Marine from Mariupol recounts his experience in Russian captivity, and daring escape

Hennadiy Zelenyi
Hennadiy Zelenyi

A Ukrainian marine from Mariupol, Hennadiy Zelenyi, shared his story about Russian captivity and his escape from it in an interview with Ukrainian journalist and video blogger Ramina Eshakzai on Nov. 15.

Zelenyi said that he spent nine months in Russian-occupied Mariupol, and only nine months ago made it back to territory controlled by Ukraine. The marine also revealed that he was betrayed to the Russians by a man he helped.

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"A man came into the shelter seeking help, saying his family's house was on fire,” he began.

“Everyone ignored him. I decided I had to help. We rescued his children and wife and returned to the shelter. I realized I was sweating and needed to change clothes to avoid getting sick. I went to the edge of the basement and, in retrospect, I think someone saw my tattoos. When I was leaving, the man I helped thanked me. Then I went up the stairs, rose my head and saw the barrel of a gun – a Russian soldier. I was betrayed by the guy I helped. Those who helped the Russian military received ‘permission’ to loot.”

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Zelenyi added that even civilians with a trident tattoo could be shot by the Russians.

"Even for an inscription in Celtic (languages), they could be shot, like ‘you are a fascist,’” he said.

"For some reason, I thought that if I explained something, there would be some kind of understanding. They would ask, 'Are you an Azov scout?' I'd answer 'No,' and they'd hit me in the face. Same question, same answer—another blow. I realized talking was pointless. Even if I claimed to be an Azov scout, they would either shoot me or beat me relentlessly. There was no other way out. Most times, I just remained silent. I endured daily beatings for four weeks,"

Determined to escape, the marine devised a plan.

"I was in horror, panic,” Zelenyi said.

Read also: About 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers thought to be missing since Russia’s full-scale invasion

"When you're hungry and your body aches, you can't think about anything else. Constant pain. They knocked out eight of my teeth, it hurt. I was tied up, and it hurt. They only untied me for interrogations. Then, I reached a breaking point. Using an opportunity, I gathered all the strength left in me, and got out of that, so to speak, room where I was both held and interrogated. I made a plan, waited for the right moment, and climbed out the window. I climbed down a shop sign and ran."

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine