Russian officer describes moment ‘crazy colonel’ tortured Ukrainians

Russian army officer admits Ukrainians were tortured

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A former Russian military officer who fled his post has described the horrifying moment he witnessed his “crazy” colonel shoot an unarmed Ukrainian under his kneecap for information. After moving to a “logistics headquarters” in April last year, in the town of Bilmak 90 miles northeast of Melitopol, Konstantin Yefremov, a former Russian military officer, witnessed terrifying instances where his colonel was torturing Ukrainians. He also described instances of looting, where Russian soldiers “grabbed everything they could” from Ukrainian properties, and desperate troops ate the fish from a pond amid issues of starvation near the frontlines.

Konstantin Yefremov was placed in temporary charge of a rifle platoon during the first weeks of the Russian invasion.

He headed to Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhya region on February 27, where he oversaw an airbase before heading deeper into Ukraine’s mainland.

Having tried to flee his post and issue a formal resignation, he was told by a military lawyer while on his way back to his base in Chechnya that he should turn back and rejoin his troops in the southern occupied territories.

He told the BBC that after he had told his colonel that he was going to resign, “he had promised to put me in prison for up to 10 years for desertion and he’d alerted the police”.

During his time at a “logistics headquarters” in April last year, in the town of Bilmak 90 miles northeast of Melitopol, Yefremov said he witnessed his colonel torturing Ukrainians.

He said: “One of [the Ukrainians] admitted to being a sniper. On hearing this, the Russian colonel lost his mind. He hit him, pulled the Ukrainian’s trousers down and asked if he was married.

“’Yes,’ the prisoner replied. ‘Then someone bring me a mop,’ said the colonel. ‘We’ll turn you into a girl and send your wife the video.’”

Yefremov reported that, in another interrogation, the colonel shot a prisoner in the arm and in the right leg under the knee, which hit the bone.

The victim was in serious risk of bleeding out so Yefremov and some fellow Russian soldiers took him to hospital.

He said: “We dressed him up in a Russian uniform and took him to hospital. We told him: ‘Don’t say you’re a Ukrainian prisoner of war, because either the doctors will refuse to treat you, or the injured Russian soldiers will hear and shoot you and we won’t be able to stop them.’”

In another incident, Yefremov said the colonel asked one prisoner, who had been blindfolded, to name all the Ukrainian nationalists in his unit.

Yefremov said: “The Ukrainian didn’t understand the question. He replied that the soldiers were naval infantry of the Ukrainian armed forces. For that answer they knocked out some of his teeth.”

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He added: “The colonel put a pistol to the prisoner’s forehead and said ‘I’m going to count to three and then shoot you in the head.’

“He counted and then fired just to the side of his head, on both sides. The colonel started shouting at him. I said: ‘Comrade colonel! He can’t hear you, you’ve deafened him!’”

The former Russian officer also recounted stories of soldiers “catching the Japanese carp in the pond outside” a mansion near Melitopol and “eating them” during bouts of severe hunger.

He also described soldiers looting abandoned air bases and homes, with some troops bragging about what they had taken.

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