No Statistics on Suicide in Russian and Ukrainian Prisons
Photo: A screenshot of the video
This Facebook post deliberately omits the context and creates propaganda that the Russian Army is humane with Ukrainian war prisoners. At the same time, it manipulates the calamities caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, presenting Russian prisons as humane places, although numerous reports inform about the ongoing torture, repression, beatings, inhumane treatment, and tormenting of Ukrainian detainees. In addition, there is no statistical data on the suicides in Russian and Ukrainian prisons, so one cannot conclude that in one or the other, there are more or fewer suicides
We are fact-checking a post on the social network Facebook (screenshot here) which shares two video clips and states the following:
The first video is from Russia, where Ukrainian imprisoned soldiers are visited by their families from Ukraine. The second one is a cherry-picked situation. There is a difference, quite a huge difference, in every respect. The Russians are persistent in their humanity and kindness, even when the enemy is a monster. But in any case, such treatment results in Russian prisons being full of Ukrainian soldiers, and up to date not a single Ukrainian soldier has committed suicide to avoid capture, while there are too many such cases when it comes to the Russians.
The first video shows a family happy to see their relative alive in a Russian prison.
The second video is a recording of a Russian woman coming to Ukraine to visit her husband, a Russian soldier in Ukraine. The Russian soldier, named Evgeny Kovtkov is not happy that his wife came to Ukraine to see him, knowing that she cannot go back to Russia. The video does not show any kind of torture, nor is the soldier complaining about torture. In the video, he is saying that he wants to go back to Russia because that is where his parents are. He also wants his wife to go with him, but she cannot go back to Russia. Such a situation is difficult and frustrating, and that is the reason why shock and disbelief can be noticed in his response.
The fact that in the video he is sad, however, cannot be related to suicides in Ukrainian prisons, nor to torture in Ukrainian prisons, but to the fact that he wants to be in Russia, because of his parents, and not in Ukraine.
In addition, as reported by the Daily Mail, if his partner returns to Russia, she will be facing prison and death, so the response of the soldier is such due to the difficult consequences that the war initiated by Putin has on the lives of both Russians and Ukrainians. Viewing this video in the context of good conditions in Russian prisons and poor conditions in Ukrainian prisons for imprisoned soldiers from the opposing side means omitting context and manipulation, i.e., propaganda.
Also, the woman in the second video accuses Putin of lying to the public. She negotiated personally with the Ukrainian side to cross over to Ukraine and see her husband, knowing that she will not be able to return back to Russia because she had criticized Putin several times for sacrificing Russian soldiers to give their lives in the war.
In addition, there is no statistics on soldiers who have committed suicide in both Russian and Ukrainian prisons, but there are reports that suggest that the relations towards the Ukrainian soldiers captured by the Russians are not at all that good as presented in the post that is fact-checked.
As Reuters reported recently, citing an investigative body of the United Nations, Russian occupiers had tortured Ukrainians so much that some of their prisoners had died, while family members were forced to listen to how their wives were raped.
Erik Mose, Chair of the Commission, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that his team had collected further evidence indicating that the use of torture by Russian Armed Forces in areas under their control has been widespread and systematic.
In 2022, BBC published testimonies of Ukrainian prisoners in Russian prisons testifying that they were subjected to torture, frequent beatings, and electric shocks while in detention in Southwest Russia. In a BBC interview, 12 former prisoners released as part of an exchange, claimed that they were subjected to physical and mental abuse by Russian administrators in the city of Taganrog. Their testimonies describe a consistent practice of extreme violence and ill-treatment in the prison, one of the places where captured Ukrainian prisoners were taken after the military invasion.
As reported by BBC quoting testimonies of these former prisoners, the men and women in Taganrog were repeatedly beaten, including at their kidneys and chests, and given electric shocks and interrogations. The Russian guards constantly threatened and intimidated the detainees, some of whom under pressure gave false confessions allegedly used as evidence against them in trials. Captives were constantly left undernourished, and those who were injured were not given appropriate medical assistance, with reports of detainees dying at the facility.
The Russian Government had not allowed any outside bodies, including the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to visit the facility which before the war was used exclusively to hold Russian prisoners, reports BBC.
Associated Press informed that thousands of Ukrainian civilians were detained, and Russia planned to create 25 new prison colonies. In addition, Ukrainians who resist Russian occupation were sent to Russia indefinitely, i.e., deported.
Many civilians are arrested up for alleged transgressions, as speaking Ukrainian or simply being a young man in an occupied region, and are often held without charge. Others are charged as terrorists, combatants, or people who resist the special military operation. Hundreds are used for slave labour by Russia’s military, for digging trenches and other fortifications as well as mass graves, Associated Press reports.
The article adds that in these Russian facilities, torture is performed routinely, including repeated electrical shocks, and beatings that leave fractures. Many former prisoners told the Associated Press that they witnessed deaths in these prisons. A United Nations report from June documented 77 executions of civilian captives and the death of one man due to torture.
The Guardian published an article on soldiers being tortured, overflowing prison cells, inhuman conditions, a regime of intimidation and murder, no communication with the outside world.
When one looks at these serious reports, the attempts to manipulate and present the stay in Russian prisons as something good, humane or civilized, while the stay in Ukrainian prisons as something bad, prove worthless. In addition, there is no statistical data on suicides in Russian and Ukrainian prison facilities by captive soldiers. Due to all of the above-noted facts, the fact-checked post is assessed as omitting context for the purpose of propaganda about Russian Army being humane with the Ukrainian captive prisoners.