‘They Took Me to Their Torture Chamber’: Victims of Putin’s War Crimes Go Public

April 20, 2023

A Ukrainian woman who was imprisoned in a "Russian torture chamber" provided harrowing details during a congressional hearing on Wednesday about the war crimes Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war forces have committed.

"They took me to their torture chamber and kept me there for five days. I was beaten. They forced me to undress, cutting my body with a knife and threatening to rape and kill me," said the 57-year-old woman, whose identity was kept hidden during a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The hearing marked the first time Ukrainian victims of Russia’s war spoke out before American lawmakers about the crimes being perpetrated by Moscow’s forces since the conflict began in February of last year. The hearing sets the stage for the United States to push for a war crimes tribunal against Putin and his allies.

The Ukrainian woman, one of two who testified at the hearing, recounted how Russian forces barged into her home and took her captive for five days.

"They put a handgun next to my head and shooting [sic] as if executing me. They also forced me to dig my own grave," she said, adding that there were others being held at the facility who were subjected to similar treatment.

"We need help from the United States and the rest of the world to hold accountable all those who committed those crimes," the victim said.

During the course of the war, Russia has bombed maternity hospitals, raped women in front of their children, dumped corpses in mass graves, and opened "torture chambers" throughout occupied territories, according to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"From the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Russian troops have been engaging in unspeakable acts against the Ukrainian people," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), the committee’s chairman. "Just as we held perpetrators of genocide to account in the Nuremburg trials following WWII, we must hold Putin and his soldiers accountable for the Russian horrors inflicted on Ukraine."