Inside Kherson’s torture chambers where Russians electrocuted anyone who went against them

Maxim says he was held and tortured at a pre-trial detention centre in Kherson

When Kremlin forces arrived, anyone suspected of disliking the city’s new rulers could find themselves dragged into dungeons

KHERSON

17 November 2022 • 7:56am

Until nine months ago, the only people likely to end up in Kherson’s Teploenerhetykiv Street police station were thieves and drunks.

But when Russian troops arrived, anyone suspected of disliking the city’s new rulers could find themselves dragged in there.

Technically, that meant nearly everyone in Kherson – although in practice, it was locals like Maxim, who was on a list of former Ukrainian troops the Russians found. For the crime of serving his country, he was interrogated for three weeks, beaten and electrocuted.

“They arrested ex-soldiers like me, but they also took anyone suspected of being pro-Ukrainian nationalists,” he told The Telegraph.

“They tortured us because they thought we were passing information about Russian troop movements to the Ukrainian military.”

At one point, Maxim was taken to the police station basement and had a bag placed over his head, crocodile clips attached to his ears, and a powerful electric current applied. He declined to elaborate on just how painful it had been, but claimed other aspects of his ordeal had been even harder.

“The worst thing, actually, was hearing the screams and suffering of people in other cells,” he said. “Our captors were partly just following orders, but also seemed to be acting out of hatred.”

A pre-trial detention centre in Kherson where Russians allegedly tortured prisoners
A pre-trial detention centre in Kherson where Russians allegedly tortured prisoners CREDIT: Heathcliff O’Malley

Maxim, who was released in late March – having spent his 45th birthday in jail – returned to Teploenerhetykiv St on Wednesday to give reporters an account of the horrors that had gone on there.

The police station is now being treated as one large crime scene by Ukrainian prosecutors, who arrived after Russian troops’ withdrawal from Kherson last week.

In some of the building’s litter-strewn cells, they were said to have found chairs with metal shackles attached, and a device with a dial like an old-fashioned telephone that dispensed electric shocks.

‘President Zelensky, we are coming’

In the station’s outbuildings, Russian graffiti declared: “President Zelensky, we are coming.” A framed photograph of Vladimir Putin that had hung on a wall lay smashed on the ground.

Maxim was lucky, by all accounts, to be around to tell his tale.

Volodymyr Kaluga, the senior Kherson prosecutor, said that investigations had been opened into 869 cases in which people had been detained and tortured. So far, however, only 480 of the alleged victims had been found. Asked if he knew what had happened to the rest, he replied: “Unfortunately not”.

Police Investigators at a park where it is believed resistance fighters were executed by Russians
Police Investigators at a park where it is believed resistance fighters were executed by Russians CREDIT: Daily Telegraph/Heathcliff O’Malley

Meri Akopyan, a deputy interior minister who visited the police station yesterday, said that community leaders and local officials were among those still unaccounted for: “We don’t know whether these missing people have been killed, taken to Russia, or simply not tracked down yet.”

The first major Ukrainian city to fall into Russian hands, Kherson has been re-adjusting to life back in Kyiv’s control since last Friday, when the Kremlin withdrew its 30,000 troops to the east side of the Dnipro River. The city has been left in a state of ruin, with most businesses either shut, looted or war-damaged. Homes are cut off from electricity, gas and water.

Booby-trapped

Work is already underway to restore power, while Starlink satellite portals have been set up in the city’s main Freedom Square, which was packed yesterday with people accessing messages on their smartphones. Mine clearance work is also underway around the city’s roads, railways and power plants, some of which were booby-trapped.

Kherson’s prosecutors, meanwhile, already have 10 teams of investigators working on crimes committed during the occupation – including those by alleged collaborators.

Some 237 cases have been opened already, assisted by a confidential hotline set up on the Telegram messenger channel where residents can pass on tips. At least 85 alleged collaborators have been arrested already, Ms Akopyan said. 

Also being rounded up are large numbers of local convicts, who were released by the Russians on the condition that they worked as informants and enforcers.

“Local people who were here during the occupation know best who was collaborating, and we have received evidence through the Telegram channel including videos and photos,” said Ms Akopyan. “But we will investigate each case properly.”

People arrested in Kherson for allegedly collaborating with the Russians
People arrested in Kherson for allegedly collaborating with the RussiansCREDIT: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

As well as tracking down those accused of betraying the city, Kherson was yesterday also honouring those who had tried to defend it. Some Ukrainians claim the city did not put up enough of a fight, although others say that local pro-Russian officials deliberately left it poorly guarded.

At a wooded municipal park in a suburb, a memorial on a bullet-scarred tree marked the spot where 17 members of a territorial defence unit were killed as a Russian armoured column invaded on March 1. Their bodies were left there for two days until a local priest retrieved them for burial.

Molotov cocktails

“These men were only lightly armed with Molotov cocktails, and they were cut down with large-calibre machine-gun fire from Russian tanks,” said Mykola Verbytsky, the deputy head of Kherson’s police investigation team. “We have found the bullet casings. This will be treated as a war crime.”

As he spoke, colleagues were gathering further evidence in the woodlands behind the memorial, which was decked with bouquets of fresh flowers.

“In memory of the guys from the Kherson Territorial Defence who went to Heaven,” it read. “March 1st, 2022.”

6 comments

  1. Just when the defenders are making great progress, the Biden administration avoided the possibility of losing both houses, the putinazis are inflicting genocide on civilians because their cockroach army is failing and yet more proof of vile torture emerges from Kherson, the utter arsehole Milley comes up with something to give heart to the occupier vermin :

    “The probability of a Ukrainian military victory – defined as kicking the Russians out of all Ukraine to include what they claim as Crimea – the probability of that happening anytime soon is not high, militarily.”

    Contrast that shit with what Gen Austin said, what Nancy Pelosi said and what Gen Ben Hodges said.

    I think they should fire his ass and replace him with someone who’s got some fucking spunk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The worst thing, actually, was hearing the screams and suffering of people in other cells,” he said. “Our captors were partly just following orders, but also seemed to be acting out of hatred.”

    The entire kremlin murder gang must face trial and once convicted of a litany of the most evil crimes in history, must face a medieval punishment. It should be immensely painful.
    I’d be happy for them to encounter what Edward Woodward had to face in the folk-horror movie The Wicker Man.

    https://www.movieposterdb.com/the-wicker-man-i70917

    Liked by 1 person

      • There are a lot of Ukrainians freezing right now and they are probably more worried about getting their power back on than long range missiles. I know UA generals would like to have the long range missiles along with some other gear too. Hell, if Biden’s advisors won’t listen to UA generals I doubt they’ll listen to us.

        Liked by 1 person

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