Doing the SBU’s Dirty Work: Former Prisoners Spoke About the Role of “Azov” Militants in Interrogations & Torture

The Security Service of Ukraine obtained “confessions” from detained residents of Donbass, entrusting acts of torture to the militants of neo-Nazi armed gangs. This was stated in an interview with the Donetsk News Agency by former prisoners handed over to the Donetsk People’s Republic as part of the exchange on December 29th.

“The SBU and radicals, in my opinion, are the same team, the same organised criminal group,” said a participant of the exchange, the resident of Mariupol Viktor Skripnik. “Employees of the Security Service of Ukraine are official representatives of the security forces, and in many ways, they cannot afford to do the dirty work. Radical organisations are used for this purpose, they work for the benefit of the state and political decisions. I call them gangs.”

In particular, Skripnik pointed to the group “Azov“, formed after “Maidan” mainly from among ultra-right radicals. According to the interlocutor, the militants of “Azov” readily carried out the most inhumane instructions of the SBU: after the beginning of the conflict in Donbass, they were summoned to torture many captives of the new Ukrainian authorities, including in the infamous “Library” – a secret prison in the building of Mariupol Airport.

“Radicals are the implementers, and the curators are the same security officers, employees of the SBU. Radicals are the hands of the security forces. The SBU is doing business on behalf of the state, and in case of illegal actions, a shadow will fall on the country, and this will ruin the image of the country in the political arena, and radicals are just people, citizens who are not officially employed by the special services. Such is the logic,” says another liberated Mariupol resident, Aleksandr Stelnikovich.

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The investigator in the cases of Skripnik and Stelnikovich was a certain Frolov, and the torture was carried out under his direct command and control. Employees of the counter-intelligence of the SBU periodically attended the torturing – on an alternating basis with “Azov” militants. According to former prisoners, the abuse lasted without stopping for six months, i.e., the whole period of the investigation. Then – five years of litigation, which never led to anything: there was no evidence of guilt of the defendants.

“When we were brought under the wing of the United Nations and the Red Cross, lawyers took up this case, people learned about us, and they (radicals) could no longer just kill us. We started to fight for the truth by legal methods, appealed to various authorities, claiming that we’d been tortured and that illegal methods of interrogation were being used. We could not prove it all, of course, but the case itself started to fall apart because it was originally planned that we would ‘repent’, confess, and accept our prison terms. But we found strength and started to fight,” added Skripnik.

Skripnik and Stelnikovich were participants in the exchange of held persons between Ukraine and the Republics of Donbass that took place on December 29th at the “Gorlovka” crossing point in the north of the city of the same name of the DPR. Both were detained in 2014 and spent more than five years in detention. The residents of Mariupol were accused of murder, mass riots, participation in terrorist organisations. Their guilt is still unproven.

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