Steel hell survivors humiliated by Vladimir Putin’s troops: Mariupol refugees were subjected to humiliating interrogations, labeled ‘scum’ and had their underwear checked by Russian soldiers before being freed
- Evacuees from Mariupol suffered humiliating searches by Russian soldiers
- Troops checked civilians’ underwear and called them ‘Ukrainian scum’
- About 156 people were rescued during a mercy mission this weekend by the Red Cross
- The survivors spent more than two months locked up in a steel factory
The Mariupol refugees were subjected to humiliating interrogation by Russian troops before finally being freed from the steel mill where they had been hiding for two months.
Exhausted survivors told the Daily Mail they were called ‘Ukrainian scum’, had their underwear checked and were forced to give their fingerprints at a Russian checkpoint before being allowed to board Red Cross buses.
Dozens of refugees who arrived at a UN aid center in the southern town of Zaporizhzhia yesterday also gave horrific accounts of their time cowering in bunkers at the Azovstal steelworks.
Tonight there were fears for hundreds of civilians still trapped at the Soviet-era site as Russian bombs rained down in a relentless barrage.
Around 156 survivors were rescued during a mercy mission over the weekend after the Red Cross managed to secure a ceasefire.
A man greets Mariupol evacuees Anna Zaitseva and her six-month-old son Svyatoslav at a treatment area in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
But it emerged that part of the deal with the Kremlin meant evacuees had to be ‘screened’ by brutal Russian soldiers in the occupied town of Bezimenne, 30 miles east of Mariupol, before being released. released into territory under Ukrainian control.
One survivor, Elina Vasylivna, 54, told the Daily Mail: ‘They took our fingerprints, took pictures. My head was spinning.
“The militia filled out a questionnaire and asked us what we thought of the war, of our government. They called us “Ukrainian scum”.
“Our phones were confiscated and they did a personal examination of our underwear. Our belongings were inspected – it was like a totalitarian state.
She said life there was ‘hell’, adding: ‘I would never wish that on my worst enemy in my life. It’s just a horror, a nightmare.
Miss Vasylivna said she hid in a bunker with members of her family, including her 82-year-old mother. Starved by hunger, they decided to race desperately to scavenge food from a bombed-out depot near the steelworks.
Pro-Russian forces fire a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher near a steel plant in Mariupol
She said: “We went to get food on the floor. My son brought back cookies mixed with cement and glass. But we swept it up and ate them because we hadn’t seen bread for six weeks.
A 47-year-old woman who got off one of the buses but refused to give her name said: “There is no water, no electricity, no gas. Incessant bombing, planes. Everything was falling from the sky. We We were in the basement for a month and everything was shaking, the ground was constantly shaking.
“I still have a son there inside Azovstal. My brother is dead. Now the torture has begun for me. We just wait, worried for the civilians, for the children left behind. All the horror they go through is very scary.
Anna Zaitseva, who arrived in Zaporizhzhia with her six-month-old son Sviatoslav, said: “There was a moment when we lost hope, we thought everyone had forgotten about us. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us.
Smoke rises above a factory of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southern port city of Mariupol
However, fears were growing for those who were stuck at the steelworks last night.
Tonight, Ukrainian sources said further Russian attacks had killed two women at the site.
Moscow justified its attack by accusing kyiv of abusing the weekend ceasefire to allow hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers to reinforce their defensive positions at the site.
Mykhailo Vershynin, Mariupol’s police chief, said Russian troops were “storming the factory in several places”.
Pascal Hundt, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, also expressed his concern, saying: “We would have hoped that many more people could have joined the convoy and walked out of hell.”