Kherson torture centers funded by the Kremlin

  • At least 20 torture chambers in Kherson were planned and directly funded by the Kremlin, international lawyers say in a new report.
  • More than 1,000 Ukrainians testified to their stay in the torture centers, located in the basements of abandoned buildings as well as in former prisons.
  • Electric shock torture and waterboarding are among the criminal acts described by Ukrainian women and men imprisoned in Kherson torture chambers

Editor’s Note: The following article contains graphics detailing reports of torture of people in Ukraine.

A photo of a hallway in a building where Russian forces have established a torture center in Kherson.

Photo: Harvey Presence

WASHINGTON — At least 20 torture centers in the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson have direct financial ties to the Kremlin, according to a team of international lawyers helping Ukraine investigate Russian war crimes.

The new evidence comes a year after Kherson was captured by Russian forces. It was the first major Ukrainian city to fall during the full-scale invasion of Moscow. In November, Ukrainian forces liberated the southeastern city, which was once home to more than 280,000 people.

“Working closely with the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, a paper trail has come to light which shows that the main torture chambers in Kherson and those who run them do so with the financial support of the Russian state,” said Wayne Jordash, international human rights lawyer. and managing partner of the law firm Global Rights Compliance, told CNBC.

Jordash added that the team of lawyers, experts and investigators discovered that the torture sites were directly operated by several Kremlin security agencies, including Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as FSB.

A photo of a cell used by Russian forces to detain Ukrainian civilians in the city of Kherson in southeastern Ukraine.

Photo: Harvey Presence

“Millions of rubles from Putin and his government helped fund the Kherson torture chambers which were designed for one purpose: to kill those who posed a threat to the Kremlin’s plans to extinguish Ukrainian nationality and culture. “added Jordash, who runs mobile justice. Team, a group of international lawyers and investigators supporting the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.

The Mobile Justice Team is a component of the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group, which is funded by the State Department, the European Union and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the State Department had a small team in the country to provide operational assistance to the Attorney General.

Learn more: Russian forces have moved at least 6,000 Ukrainian children to camps since war began, new report says

“After the invasion we had to think about how to expand that and so we immediately contacted the European Union and the United Kingdom and the two were keen to join forces in that regard. And so it is now a three-way effort,” said U.S. Goodwill Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack.

Van Schaack described Mobile Justice Teams as a rapid-response group of multinational, multidisciplinary experts tasked with helping investigators lock down crime scenes, identify evidence and interview survivors and witnesses. She added that the Prosecutor General of Ukraine had listed more than 70,000 Russian war crimes since the conflict began in Moscow a year ago.

The Kharkiv Oblast war crimes prosecutor stands with a forensic technician and a policeman at the site of a mass burial in a forest during an exhumation on September 16, 2022 in Izium, Ukraine.

Yevhenii Zavhorodnii | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“The aim is to ultimately support the Attorney General in his efforts to carry out effective investigations according to international standards, to build files on those responsible and, ultimately, to bring criminal cases to trial. nationals,” she added.

“Whenever Russia sees its troops withdrawing or retreating, journalists, human rights defenders, investigators, NGO workers can enter these areas and they are confronted with this potential evidence of serious atrocities,” Van Schaack said, referring to a pattern seen at Bucha. , Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Kherson, Kharkiv and other liberated towns and villages.

A UN report previously described gruesome accusations of war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

The Kremlin has previously denied that its forces are committing war crimes or deliberately targeting civilians. The Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

In Kherson, more than 1,000 Ukrainians testified to their stay in the torture centers, located in the basements of abandoned buildings as well as in former prisons. More than 400 people are also believed to have disappeared from Kherson torture sites, but it is unclear whether they were killed or taken to Russian-held territory.

Torture sites served a variety of purposes, including detention, interrogation, rehabilitation, and physical beatings.

A calendar marked on a wall in a cell as officers from the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office and police investigate war crimes committed by Russian occupying forces against the local civilian population in basements and the rooms of Kherson, Ukraine.

Peter Crom | Getty Images

Survivors also said in interviews with lawyers that electroshock torture and waterboarding were common tactics used by Russian forces in torture centers.

In some cases, Ukrainians were forced to memorize and recite pro-Russian slogans, poems and songs.

“This is further evidence of the genocidal tactics embedded in Putin’s plan to extinguish Ukrainian identity in areas under Russian occupation,” Jordash said.

He added that the Kremlin has shown no signs of giving up on its ambitions to erase Ukrainian sovereignty in order to restore the Soviet empire.

“Many other torture centers certainly exist around Ukraine in occupied areas and are funded by Putin’s credit card,” Jordash added.

Leave a Comment