Putin builds 20 torture chambers to erase Ukraine’s identity

Vladimir Putin has had at least 20 “genocidal” torture centres built in the Kherson region to destroy Ukraine’s identity, with waterboarding and electric shocks commonplace, an investigation has claimed. Evidence allegedly backing a probe by Kyiv’s Office of the Prosecutor General into war crimes includes financial links to the Russian state and to President Putin.

The Mobile Justice Team of investigators was set up by human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance last April. Its managing partner, Wayne Jordash KC, said: “Putin’s plan is to occupy Ukraine, subjugate the Ukrainian population to Russian rule and destroy Ukrainian identity.

“This plan is becoming clearer as the evidence of war crimes proliferates and as our investigations progress. The mass torture chambers financed by the Russian state are …part of a carefully thought-out and financed blueprint.

“[They] are the tip of the iceberg in Russia’s inherently criminal plan” to enslave Ukrainians.

The barrister added: “This is yet more evidence of genocidal tactics baked into Putin’s plan to extinguish Ukrainian identity. Many more torture centres certainly exist around Ukraine in occupied areas.”

The torture sites were said to be operated by Russia’s Federal Security Services (FSB) and its prison service.

One was found in an office block basement, another in a detention facility. Tyre fires were set to destroy evidence as Kremlin troops fled Kherson but prisoner graffiti survived.

Some 1,000 torture victims gave evidence of beatings, electric shocks and waterboarding.

Many survivors said they were grabbed on the street for having pro-Ukraine material on their phones. More than 400 people are reportedly missing from the Kherson centres.

Russia’s alleged war crimes include indiscriminate shelling of civilians, deliberate killing, torture, rape and other sexual violence, plus looting and abduction on a huge scale.

Some 14,000 children are said to have been sent to Russia for “re-education” and forced adoption since it invaded in February last year.

The Mobile Justice Team has 10 Ukrainian lawyers plus 25 international prosecutors and investigators, some of whom have returned from working abroad, committed to achieving justice for Ukraine.

Mr Jordash said they work with the prosecutor general’s office “to ensure these crimes are documented and investigated as thoroughly as possible and with maximum integrity”.

He added: “We can create a bedrock of truth and a historical record, which can be used both to counter Russia’s misinformation and to find justice for Ukraine’s victims”.

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