RIA Novosti continues (part 1 can be found here) the publication of exclusive materials about the secret prison of the SBU and “Azov” at the airport of Mariupol. The document of the SBU testifying that the prison existed at least until the end of 2018 is at our disposal. Moreover, the active “trade” of prisoners was ongoing — the relatives could pay a $2,000-3,000 ransom for the unlucky prisoner.
CASE WITH RENO
In addition to testimonies of the former Lieutenant Colonel of the SBU Vasily Prozorov, there is also other evidence of the existence of a secret prison at the airport of Mariupol and also proof of the SBU’s attempts to hide this fact — for example, the document from the SBU that incidentally fell into hands of the DPR. It follows from this document that in October-November 2018 the prison at the airport still existed.
The matter is that at the beginning of this year an employee of the Mariupol military registration and enlistment office — the deputy chief of a confidential unit of the Donetsk regional military commissariat of the UAF Yury Aushev – switched to the side of the DPR. He was disappointed while serving in the UAF, left, and returned to his native Donetsk.
In a military registration and enlistment office of Mariupol Aushev was responsible also for internal security, that’s why he installed on the office’s computers a special program that recorded all the operations that are carried out on them.
At first he needed it for his work, and then when his decision to return to Donetsk from the alien-to-him Mariupol ripened, Aushev calculated that with this baggage he will be more welcomed in the DPR.
As a result, several thousands of documents were at the disposal of the DPR.
At the place of his service in a military registration and enlistment office, Aushev was supervised by a SBU officer – a senior operative on especially important issues from the 3rd sector of the 5th department of SBU military counterintelligence Lieutenant Colonel Sergey Stetsenko. In defiance of all duty regulations, he came to the military registration and enlistment office and worked there not especially caring for privacy.
Thus Stetsenko’s documents, which do not have relations to the military registration and enlistment office, fell into Aushev’s hands. Including — a report on contact with “agent Reno”: this is a certain Ukrainian soldier who told Stetsenko about the moods in the ranks of the UAF.
The local resident Lyudmila Momot appealed to Reno to find out the fate of her son Igor (1990 year of birth) who disappeared on October 3rd 2018.
Lyudmila told Reno that a week after Igor’s disappearance she was called by an unknown person and reported that her son is in the airport, but that it is still possible to liberate him for $3,000.
The pensioner didn’t have such money, and she asked Reno to help her because he is a “high-ranking serviceman”.
Stetsenko promised Reno to look into the situation, having ordered: “For the purpose of preventing information leakage about the place of keeping prisoners in the insulator on the territory of the specified establishment, to orient Reno to bringing information to L. Momot about the non-existence of prisons on the territory of the airport”.
Yes, it was proposed to pay a ransom in order so that this person leaves this hell on earth under the name “Mariupol airport”. Most likely, this concerned random people who found themselves at the airport for a St. George’s Ribbon or a suspicious photo on their phone. Representatives of the DPR and militiamen were subjected to torture; criminal cases were opened against them — concerning them it was impossible to count on a ransom of $2,000-3,000.
The resident of Mariupol and veteran of Afghanistan Pavel Karakosov in the summer of 2014 worked as a taxi driver and transferred to the DPR reconnaissance data from Mariupol. In July he came to the airport in order to take away a person whose ransom had been paid.
“In the city there already were gloomy rumours. There were sayings, like: ‘It is not a telephone conversation — what, you want to be in the airport?’” remembers Karakosov.
In his presence, one client agreed to liberate his relative, who seemingly wasn’t involved in anything serious, from the airport. Negotiations went through the official of the Mariupol mayor’s office, and the ransom was transferred prior to the trip.
Karakosov remembers this day very well: “The relative and the one who reached an agreement went with us. He called and said what car should be allowed to pass. The detainee was brought out of the airport building and brought to the car. He was 35-40 years old. He had been strongly beaten. I understood that he had been there for around 3 days. He couldn’t say anything nor did he want to”.
Another client, a certain local taxi driver, was more talkative. He said that recently he went to Zaporozhye to receive a new passport. On the way back, at one of the checkpoints, his document caused suspicions — they claimed it was a fake given to a Russian saboteur. The pensioner was brought to the airport and beaten up for two days – it was demanded from him to admit everything. He had nothing to admit, and when the torturers were convinced of this, he was released. “The $2,000 that he had on him was taken from him, but he was all the same happy, since he was released live!” remembers Karakosov. And soon he also became a captive of the airport.
KARAKOSOV WAS PINGED THROUGH HIS CELLULAR
Unlike his clients, Karakosov was not the accidental victim of “Azov” members and the SBU: being an active supporter of the DPR and one of the organisers of the May 11th referendum, he came into the view of the Ukrainian security officers long ago.
“Azov” detained him on August 11th on the territory of one of the car enterprises where Karakosov came to see his comrade in order to repair his car. He considers that he was pinged through cellular communication towers: special technology allows to calculate the location of a subscriber with an accuracy of 20-30 meters. This matches the stories told by Vasily Prozorov – that the SBU obtained very large volumes of data through listening to cellular communication.
Karakosov spent 7 days in the prison of the airport — in these same refrigeration chambers that Prozorov mentioned.
“Me (after detention), I was brought to the airport, thrown at the entrance, and they shouted: ‘This is a separatist’. 15 people started to beat me. After they had their fun, they lowered me to the basement. They threw me into a refrigeration chamber. The cell is about three by five meters, without air access, it is densely closed. Thank God that it wasn’t a working one; it wasn’t cold in there. It was upholstered with aluminium sheets. There was already a prisoner inside, they had been strongly beaten. He could not talk, his face was puffed up from being strongly beaten. His eyes were like slits,” said Karakosov, describing his first acquaintance with prison.
Then he had to get acquainted with the entire range of torture applied by security officers.
“Their practice was American-esque, like in Guantanamo. They put the person in the shape of a star, and then they put a rag on their head and pour water on it. You have the feeling that you are drowning. Water particles enter together with an intensive inflow of air; the brain perceives it as drowning. I during had a microstroke during torture … As though millions of needles were being thrusted into the head,” he said, giving the details.
One more torture — “scissors”. Two parallel rails. “They put your palms on a rail, and lower the second one from a height and split the fingers,” continues Karakosov.
“Or needles under the nails (of toes). You have the impression that your tendons are being pulled from your neck through all the body. Yes, this was done to me – I experienced it. Cutting legs using a grinder and other extremities is a customary practice,” he affirms. And he shows a scar on his leg from a chainsaw — they didn’t saw off the leg, they only scared him.
“Azov” members demanded from Karakosov the names and contacts of other residents of Mariupol involved in the organisation of a referendum and in the DPR. All the data that was so cruelly beaten out from prisoners came to the SBU – “Azov”, in fact, did the dirty work instead.
“After all, the SBU acted in the legal framework. The ‘Azov’ battalion is such an outlet for the SBU via which they could do anything. And the SBU can always say — but it wasn’t us, it was the ‘Azov’ battalion, and they are not subordinated to us,” he argues.
Karakosov also considers that at the airport there are secret burials of the prisoners who died or were killed during torture: “Those who died from torture at the airport were found on the streets of Mariupol simply as unidentified corpses. They were thrown out of cars somewhere on the road. Many people vanished in the city. There was a smell of death. Yes, a putrid smell. I assume that somewhere near the airport building, if to look, there are mass burials”.
After a week of torture Karakosov was transferred to the Mariupol SBU — the protocol of detention was officially issued, and the prisoner was transferred to the Kamensk pre-trial detention center in the suburb of Mariupol. The condition of the man was such that at first there was a refusal to receive him, being afraid that he will die.
“The doctor says: ‘What are your symptoms?’ I just lifted my shirt,” he remembers. In December 2014 Karakosov was exchanged.
OMBUDSWOMAN: PRISON AND BURIALS MAY STILL EXIST
The ombudswoman on human rights of the DPR Dariya Morozova who is engaged in prisoner exchanges also believes that the prison at the airport of Mariupol still operates.
“We receive information (about the airport) even from those who were detained in 2018-2019. In Mariupol torture was used, people were beaten very strongly, tortured, and strangled. All the most terrifying methods of psychological and physical manipulation were used in Mariupol,” said Morozova to RIA Novosti.
She considers that there can be secret burials of the remains of prisoners of such prisons.
“I do not want to exaggerate. But as a person who has been involved in this since 2014, I know how many videos there were on YouTube and Ukrainian TV channels showing the detention of guys — and it isn’t know where these guys are… Over 5 years we haven’t been able to find many. Respectively, there are all grounds to believe that they were taken to such places,” she notes.
According to Morozova, “the DPR is searching for 249 people, about who there was exact information that they were detained on the territory of Ukraine”.
“From 249, we have official confirmations from the Ukrainian side in relation to 101 persons,” she specified. The fate of the others is unknown.
“I do not exclude that there are, and will continue to be, mass burials near such places of detention,” emphasizes Morozova.
NOT ONLY THE AIRPORT
“I am sure that it’s not just one place. Very soon we will learn about several such places in the city of Mariupol. For example, last year a young woman was detained. The SBU took her to the settlement of Berdyansk. For about a month we could not find where she was. Then it became clear that there was an illegal place of detention of the SBU. This person was beaten and tortured for over a month. This is a young woman. Everything that could be used against her was used. And she was starved,” said Morozova.
According to her, in the settlements on the bank of the Azov Sea there are many abandoned holiday facilities. “All of them were located there — ‘Azov’, ‘Aidar’, ‘Tornado’, ‘Donbass’. And all of them in 2014-2015 had their own secret prison there where they tortured people”.
After Vasily Prozorov’s speech, the ombudswoman of the DPR addressed to the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission with a request to check the stated information. She also urges former prisoners to appeal to these international organisations with complaints so that their testimonies are documented.
Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
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