The second round of the prisoner exchange between Kiev and Donbass is scheduled for February. The exact date and lists may be confirmed at the Minsk meeting that will take place in the end of this month. The first exchange under the “all for all” formula took place on December 27. Then, Kiev released two hundred persons, and Donbass handed over about 70 persons. People released from Ukrainian prisons told about detention conditions.
Vitaly Nesvitskiy doesn’t even know how he managed to survive at war and in capture. He joined People’s militia in the very first days of the conflict. He defended Slavyansk, and he was captured outside Donetsk after being wounded. A shot of a Ukrainian sniper broke his leg. Vitaly Nesvitskiy, former prisoner of war: “I thank God that I survived. One of them shouted: “You are Russian, get out of our land! What are you doing here? This is our land!” I told him in Ukrainian that I was born in Donbass in 1966. So, this is my land, not his.”
Ukrainian military doctors operated on him right on the battlefield, but his bones healed improperly. Now Donetsk surgeons have to put him on his feet, as well as more than a thousand of other servicemen, who are still undergoing treatment after Ukrainian capture.
Elena Agarkova, Head of the First Neurological Department of the Republican Occupational Health Clinic: “10 open forms of pulmonary tuberculosis have been identified, as well as oncology diseases, neglected hypertension, consequences of endured cerebral stroke. The aforesaid demonstrates that medical assistance was inadequate for these people in prisons, if there was any at all”.
According to NTV correspondent Eugene Golovanov, all former detainees told that detention conditions were inhuman. They were tortured, beaten with rifles, shocked and even drowned during interrogation.
Alexander Kucherenko, former captive: “They put a mop on my face and poured water. The same as Americans do in movies. They also beat my wife. She’s 60 years old. They hit her with rifles. Her legs were severely injured, they became blue. She has diabetes. They robbed the house, they took everything, even underwear for women. And they are called the liberators. They liberate Donbass residents from their possessions”.
Ukrainian citizens will never see testimony by former captives. Domestic television shows videos where one of DPR soldiers is held in a sterile room with high-grade medical equipment and attentive medical staff who are trying to save the life of a severely wounded soldier.
Ukrainian audience will never know that in their country people are put behind bars under false charges, irrelevant to DPR military. Ivan Mikhailovich was arrested only because he was registered as a private entrepreneur in the DPR.
These captives were convicted of serious crimes, such as terrorism and aiding terrorists. People were held together with criminals in cramped cells 15-20 persons in each.
Daria Morozova, the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman: “All Ukrainian captives were held in separate buildings. They never had contact with other criminals. We didn’t want to do harm to their psyche. We fully met our commitments. Now we demand the same from the Ukrainian side.”
Detainees received inadequate food. Prison porridge was often made of expired and rotten products.
Eugene Gavrilov, former prisoner: “Sometimes there were mouse droppings in bread. We also found cockroaches and snails in porridge. How did they get into the food?”
People who endured Ukrainian capture need both medical and psychological care. All these years spent in capture had harmful effects. The process of treatment and rehabilitation may spread over several months.
Tens of DPR servicemen and supporters of Novorossia are still in Ukrainian capture. Currently, the second stage of the exchange is being discussed. Medical workers of the Donetsk People’s Republic are also preparing for that. Experience has shown that their assistance will be needed this time as well.