A well-known Ukrainian paramedic who was held prisoner by Russian and separatist forces for three months after being captured in the southeastern city of Mariupol has accused her guards of psychological and physical torture during her time in captivity.
Yulia Paievska, 53, widely known in Ukraine by her nickname Taira, has reached folk hero notoriety. She said the abuse started immediately after she was recognized at a checkpoint near Mariupol and taken prisoner, along with her driver, on March 16.
“For five days I had no food and practically did not drink,” Paievska told CNN on Tuesday, almost three weeks after she was released in a prisoner exchange on June 17. The abuse, including beatings, she said, was “extreme” and “did not stop for a minute all these three months.”
From mid-March until mid-June, the pair were held in occupied territory in the Donetsk pre-trial detention center by a combination of forces from Russia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, she said.
Constantly you are told that you are a fascist, a Nazi,” she said, comparing the conditions to a gulag. She said she was told it “would be better if you were dead than see what will happen next.”