Beaten daily, left without food and accommodated in miserable conditions: this is what two Ukrainian pilots went through, taken captive of rdoors. Released due to an exchange of prisoners, the two told CNN journalists the torments they went through in captivity and how they managed to get through those moments.
Oleksei Chyzh and Ivan Pepeliaško were returning from a mission on March 8, when their helicopter and two other planes were shot down by the Russians. Seriously wounded but alive, they were taken to hospital and became the first helicopter pilots captured by the Russian army since the start of the war. Their testimonies from captivity are disturbing.
“We were only given a small cup of water every day. The worst thing for me was that I couldn’t even wash my hands. It wasn’t until the eighth day that they gave me a pack of wet wipes to clean. “Oleksei Chyzh told CNN reporters.
The same soldier says he was forced to read a statement in front of the camera, in which he said that he was feeling well, that he was being treated properly and that he was against the war. At one point, he was even pressured to adopt Russian citizenship.
“I was warned that if I did not read the statement, I would not receive medical care, and my legs would get bruised and amputated. They asked me, “Why do you want to go back to Ukraine?” Look how big and strong Russia is. There are a lot of opportunities here. ”
For almost two weeks, the two pilots could not move, bedridden by their injuries. They say they were questioned every day about Ukrainian military positions, how many Russians they killed and where Kiev’s biological laboratories are. At one point, one of them tried to win the favor of a woman guarding them.
The military arrived in Kyiv again due to an exchange of prisoners
“I was hoping that, looking into my eyes, I would awaken her maternal instinct and tell everyone not to beat us anymore. But that didn’t happen. There was a void in her eyes … They wanted to show us that we were worthless. I thought, “Lord, can’t you hear me at all?”
Despite torture and the Russians’ attempt to brainwash them, Oleksa and Ivan resisted. They did this thanks to some imaginative exercises.
“I remember Oleksei talking about visiting Paris. I closed my eyes and imagined myself there. Then I promised myself that if I survived the captivity, I would definitely go to Paris. That distracted me from the pain. “confesses Pepeliaşko.
In the end, their efforts paid off. To their amazement, the military arrived in Kyiv again in mid-April due to an exchange of prisoners – more than a month after their capture. But even though they are now free, Paris must wait, because Oleksei and Ivan want to return to battle as soon as possible.
Editor: Liviu Cojan
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