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Hell of Olenivka: Former PoWs From Olenivka Prison Shared Their Stories With the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation


Olenivka. A year ago, on the night of 29 July 2022, an explosion rang out in the former penal colony where the Russians kept Ukrainian prisoners of war from Azovstal. More than 50 people died and more than 70 were seriously injured. By its “traditions”, Russia attempted to put the blame for the crime on Ukraine.

In the past, a correctional penal colony was located in Olenivka, a temporarily occupied village in Donetsk region. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, the enemy has been bringing prisoners here. Not only military personnel, but also civilians who tried to escape from the occupation or actively helped their compatriots.

The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation has many stories of civilians who survived captivity in Olenivka. Most of them were imprisoned for more than 100 days.

Hanna Vorosheva: “I am a “peaceful resident” [i.e. a civilian]. I heard this wording once and from then on, I always said it everywhere. Because when they hear “civilian”, they think of police officers or former employees of the prosecutor’s office.” According to her, women were the harshest jail keepers. Hanna’s story can be found here:

 The Museum of Civilian Voices – “I encountered some women as jail keepers whose level of brutality could not be compared to that of man jail wardens”

Kostiantyn Velychko: “Interrogations. Squatting. Beating. Then a cell, the size of which was 3 by 4 metres, and twenty or more people in it. You have to sleep for 3-4 hours in shifts, because not everyone can lie down at one time. Someone was sitting, and someone was trying to lie down. Some inmates were sitting on the table, and others were under the table.” Listen to Kostiantyn’s story in order to learn how the invaders created fake news for the Red Cross and television by involving prisoners.

The Museum of Civilian Voices – “When a person’s body started turning blue from beating, they gave aromatic ammonia! That was the “treatment”

Serhiy Lin is a volunteer who, even while in this concentration camp, managed to save the life of another prisoner. The one he saved is an honoured boxing coach of Ukraine.

“He felt bad. I started doing a resuscitation massage. We were trying to resuscitate him for two and a half hours. He was taken to the hospital. A month later, they returned him to Olenivka,” says the volunteer. You can find out how Serhiy got out of there from his story here:

 The Museum of Civilian Voices – “In the prison they treated us really very harsh: some were beaten with a chain on the kidneys and others were kicked in their knees”

Yevhen Mezhevyi is the father of three children, whom he raises alone, and a former military man. While the father was in captivity, his children were taken to Russia to be given up for adoption. Yevhen spent 45 days in Olenivka.

“The prison cells were tight. I learned to sleep standing on one leg. Then I signed up for a job — digging the garden, cleaning the toilets and the yard, and repairing the premises. I could earn at least a pack of cigarettes or a piece of lard,” says Yevhen. You can listen to his story about how he managed to get out of there and get his kids back here:

 The Museum of Civilian Voices – “I begged them to tell my children that I am alive”

Every story about the war matters. To keep the memory for a better future, share your story on the portal of the Museum of Civilian Voices 
 Home page – The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation
or via a toll-free hotline 0 (800) 509 001.