the Ukrainian military. In general, everyone expected to see foreign mercenaries who commit all kinds of atrocities and arbitrary acts, kill civilians, etc. But there were no such mercenaries, and when I was captured, I saw that young Ukrainian boys aged 20-22,were fighting. I talked to them – they say that they all joined the army voluntarily, no one forced them there – they went to defend their country from Russian aggression. And while we were going from the front line to captivity, we talked to them.

NV: Why did you join (the Wagner Group PMC)? Did you want to get amnesty?

Merc: Not only. Mainly I had (the desire) to get amnesty, but also to help peaceful people in the future, maybe.

NV: Do you want to [be included in the prisoner] exchange?

Merc: I do, yet I’m afraid of a possible assassination. There are many videos circulating on the Internet showing how (Wagner’s) soldiers are slaying their own.

NV: If you are exchanged, will you go to war again?

Merc: My contract expires in two months, and if I am not exchanged during this time, then I will not go to war. (…) I think that Wagner is not so costly as the Russian army. Wagner are just mercenaries – they recruit them, use them, and that’s it. Yes, we knew all this when we left, that we would be used as cannon fodder. But we went anyway, taking our chances.

Merc: Why do other prisoners join the Wagner ranks?

NV: Well, mostly convicts join in order to be released from prison, rather than to liberate others.

Merc: Do you know that mercenaries, according to the Geneva Conventions, are not considered prisoners of war?

NV: I didn't know before, but I was informed of it here (in the camp).

Sanitation instructor, Russian service member:

Photo: NV

POW: I decided to personally come and see for myself what is happening here. I signed a four-month contract. I am a sanitation instructor. I was captured straight upon arrival. I signed the contract on Sept. 9, and I got blown up on a mine on Sept. 24, found myself wounded and captured. (…) I thought that (in Ukraine) (human rights) are limited, freedom is not given. But when I arrived, to be honest, I became convinced of something else – here, politics are also involved.

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