Сaptured by Russia: Oleksandr Marchenko’s Story
The list of Ukrainians captured and imprisoned for political reasons in Russia and in Russian-annexed Crimea has increased to 88 people. Oleksandr Marchenko, a former mining engineer from Donetsk, had tried to recover his abandoned car only to find himself in a Russian prison
Ukrainian Oleksandr Marchenko is one of 88 Ukrainian prisoners held in the Russian Federation or by its forces in the occupied parts of Ukraine.
The former mining engineer had been on the way to his native Donetsk, wanting to pick up a car that he had left in the occupied territory.
“Since our family was in financial trouble, we came to the decision that Oleksandr should go back and at least try to recover the car,” his wife, Kateryna Marchenko said.
But Marchenko was captured. He was then tortured by Russian-led forces and made to confess under duress that he was working for Ukrainian intelligence.
“They sent him into solitary confinement. They hung him on his left arm, in a way that he could only reach the floor standing on his toes. And this is how they left him for about 24 hours,” his wife said.
Although Russia continues to deny that it is behind the war in the Donbas, by early 2019, the Ukrainian was handed over to Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB.
Human rights defenders say its common practice for Russia to take Ukrainians civilians captive and later use them as bargaining chips.
“Studying his case we can clearly see the close cooperation between the two secret services – the DNR’s so-called MGB and the Russian FSB. This case makes it obvious,” human rights defender, Oleksandra Matviychuk said.
The FSB placed Marchenko in a prison in Krasnodar, Russia, where they accused him of smuggling parts for military equipment into Russia. Marchenko’s mother visited him in prison.
“Over these two months, he’s lost 20 kilograms. This means… I don’t know what this means. Secondly, he had this look in his eyes… He was morally destroyed,” she said.
Marchenko’s relatives have reached out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and various government bodies, trying to get Marchenko’s name onto the list for a future prisoner exchange.
On Tuesday (Dec. 3), the international human rights group Memorial recognized Marchenko as a political prisoner.