Ukraine’s SBU interrogates PMC Wagner members, digs more proof of war crimes

18 October 2022, 08:16 PM
Criminals took part in kidnapping and torture of Ukrainians (Photo:SBU)

Criminals took part in kidnapping and torture of Ukrainians (Photo:SBU)

Ukrainian law enforcers say they have collected more evidence from members of Russia's private military company (PMC) Wagner Group who were captured in Kharkiv Oblast last week, the press office of Ukraine’s SBU security service said on Telegram on Oct. 17.

During an interrogation conducted by the SBU, the detainees provided enough evidence of their war crimes and atrocities committed in the oblast, when it was temporarily occupied by Russian troops.

In particular, they carried out so-called "purges" of locals and "hunted down" Donbas war veterans in Kharkiv Oblast’s Izyum district.

Video of day

Kidnapped men were placed in a three-meter-deep pit and were held there without food and water. They were also brutally tortured, the SBU said.

"The occupation troops interrogated and tried to extract information about other pro-Ukrainian citizens by torture,” the agency said.

“All these and other facts allowed us to inform them of charges brought under Part 2 of Art. 28 and Part 1 of Art. 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the laws and customs of war).”

On Oct. 18, the SBU shared a video of an interrogation of a PMC Wagner member who claims he was recruited from among Russian prisoners.

He said he had been contracted by PMC Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin for the war in Ukraine. The latter guaranteed that "the (former) prisoners will fight side by side with ‘experienced’ mercenaries who will teach them everything, and they will not be sent to the frontline.”

Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef” for his role in organizing catering companies for the Kremlin, allegedly promised the contracted prisoners that they would be able to “wash away their sins with the blood of Ukrainians,”after which they would receive "clean" documents.

However, the detainee had spent only two days on the frontline before he was captured by Ukrainian troops.

"We are being used as cannon fodder,” the former mercenary explained.

“Our commander sent us forward, at first we were walking together, and then I looked back – they were very far away. Simply as cannon fodder – just to find out where there are some positions, who is stationed where... We are like cannon fodder... When we were recruited, we were told a completely different story.”

Late in March 2022, British military intelligence warned that Russia’s PMC Wagner Group had deployed to eastern Ukraine. They were expected to deploy more than 1,000 mercenaries, including senior leaders of the organization, to undertake combat operations.

“Due to heavy losses and a largely stalled invasion, Russia has highly likely been forced to reprioritize Wagner personnel for Ukraine at the expense of operations in Africa and Syria,” the British Ministry of Defence said in a report.

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