World 'I thought I was going to die': Abuses widespread in Ukraine
A failed war helped bring down the Soviet Union. Now Putin's failing war in Ukraine might set Russia up for a bleak future.
Afghanistan's role in the Soviet collapse suggests how the Ukraine war may hasten change in Russia or deepen the dynamics that secured Putin's power.As Russia has struggled to make progress invading Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has made veiled but pointed threats suggesting he could deploy nuclear weapons.
KYSELIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — For 10 days, Alesha Babenko was locked in a basement and regularly beaten by Russian soldiers. Bound, blindfolded and threatened with electric shocks, the 27-year-old pleaded for them to stop.
“I thought I was going to die,” he told The Associated Press.
Kherson Diary: No power, no water but the joy just flows
KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — During the long, long months when Russian forces were in charge, the national flag was contraband. Only rarely and in the privacy of his own home did Yevhen Teliezhenko dare bring out his prized possession, the banned yellow-and-blue of Ukraine. Now the Russians are gone, forced out of his southern city of Kherson, and the 73-year-old is making up for all that lost time. He and his wife are driving around the city, flying their flag and — with the enthusiasm of teenagers — asking Ukrainian soldiers who liberated them to autograph it.
In September, Babenko and his 14-year-old nephew, Vitaliy Mysharskiy, were arrested by Russian soldiers who occupied his village of Kyselivka in Ukraine's southern. They had been taking photos of destroyed tanks and sending them to the Ukrainian army.
Seated this week on a bench outside his home, Babenko was visibly shaken as he recounted the trauma of being thrown into a car, driven to the city of Kherson and interrogated until he confessed.
As violence escalates in Ukraine, abuses perpetrated by Russia have become widespread, according toand human rights groups. The situation is particularly concerning in the Kherson region, where hundreds of villages, including the main city, It was one of Ukraine’s biggest successes in the nearly 9-month-old war, dealing another stinging blow to the Kremlin.
Russian strikes on Ukraine spotlight Moldova’s energy woes
CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Massive blackouts that temporarily hit more than a half-dozen cities across Moldova this week highlighted the impact Russia's war in Ukraine is having on Europe's poorest country. The power outages happened Tuesday as the Russian military pounded infrastructure targets across Ukraine, which borders Moldova. Less than a week earlier, the European Union pledged 250 million euros (nearly $260 million) to help the former Soviet republic tackle a severe energy crisis after Russia halved its natural gas supply.Moldova became a candidate for EU membership in June, on the same day neighboring Ukraine did.
The U.N. says it is attempting to verify allegations of nearly 90 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions in Kherson, and is trying to understand if the scale of abuse is larger than already documented.
Ukrainian officials have opened more than 430 war crimes cases from the Kherson region and are investigating four alleged torture sites, Denys Monastyrskyi, Ukraine's minister of internal affairs, told state television.
Authorities have found 63 bodies bearing signs of torture near Kherson, Monastyrskyi said. He did not elaborate, saying the investigation into potential war crimes in the region was just beginning.
On Wednesday, Associated Press reporters saw the inside of one of these alleged torture sites in a police-run detention center in Kherson.
Russian soldiers appeared to have left hastily, leaving flags and portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin scattered under broken glass on the floor. Neighbors described a steady flow of people in handcuffs being brought in, with bags over their heads. The ones who were allowed to leave walked out without shoes or personal effects.
Where's Putin? Leader leaves bad news on Ukraine to others
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — When Russia's top military brass announced in a televised appearance that they were pulling troops out of the key city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, one man missing from the room was President Vladimir Putin. As Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Sergei Surovikin, Russia’s chief commander in Ukraine, stiffly recited the reasons for the retreat in front of the cameras on Nov. 9, Putin was touring a neurological hospital in Moscow, watching a doctor perform brain surgery. © Provided by The Associated Press FILE - In this handout photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, Nov.
Maksym Nehrov spent his 45th birthday in the jail, detained by Russians because he was a former soldier.
“The most terrifying thing was to hear other people being tortured all day,” he said.
Walking along the corridor of the now-empty prison, he recalled that every time he somehow disobeyed the Russians they would hit him with an electric shock to the neck and head.
Throughout the war, liberated Ukrainian villages have revealed thousands of human rights atrocities perpetrated by Russian soldiers. Bodies were strewn acrossand Irpin, suburbs of the capital, Kyiv, after Russia withdrew in April.
Rights groups say it's too early to know if the abuses in Kherson were on the same level as in other liberated areas but that it's very likely.
'I thought I was going to die': Abuses widespread in Ukraine
KYSELIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — For 10 days, Alesha Babenko was locked in a basement and regularly beaten by Russian soldiers. Bound, blindfolded and threatened with electric shocks, the 27-year-old pleaded for them to stop. “I thought I was going to die,” he told The Associated Press. In September, Babenko and his 14-year-old nephew, Vitaliy Mysharskiy, were arrested by Russian soldiers who occupied his village of Kyselivka in Ukraine's southern“I thought I was going to die,” he told The Associated Press.
“In all occupied areas that we’ve been able to access, we’ve documented incidents of torture, extrajudicial killings and torture. And we’re very concerned Kherson will be no different,” Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the AP.
The group has documented unlawful attacks on civilians, torture and forcible disappearances of civilians in occupied areas around the country.
Since Russian forces pulled back on Nov. 10, residents in the nondescript town of Kyselivka who endured abuses are struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives.
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After Babenko and his nephew returned home — at a time when his village was still under Russian occupation — he was too terrified to leave the house. He was haunted by what he'd endured. While detained, Russian soldiers interrogated him repeatedly, kicking and punching his ribs, nose and stomach almost daily, he said.
His young nephew escaped such abuse but was told he would become a Russian citizen and be protected. The two were released after confessing to what they’d done on video, they said.
But others in their village haven’t been as lucky.
Two months ago, the godfather of Alla Protsenko’s son was taken from his home by Russian soldiers and hasn’t been seen since. Walking through the partially destroyed school where she used to teach before the Russians turned it into an army base, Protsenko said she has combed the country looking for him, to no avail.
The last time the 52-year-old saw him was on her birthday, one week before he disappeared.
“I remember him smiling as if to say: ‘Hold on, everything will be fine,’" she said. “For me, he is still alive. I can’t accept that now (perhaps), he is gone.”
Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at
US aid to Ukraine puts pressure on Pentagon's arms stockpile .
WASHINGTON (AP) — The intense firefight over Ukraine has the Pentagon rethinking its weapons stockpiles. If another major war broke out today, would the United States have enough ammunition to fight? It’s a question confronting Pentagon planners, not only as they aim to supply Ukraine for a war with Russia that could stretch years longer, but also as they look ahead to a potential conflict with China. Russia is firing as many as 20,000 rounds a day, ranging from bullets for automatic rifles to truck-sized cruise missiles.