, 2022-10-02 10:06:56,
By LORI HINNANT, EVGENIY MALOLETKA and VASILISA STEPANENKO
IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — The first time the Russian soldiers caught him, they tossed him bound and blindfolded into a trench covered with wooden boards for days on end.
Then they beat him, over and over: Legs, arms, a hammer to the knees, all accompanied by furious diatribes against Ukraine. Before they let him go, they took away his passport and Ukrainian military ID — all he had to prove his existence — and made sure he knew exactly how worthless his life was.
“No one needs you,” the commander taunted. “We can shoot you any time, bury you a half-meter underground and that’s it.”
The brutal encounter at the end of March was just the start. Andriy Kotsar would be captured and tortured twice more by Russian forces in Izium, and the pain would be even worse.
Russian torture in Izium was arbitrary, widespread and absolutely routine for both civilians and soldiers throughout the city, an Associated Press investigation has found. While torture was also evident in Bucha, that devastated Kyiv suburb was only occupied for a month. Izium served as a hub for Russian soldiers for nearly seven months, during which they established torture sites everywhere.
Based on accounts of survivors and police, AP journalists located 10 torture sites in the town and gained access…
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