A Ukrainian journalist and the Kharkiv region’s police have disclosed horrific details about the seven Sri Lankans who were allegedly captured and tortured by Russian soldiers in the Kharkiv region near the Russian border where there has been intense fighting for months.
In a Twitter thread, Maria Romanenko, a journalist in Kyiv, said the seven Sri Lankans who were in Ukraine for work and studies, were kidnapped by Russian, “beaten” and “had their nails torn off”, and were “forced to work for free (clean)”.
According to Romanenko, the 06 men and 01 woman, all aged 20-40, had arrived in Ukraine nearly three weeks before the all-out Russian invasion and rented a house in Kupiansk, which was occupied a few days ago.
They had been hiding in their house for some time until they decided to try and flee into Kharkiv, she added.
“However, they were stopped at the first Russian checkpoint that they tried to cross. The Russians blindfolded them and took them in an unknown direction (later turned out to be Vovchansk, also occupied until a few days ago),” Romanenko’s Twitter thread read further.
Citing information from the Kharkiv region’s police, Romanenko said, “After the areas were liberated by Ukraine, the 7 Sri Lankans tried to walk to Kharkiv again. When they found a hotel on their way, the security guard there took them in, looked after them, and called the police. They’re now safe, the police are investigating their case.”
Meanwhile, Serhii Bolvinov, head of the Investigative Department of the National Police in the Kharkiv region, also reported details of seven Sri Lankan citizens who had been in captivity and managed to free themselves after the liberation of the oblast.
Quoting Bolvinov, the Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda said that “Sri Lankan citizens were kept in inhumane conditions there; they were forced to work as cleaners.”
According to Bolvinov, the woman was kept in solitary confinement for two months.
“Two of them had their nails torn off; one was hit on the head with a door. Since the Ruscists do not speak English, foreigners never understood what the Russians wanted from them, and what they were tortured for. The only thing they understood was that the Russians said ‘money’ during the torture. Judging from this, the second army of the world demanded money from the detained foreigners from Sri Lanka.”
Following the liberation of Vovchansk, the foreigners again decided to go to Kharkiv on foot, on the way they met a hotel guard, who sheltered them and informed Ukrainian police about it, Bolvinov added.
Reports revealed that investigations into this case are ongoing and that the police have contacted the Embassy of Sri Lanka, and the victims have been provided with safe and proper living conditions.
On 16 September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that seven Sri Lankan citizens who had been held captive by the Russian soldiers since March were rescued in the liberated territories of the Kharkiv region.