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A juvenile prisoner in Russian prisons


International NGOs criticize Moscow for torturing prisoners and inhumane detention conditions. 16-year-old Vladislav Buriak talks about his own experience in Russian prisons.

On a remote road somewhere in southeastern Ukraine, a man gets out of his car wearing a bulletproof vest. A white van pulls up in front of him, the side door opens and a pale boy with nearsighted glasses gets out. He is 16-year-old Vladislav (Vlad) Buriak. The man in the vest is his father. They hug for the first time since the sixteen-year-old spent ninety days in a Russian prison. “I was a kitchen helper,” he says, “and I had to clean. Everywhere, throughout the building, even in the torture rooms.”

In early April the young man had tried to escape from Melitopol, which was already under Russian control, heading north to find his father, who worked as the head of the local administration in Zaporizhia. Restaurants, shops and pharmacies were closed in Melitopolis, and those who fled the city say looting was taking place in the streets. Why did the Russians capture Vladislav Buriak?His father, Oleg Buriak, claims he knows why: “He was a valuable hostage,” he says. “They were preparing a prisoner exchange and asked for a certain person. As long as the search for that person lasted, no one bothered Vlad.”

Torture in prisons

The 16-year-old may have escaped torture and physical violence, but the same did not happen to other inmates. He himself says that he heard their voices, sometimes he could talk with them. Usually what Russian investigators wanted was to expose them for hiding weapons. For anyone who didn’t speak, the torture got worse and worse. “I entered a cell and saw a man, bloody, hanging from the ceiling by a wire,” says the young man. “Beside him was a bucket, also full of blood, and to his right sat a Russian soldier who was calmly recording the confession, as if nothing was happening…”

The torture continued daily, often for hours at a time. Vladislav Buriak estimates that during the time he was a prisoner at least a hundred people must have been tortured, beaten with metal rods and batons, or even electrocuted. “They have a special machine,” he says, “that gives an electric shock, and then they connect it with some wires, push needles into the victim’s nails, and turn the power back on…” In the end, the young man was lucky. After three months he was released in a prisoner exchange, after lengthy negotiations. But as he says, it is impossible to get the screams of the people who suffered from the torture out of his mind.

Her placement Human Rights Watch

The 16-year-old’s testimony cannot be cross-referenced by an independent source. But it is identified with many other testimonies of prisoners and humanitarian organizations. The Human Rights Watch organization speaks of torture to death in some cases, while it has recorded 415 abductions of civilians by Russian soldiers in Zaporizhia. As the representative of the organization, Yulia Gorbunova, explains, “there is no way to protect yourself. You may not violate the curfew, you may not participate in demonstrations, and yet, it is possible to be arrested by accident, in the supermarket, anywhere…”

Rebecca Bart (ARD)

Edited by: Yiannis Papadimitriou

Source: Deutsche Welle

Source: Capital

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