Russian forces used torture and kept a famous Mariupol medic in ‘inhumane’ conditions, the survivor of the key port city’s siege has told Euronews.
Yuliia “Taira” Paievska was a medical volunteer in the battle for the Ukrainian city who famously chronicled its events with a body camera attached to her uniform.
Once Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, she headed to the front line to aid wounded soldiers and civilians. Talking to Euronews during a trip to Brussels, she recalled the horrors of her ordeal.
‘Russians have no pity’
“I saw Russians erasing a city of half a million people, step-by-step with their airstrikes. It was unthinkable and it really was a continuous shelling of infrastructure, residential quarters and houses,” Paievska said.
“And I saw a huge quantity of wounded people — civilians — and amongst them children. Many of them had (injured limbs that had) to be amputated. So it was very difficult, extremely heavy. And I saw people dying, so it was very hard.”
She eventually managed to smuggle out hours of video footage from the besieged city with the help of journalists just before she was captured by pro-Russian forces.
But she says three months in Russian captivity traumatised her and that it was the hardest time of her life.
“It was really inhumane because of the captivity with torture applied and special cells equipped with the equipment for executions to torture people,” Paievska recalled.
“So it is very important, and I would like to warn you about the problem the world can face if we don’t stop it [the war] together.”
“The Russians have no pity. They are merciless. And they want to impose Russia’s will on the whole of Europe. That’s what they were telling me while I was in the captivity,” she emphasised.
Strength of women in war comes to the fore
Paievska also highlighted the strength of Ukrainian women who still remain in the occupied territories.
“A lot of woman are under pressure. The invaders threaten them, even with kidnapping their children and sending them to Russia to new adoptive parents, despite the fact that their real parents are alive. So sometimes women are forced to collaborate with the occupying power,” Paievska said.
Paievska added that during her visit to Brussels, she met a group of Hungarians and warned them not to trust news coming out of Russia.
“There was a sports delegation coming back from a Hungarian competition, and we heard from them that Russian propaganda is extremely powerful in Hungary and so what I would like to say is: listen to me and don’t trust Russians because they are constantly lying.”
“And they are explaining that Ukraine does not exist, and they can say the same about your country if and when the Russian tanks enter your territory. So nobody can let that happen,” she concluded.