Sep 14, 2022, 6:51 AM
Humanitarian aid is distributed to citizens after the Ukrainian army recaptured the town of Balakliya, Ukraine, on September 11, 2022. Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Balakliya, a town in the eastern Kharkiv region, was recaptured by Ukraine on September 8.
A regional official said the town's police station was used as a "torture camp" by Russians.
Troops would keep locals captive for weeks and torture them with electricity, the official said.
A Ukrainian official said Tuesday that Russian soldiers used a police station in a recently recaptured town as a "torture camp" where they tormented people with electric shocks.
Balakliya, a town in the eastern Kharkiv region with a population of around 25,000 people, had been occupied by Russian forces for more than six months, the Associated Press reported.
It was recaptured by Ukraine on September 8 as part of a lightning counteroffensive that prompted Russian troops to flee as fast as they could.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Serhii Bolvinov, the deputy police chief of the Kharkiv region, said that the town's police headquarters were used as "torture camps" by occupying Russian soldiers for months.
"During the occupation, the racists always held at least 40 people captive, feeding them twice a day with porridge without anything," Bolvinov said in the post.
"According to witnesses, they were tortured in different ways," Bolvinov added. "I will not describe all the tortures, I will only say that the 'easiest' was when they received electric shocks."
Insider was unable to independently verify his claim.
But a Balakliya local, identified only as Artem, told the BBC that he was among the residents who were held in the police station. He said he was detained after the Russians found a picture of his brother, who is a soldier.
He told the BBC that he was kept at the station for more than 40 days and was tortured with electricity.
"They made me hold two wires. There was an electric generator. The faster it went, the higher the voltage. They said, 'if you let it go, you are finished,'" Artem told the BBC.
"Then they started asking questions. They said I was lying, and they started spinning it even more and the voltage increased," he added.
Tatiana, a school principal who was also held at the police station for three days, told the BBC that she regularly heard screams from other cells.
Officials told the BBC that locals were scared to even pass the station, in case they were grabbed by Russian soldiers.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on Tuesday that Ukraine had retaken around 4,000 square kilometers of territory in the region.
He also called on officials to restore normalcy in these areas, adding: "Remnants of occupiers and sabotage groups are being detected, collaborators are being detained and full security is being restored."
Copyright © 2022 Insider Inc.