The Morning Star has long been accused of being sponsored by Russia, right back to the days when it was called The Daily Worker and encouraging people to join the revolution with Marxist slogans informing readers they have nothing to lose but their chains. And of course funding came from Moscow because, from its formation in 1930 it had a pro-Soviet agenda and Soviet Russia was in need of a propaganda tool. Well, the internet and Russia Today (RT) did not exist.
Billed as “the paper owned by its readers” it has naturally been a target of big-business and governments who may see themselves as having everything to lose through advancement of its ideas.
Despite being a newspaper pilloried and ridiculed by mainstream press it has over the years broken big stories and gained respect for honest journalism – even from those who ridiculed it.
Torture chamber in Mariupol
Yesterday the Morning Star carried this headline:
Donetsk people’s militia claims to have found Azov torture dungeon in Mariupol
The existence of Azov battalion torture chambers is well-known. And the one called the Library, which it is thought this discovered prison is, has a notoriety of unspeakable suffering for those taken there.
The BBC this morning (0630 or 0730, Radio 4) made mention of the prison and tried to spin it as a Russian facility but seems to have removed that podcast from its list.
Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have covered some of the torture that has gone on in Mariupol before Russia began the process of returning the city to its citizens.
“Ukraine’s SBU stated in a letter to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that it has only one such facility, located in Kyiv.37 According to the SBU’s Internal Guidelines on Temporary Detention Facilities, the maximum period of detention in this facility should not exceed 10 days.”
Someone with first-hand experience, Artem, (not his real name) went through the system and survived. Amnesty reported on his case after his captors stopped him on October Street. The report is from 2015 and those who apprehended him “pulled a plastic bag over his head, threw him into the back of a car, and brought him to the basement of a building.”
From other detainees’ descriptions this building appears to have been a “sports school near Soyuz cinema” a base for AZOV battalion volunteers, where they “handcuffed him for long periods of time to a metal rod hanging from the ceiling in the basement and hit him repeatedly on his head and stomach, demanding that he tell them “everything.” The beating sessions continued for two days with short intervals in between. Artem’s torturers also instructed the guards to keep him from sleeping at night.”
He was subjected to gross torture with electric wires applied to his stomach and genitals and after threatening to bring his son and “tear him apart” in front of Artem, he said he would have confessed to anything. Eventually he was moved to a remand prison where he was allowed to take the bag off his head “for the first time”. He was advised to report his injuries as having occurred during his arrest, which he did. He was released in a prisoner exchange.
For his case, and that of others, nobody has been brought to justice. The report mentions the notorious facility at Mariupol airport in a footnote.
“In the three cases summarized below, only one detainee was brought before a court. In most of the other cases documented as part of this research, including five cases in which the victims were initially detained and tortured by the Azov battalion at the Mariupol airport and which will be covered by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in a separate briefing late this year. . .”
I have been unable to find this second report.
United Nations Human Rights Watch report for June 2016 notes.
“OHCHR received alarming reports about the lack of medical care in pre-trial detention facilities, sometimes leading to death in custody; particularly SIZO No. 7 in Mariupol, Stryzhavke SIZO No. 81 in Vinnytsia region, SIZO in Dnipropetrovsk No. 4, pre-trial detention facilities in Zaporizhzhia and Mariupol. Only basic medication is available for detainees and no proper diagnostic procedures are in place. Protracted pre-trial investigations and trial proceedings often result in detainees spending up to one year in these facilities. Without proper medical assistance, their health deteriorates dramatically due to a combination of poor nutrition, lack of fresh air and heating.”
The latest report out of Russia
There have long been reports about Mariupol airport being used as a torture chamber by AZOV forces. One of Putin’s reasons for intervening was to get rid of the neo-Nazis who have been committing these atrocities.
Here is an exclusive video report from Mariupol airport issued by the DNR (Donetsk National Republic). It is in Russian and from a VK website.
The reporter says that the facility was called the “Library” because those running it wanted to be able to read each prisoner like a book. No doubt more will emerge about what went on at this detention-centre, as well as the sports school in the locality of the Soyuz cinema.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch should be preparing accounts to help Russia bring the perpetrators to justice.
The cover image is of the DNR reporter at Mariupol airport.