Prisons and torture houses of Luhansk: Remand prison of the district internal affairs unit (RVVS)


Location icon 50 Shevchenka Quarter, Luhansk, Ukraine

In the summer of 2014, ‘LPR’ militants were detaining prisoners in the cells of the remand prison of Luhansk district internal affairs unit in Shevchenko Quarter. Both former militsiya and ‘militia men’ were working at the seized remand prison. According to witnesses, at some point, former law enforcement officials were replaced with ‘people from the street’ since military situation near Luhansk was complicated, and Shevchenko Quarter was targeted by artillery.

The cops took everything they could and escaped to Izvaryne. These ‘militia men’ came, they were not feeding us for about half a day, and then I started asking, and there were different people, ordinary civilians from the street.

Conditions of detention

People were detained in common cells for three-four people, as well as in solitary confinement. There were toilets, sinks, and wooden plank beds in the cells. It was possible to open the windows, there were barred.

Though the remand prison was designed for lengthy detention, the ‘LPR’ followers found ways to make the prisoners’ conditions worse. For instance, according to a prisoner, she did not receive a mattress or a blanket to cover herself:

During the first week, I didn’t have a mattress or a blanket, and it was cold during the night with the window open. When I asked for something to cover myself, they said, ‘You’re not supposed to have it’. I said, ‘May I?’ ‘No, you may not’. A week later, they gave me a mattress and a pillow from the neighboring cell, which had spare ones.

Then, a girl, one of the prisoners who was helping in the kitchen, she could already go outside, looked and asked, ‘You don’t have a sheet?’ I said, ‘No’. And she brought me a sheet…

In addition, there was a power outage at the remand prison during the siege of Luhansk; there was no lighting or water. There was not enough gasoline for a generator, and it was only turned on when there were giving out food, because the basement was completely dark without artificial light.

Prisoners’ nutrition also depended on circumstances. For instance, before militsiya left (they took supplies with them) prisoners were fed three times a day, and received canned meat and vegetables. Some prisoners were taken out for ‘nationalization’ of Metro (ruins of the hypermarket are shown in this video), where they could take butter, yoghurt, sweets, cigarettes etc. They shared food with the guards and gave them to other cells. In addition, families of locals brought packages. When they stopped taking people to Metro, the food turned into unsatisfactory, mostly pearl barley.

They boiled pearl barley, put the ‘15 vegetables’ spice mix there, it was horrible, bitter, and made you thirsty. There was no water either.

Without water, it was impossible to wash oneself or do laundry. As a rule, there was no medical assistance, except for series cases when people were taken to the hospital.

Prisoners were not taken out for walks, only for forced labor, if allowed, and for interrogations.

Torture and assaults

Interrogations were accompanied by abuse and beatings. Among those who tortured prisoners was Serhiy Lytvyn, who reached positions of ‘the minister of agriculture’ and ‘deputy head of the council of ministers’ of the ‘LPR’. Lytvyn personally choked people, put trash bags on their heads and put out cigarettes on their faces.

Stun gun, trash bags until suffocation… A gun - the racked the slide and put it to the head…

On the first day, the cops - it was an unsanctioned beating. When they brought me to the basement, this Dmytro Serhiyovych dragged me into the cell and went to look where to put me. And these cops attacked me, ‘Bandera bitch’, and started beating me. They broke my ribs, as it turned out later.

There were odd methods of torture. For instance, a victim said that Dmytro Serhiyovych, MoI colonel, made her drink a box of validol and six pills of barboval, as well as drink three liters of water and eat a loaf of bread.

Contrary to the rules, men undressed and searched female prisoners.

I said, ‘Usually, women are invited to search women’. ‘I will shoot you in the knee now if you resist’

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