A soldier of the Azov regiment known as Turk, one of Mariupol’s Ukrainian defenders, managed to return to Ukrainian-held territory in late June following a prisoner exchange. He said He was tortured by the Russians, but also the moment he was seriously injured during the Mariupol bombing.
Tork joined the Azov Brigade four years ago and fought to defend the port city of Mariupol.
In April, he was seriously injured at the Azovstal plant on the other side of town. Dark, along with other fighters, attempt to cross a besieged Russian city to a steel mill, but as they cross a bridge they are caught in a bombing raid.
The soldier describes how their vehicle crashed into the water. He survived and swam under the bridge, where he hid for a while with two other soldiers. The Russians bombarded the bridge for about 3 hours. Dark’s men were killed by Russian snipers, and he was the only survivor.
“I crawled through many factories and realized I would die of injuries or cold,” he said. Dark crawled about a kilometer near Azovstal, where he was found and carried on a stretcher into the plant, which became the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol.
Andrei Piletsky, the founder and first commander of the Azov regiment, said that no one from Azovstal believed that Dark survived because the convoy was destroyed by the Russians.
At Azovstal, Dark received emergency medical attention. He said there are problems with food, water, medicine etc. On the first day he got a cup of porridge and a piece of lard. According to him, if one soldier could tolerate the pain, another soldier who suffered more severe injuries received anesthetics. The hospital on the territory of the plant was a bunker for 300 people, and the room was 50 meters long and 20 meters wide.
Later, together with Ukrainian guards, he was taken into Russian captivity. Tork doesn’t want to surrender, but says he trusts his commander’s decision. They were sent to a detention center in Russian-controlled territory. No medicine.
The Russians allegedly tried to obtain incriminating statements from prisoners of war about Denis Prokopenko, the commander of the Azov regiment. They were also allegedly tortured during interrogation. Dark says one method involved inserting needles into wounds.
On the day of the prisoner exchange, the soldiers were not told where they were going, but were simply woken up in the morning and told to leave. After arriving in Ukrainian-controlled territory, Dark was taken to a hospital, where he was treated.
Pictures recently posted on social media show a Ukrainian soldier returning to his fiancee, who proposed while he was in the Azovstal bunkers.
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