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Ex-prisoner of pro-Russian militants: 'I saw guys who were electrocuted'

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Respondent : Vlad Ovcharenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Released from captivity Vladyslav Ovcharenko in an interview with 112 Ukraine told about his detention, about the most difficult thing for him, and the moment he will remember for a lifetime
20:47, 30 January 2018

Read original interview at 112.ua

112 Agency

Vladyslav Ovcharenko, ex-prisoner of pro-Russian militants

112 Ukraine: I think you remember these moments here - I'll show you. And what do you feel now, when you look at these photos? (Shows a photo of Ovcharenko with the flag of Ukraine in the center of Luhansk, as well as a photo where he and his friend burn the flag of LNR (the so-called Luhansk Republic)

Ovcharenko: Yes, I remember. You know, I feel some pride for myself and not a single bit of regret. I am sure that we did all this for good reason, we did the right thing. We had to answer for this, but people must answer for every act. We did not do anything bad - we are not traitors. On the contrary, we showed that we love our homeland, even now in the temporarily occupied city. We, unlike other guys, are not afraid, and we show it.

- Was it a collective decision, or was it someone who came up with it? If you go back to ...

- ... to burning the flag.

- Yes. Where did you get it?

- Let's just say - we found it.

- Is it a secret?

- Yes, this is our little secret. We found it - it's just that the guy had a flag in the backpack, we accidentally found out about it. And then in the process we decided: "Guys, let's burn it in front of the camera. If we shoot the video already, let's burn it." Nobody was against it, and burned the LNR flag against the background of the banner "Luhansk is Ukraine". Quite spectacular.

- And when you did this, did you think about the consequences of this?

- No one thought about the consequences, but everyone understood that sooner or later authorities could take us.

- On the Internet, on YouTube there is a video where you, in particular, are named leader of the neo-Nazi group, and where you allegedly call the names of your curators who work with you. Tell us about how it happened.

- Yes, I will tell you – it happened usually. We were taken from the basement, from the "MGB" (Ministry of State Security of LNR)...

- So, then you were in the basement?

- I was still in the basement, yes. They took us into the office, doors were immediately closed, and then guys with automatic rifles came in. We are given two sheets of paper with text and said - read and remember. And these texts of any kind were incomprehensible to me - where did they come from? We were said: "Guys, learn the text, ten minutes – then we film it, and then we let you go back."

- They're letting you go back to the basement?

- Yes. If you do not want to, they'll force you.

- Force how?

- Torture, beatings.

- In our conversation behind the scenes, you remembered the story that you know how it feels when you are pricked with a rusty needle. Is this the story? Did it happen there?

- Let's just say - I saw guys who were tortured more brutally than us. We went through a lighter version of all those tortures. I saw guys who were electrocuted.

- Did they show you this?

- No, but when I was still there, in the basement, they led there a man who was really roasted half to death. I do not know what he did wrong, I did not really talk to him - he was simply thrown into my cell. I thought he would die there till morning. They generally have lawlessness there. They have a complete mess. They do not care – is it their guy or stranger. And if you are a stranger from Luhansk, and even with such an ideology, roughly speaking, strongly Ukrainian, a nationalist, then, of course, this is generally a special option.

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- Let’s talk about MGB. Was it one person there who allowed himself to torture you?

- No. In general, there were three people, our interrogators. And so, each passing employee could come up to beat us.

- Go to the cell and just beat you?

- Raise us for interrogation - and beat. Or go to the cell. No difference.

- Were you acquainted with these people until then in a peaceful life?

- With some - yes, I saw some of them.

- Are they your peers?

- There are some who are a little older, for several years. Let's just say - we went to football matches together. Now they are holding senior positions in some structures. Some are just operative workers. With these people, dialogue is impossible at all. These people either kill or detain you. The most difficult time was, when these MGB-workers brought your parents, brought your girl for a visit. You know, you can physically tolerate everything. Absolutely. But psychologically you can be broken.

- When you got there for the first time, were dragged to this basement, and then dragged to the jail, what surprised you first?

- In jail, it is the solidarity of the criminals with me. Because I expected that there I would be more hated in the sense that I supported Ukrainian forces when they were here, when they tried to enter Luhansk. I thought that there would be pressure on me. But the detained guys on the contrary supported me.

- What about communication with relatives?

- The first time, on April 6, they were allowed to see me at MGB. They just could say “Hi-hello" and that’s all. Then there was a meeting on November 13th. That is, after I was convicted, on November 13, later we had our first meeting with our parents. We already talked normally, I learned that the exchange is really being prepared. We are in the lists, marches are held in Ukraine to support me and Artem (Akhmerov, - ed.). That is, I began to understand that at least something is happening, connected with us.

- What did you feel when you were sentenced, realizing that you will be deprived of freedom for 17 years, and charged with espionage in favor of Ukraine?

- At first it was funny. In fact, it was ridiculous - because of such a term, 17 years. I got into this issue - I was 19 years old - that's almost all my life. It's impossible, it's some kind of nonsense – somebody is laughing at us. Then, on the contrary, there was some sort of panic: 17 years – it’s too long, it's like never after. And then I began to understand - it's ridiculous, we will be taken to Ukraine in any way. I know that after the trial the mood changed every day. I was like - we are not needed by anyone, we are abandoned, because no one comes to us, no one speaks to us. No one said anything to support us, civilians. Therefore, there was some kind of panic.

- What were you thinking about when you were already being transported for exchange? And were you afraid that maybe the process could break at the last minute?

- I thought until the last moment that, most likely, it will break. Because we were brought in at 11 o'clock already to the neutral territory, and from 11 to 2 o’clock we just stood in anticipation of a miracle.

- Nobody told you anything?

- No one said anything, nothing happened. There was information, said that exchange should occur at 11 o'clock, and there were already 2 o’clock - we understood that something is wrong. The mood was bad. But then, thank God, we passed the first Ukrainian checkpoint, I saw the Ukrainian flag and I understood: "Oh my God, it can’t be.” Everything was like in fairy tale. We passed the second checkpoint. I thought: "Well, everything is all right, I’m at home." When we stopped in Mayorsk, they said: "Well, everyone, let's go out." Then I just could see around our guys, our military, our chevrons, all Ukrainian, Ukrainian flag hanged - this was the moment I will remember for a lifetime.

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