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Investigation finds ‘torture pits’ on Russian military training grounds

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Torture pits for offenders have been discovered on Russian military training grounds, Russian outlet Vazhnyye Istorii (VI) and Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) reported on Oct. 24.

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The Russian Security Council’s Deputy Chairman and former president, Dmitry Medvedev, inspected two Russian military training grounds in Prudboy, Volgograd Oblast and Totsky, Orenburg Oblast this summer, where volunteers were trained before being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Prudboy, considered one of Russia's best training grounds, was also inspected by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Military personnel undergoing training at the time of the inspection visits informed VI and CIT about the torture "pits" on the grounds. Their accounts were corroborated by satellite imagery.

A soldier named Sergei, claimed that the training sessions were a mere formality. Phones were confiscated and those who protested were put in the pits. He repeatedly tried to file a report to be released and exempted from service but was threatened with physical violence and placed in a pit, deprived of food or water.

Several of his comrades who were caught drinking were subjected to the same treatment. The soldiers were first beaten and then placed in the pits where they were kept for several days to a week. They were given food once a day, and no medical care was provided.

One of Sergei's comrades died after being placed in such a pit, although there's no independent confirmation of this.

Read also: Russia threatening Black Sea blockade, poor showing for RU Africa summit, Shoigu in NK

Sergei claimed to have personally seen two "pits," and satellite images taken in early August confirmed this, showing two deep pits near the tent camp, along with paths leading to them from the camp entrance in the fence.

It's worth noting that the April 2023 image did not show any pits or pathways.

The "pits" were unlikely to have any practical or training purpose. If they were meant to dispose of waste from the compound, they wouldn't be so close to the camp, which is against Russian military regulations.

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In September 1998, the mother of a 19-year-old Russian serviceman, Alexei Rybakov, received a zinc coffin containing her son's body without being informed of his death. Rybakov died on the same training ground: he was covered with dirt in a pit similar to those where volunteers are now held before being sent to war against Ukraine.

A Russian military defector named Viktor, who trained at the Totsky training ground this summer, also spoke to the media. He said that volunteers who "violated the statute" were beaten, handcuffed, and threatened with the pits.

Read also: On Russia’s new ‘volunteer battalions’

Viktor didn't see the "pits" with his own eyes, but he heard how his comrades were threatened with being "put in a pit" for violating the rules.

Satellite images of the Totsky training area also revealed two pits near the field camp, but experts couldn't conclusively determine their purpose.

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Viktor said that a group of "close associates of the unit commander" dealt with troublemakers at Totsky. Those who drank or broke the rules were caught, beaten, handcuffed, and held until they sobered up.

Sometimes, after being beaten, soldiers were thrown into pits and covered with a lid.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine