Soon after Russian forces took her prisoner, the 52-year-old woman picked up a nail and carved her name into a brick wall.
A-L-L-A, she wrote.
Below, she scratched how many days she had been held in the shed outside a medical clinic in her hometown. Above, she wrote in simple words what she had endured in captivity: ELECTRICAL SHOCK. UNDRESS. PAINFUL.
She hoped the markings would one day serve as clues for her son about what she expected to be the final days of her life.
“I thought if my son would look for me, he could find these writings and understand that I was there and died there,” she later recalled.
Some of Alla’s writing is still visible in the small shed in Izyum, the city in northeast Ukraine, where she said occupying Russian forces tortured, raped and beat her while she was held captive for 10 days in July.
The men who detained her, Alla said, were seeking information about her son, who works for Ukraine’s internal security service, the SBU, and about her own work at the region’s gas company. Her husband, who worked at the same company, was also detained and tortured on the clinic’s property.
Alla’s account of her treatment at the hands of Russian forces adds to a growing body of evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops and officials in the parts of Ukraine they occupied this year, after President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion and launched a full-scale war.
Russian forces have left a trail of destruction and cruelty across Ukraine, including in Bucha, where they were accused of atrocities. New reports of barbarity are emerging as Ukraine’s military liberates more towns following months of occupation, and as authorities and rights groups try to document these acts of inhumanity in hopes of one day bringing perpetrators to justice, perhaps before an international tribunal.
Russia controlled Izyum, a small city in the northeast Kharkiv region, from March through September, when a surprise Ukrainian counteroffensive forced Russian troops and local collaborators to rapidly retreat. In the weeks since Ukraine retook its territory, horrific details have emerged about some of the most grievous offenses Russian forces allegedly committed during their violent occupation.
Civilians who survived the occupation have recounted other instances of rape and torture at the hands of Russian and Russia-backed troops. Some of the hundreds of civilian bodies retrieved from a mass burial site in Izyum showed signs of torture, Ukrainian officials said. [Continue reading…]