Ukrainian woman captured and tortured by Russian proxy forces ‘in critical condition’

20 December 2021, 01:33 PM

Olena Pekh, a Ukrainian woman who has been held captive by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine for over three years, is now in a critical condition, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Human Rights Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova stated on Facebook on Dec. 20.

According to Denisova, Pekh is being held in Snezhnyanska Correctional Facility No. 127, located in a non-government-controlled part of Donetsk Oblast.

Pekh has been tortured by her captors, Denisova said.

She said Pekh was detained by Russian proxy forces in the city Horlivka, which has been beyond Ukrainian government control since April 2014.

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“For three months she has been held in a military guardhouse in Donetsk, where she was electrocuted, choked with a plastic bag; she had screws drilled into her knees and was forced to undergo a simulated execution – all in order to get her to confess to treason,” the ombudsperson said.

Pekh was illegally sentenced to 13 years in prison for “high treason” in March 2020.

“As the result of inhumane torture, Pekh suffers from acute knee and hip arthrosis, varicose veins of the legs, and chronic thrombophlebitis that could lead to ulcers and gangrene. She needs a cane to walk and is afflicted with severe epilepsy, in addition to hypertension, severe angina and poor eyesight,” Denisova added.

Denisova stressed that Pekh urgently needs to be hospitalized to undergo surgery and be examined by a neurologist and a vascular surgeon.

Prior to her arrest, Pekh was a research fellow at the Horlivka Art Museum, taught German and Russian languages at school, organized school trips, and participated in academic life.

In August 2014, she fled the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, moving to Odesa to work as a translator. Later, she returned to the non-government-controlled city of Debaltseve in order to care for her sick mother.

The ombudsperson appealed to the International Red Cross, asking the organization’s leadership to visit the captive Pekh and ensure she is taken to hospital.

Pekh’s daughter was among a group of citizens who appealed to President Volodymyr Zelensky in April 2020 asking for their relatives, who are held captive by Russian proxy forces in Donetsk Oblast, to be included in prisoner exchanges.

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