POW “Anton” is a prisoner of war in Ukraine. He was imprisoned for 45 days. Now he wants nothing more than to leave the Russian army.
– I was sent to Ukraine completely unprepared.
“Anton” joined the Russian army in December of last year, immediately after completing his professional studies.
In an interview with Watchman “Anton,” who actually has a different name, tells what it was like when he was imprisoned in Ukraine for 45 days.
When he first joined the army, his unit was sent to the Crimea, where he was asked to join a week-long training camp.
As the weeks passed, Anton says, many of his unit became anxious about being sent to war. Because the thought was silly.
Many young boys never imagined that we would go to war. They told us about it at the last minute. The night before the invasion, Anton told the newspaper.
Recalling past events, Anton says that he should have done everything to avoid joining the army.
Caught after a few days
The day after the invasion, on February 25, Anton’s unit was ordered to cross the border into Ukraine from the Crimea.
They were transported in armed wagons to the outskirts of Mykolaiv, which was violently attacked by Russian troops in the first days of the war.
As they continued on foot, Anton and some members of the unit separated from the others, and they were attacked by Ukrainian forces.
Then they stayed in Ukraine for less than a week.
Anton says he was shot in the hand by the Ukrainians when he was captured.
Then Ukrainian forces put a bag over his head as he was taken to a prison cell.
The first days in captivity were marked by fear.
– You sprinkle the smallest sounds. Anton says you hope every day that this will not be your last day and that you will not be killed.
He never physically harmed Ukrainian troops, but says that the guards tortured him and the others mentally.
We are constantly told that Russia is over, that we belong to the bottom of society. They threatened to starve us.
According to the Geneva Conventions, the detention of prisoners of war should not be a form of punishment, but rather a means to prevent further participation in the conflict.
Russia has been accused of violating international law before Putting Ukrainian prisoners of war in prisons for criminals. Russia has previously denied violating international agreements related to the invasion.
Ukraine has also been accused of violating international law To beat and threaten Russian prisoners of war.
staring at the wall
It soon became the daily boredom that became Anton’s biggest challenge.
– If we are lucky, we are given a random thing to read. Sometimes they let us watch Ukrainian propaganda on TV.
Most days, Anton says, she was still staring at the wall in front of him.
He was transferred three times during his time as a prisoner of war. At one point, he was asked about an interview about captivity with a Ukrainian vlogger.
Ukrainian authorities allowed journalists and video bloggers to interview Russian prisoners of war. interviews like this He received criticism for violating war conventions.
– In such a situation, as a prisoner, you realize that it is not really an opportunity to say no. You say yes despite the fact that they say you can refuse, says Anton.
– You have terrible dreams
In April, Anton was informed that he would be exchanged for a Ukrainian soldier.
Neither Ukraine nor Russia provided many details about the prisoner-of-war exchange.
According to Anton, it was part of a one-to-one exchange in which 17 other Russian soldiers participated. It is said that the exchange took place near the Ukrainian city of Melitopol.
As soon as he returned to Russia, he was interrogated by the Security Service of Russia.
– They wanted to know if they could still trust me. It was a standard procedure.
A few days after his discharge from the hospital, he felt the stress it had caused him in captivity, both mentally and physically.
When you sit on my lap, I shut off most of my feelings. I tried not to think about my life, but now I have terrible dreams. I sleep yet. I put a lot on myself.
Anton says the authorities gave him €2,000 in compensation for the injuries he sustained. According to Russian military law, serving people do not receive compensation for being held as a prisoner of war, and Anton says that he was expected to enter service as soon as he was in good health.
The experience in Ukraine made Anton now try to leave the army for good.
– I just want to go home. All I want is to go home.
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