"I couldn't fully realize that I was free": Ukrainian soldier showed a terrible photo before and after Russian captivity
Volodymyr Tsema-Bursov, a soldier with the 56th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade, returned from captivity only a month ago. After the exchange, it turned out that the 41-year-old had lost 38 kilograms. He is currently undergoing treatment in a clinic in Poltava region.
Before the full-scale invasion of Russia, Volodymyr weighed 95 kg, Svoi.City magazine writes. In April 2022, he was taken prisoner by Russia, where he stayed for 20 months.
Now he weighs only 57 kilograms. "I have a "whole bunch" of diseases, including chronic gastritis in the acute stage, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, chronic prostatitis in remission, etc." Volodymyr says.
The man is an orchestra artist, he played in bands, orchestras, and the Mariupol Chamber Philharmonic; he worked on cruise ships.
In April 2022, while trying to get out of Mariupol, Volodymyr was captured by the Russians. He and other soldiers of the 56th Motorized Infantry Brigade were sent through Sartana to the notorious Olenivska colony.
"We are met by a 'warden', each of us says our surname, name and patronymic and runs to the barracks along the 'living corridor'. There are three on the left and the same number on the right. Each of them is holding an "instrument of labor": some have a truncheon or a rubber stick, others something like a cutting board or a strap with metal inserts. Each of them hits you wherever they can. And at the end you meet the last "warden". He jumps up and kicks you under the breath. He kicked so hard that almost everyone fell off their feet," Volodymyr says.
That evening alone, about 900 people were brought to Olenivka, although the colony was not designed for such a large number of people. "They slept tightly together, you couldn't even see the floor. If they more or less organized the food, there was a big problem with water. They brought a little water from somewhere, and we were told that "Ukraine cut off the water supply, so now you are sitting without water," the former prisoner recalls.
Volodymyr tells us about the constant interrogations and abuse in Olenivka. However, he was not there for long, and in April he was transferred to a prison in the Russian Federation. "The speakers were playing wartime songs such as 'Arise, Great Country', 'Victory Day', 'Dark Night' and, of course, the anthem of the Russian Federation. None of us knew then that we would be listening to these songs every day for 20 months. And again, constant beatings," the Ukrainian recalls.
"At the time, it seemed to me that this was not happening to me. I just could not fully realize that I was free. Then someone came into the bus and asked us to get off," Volodymyr said about the exchange.
As reported by OBOZ.UA, on February 8, Ukraine returned another 100 defenders from Russian captivity. The lists of those who have finally returned include border guards, the National Guard and the Armed Forces, and the defenders of Mariupol.
On January 31, the 50th prisoner exchange took place. 207 Ukrainians returned home, including the defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal, Kherson, and Zmeiny Island.