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Ukraine war prisoners struggle to rebuild lives

Updated : 2019-12-08 10:20:29

In the five years that eastern Ukraine has been embroiled in bloodshed, between 3,000 and 10,000 people, according to different estimates, survived unlawful detentions and captivity. Almost half of them were civilians. Armed groups from both sides of the conflict held them in underground dungeons and often used them to extort ransom from or somehow leverage the other side. Hundreds of people still remain locked up.

Maria Varfolomeieva poses for a photo at home in Kyiv, Ukraine. Varfolomeieva was a journalist when she was captured by separatist insurgents in Luhansk in January 2015. Varfolomeieva spent a year and a half in captivity and now studies psychology, hoping to help people who went through traumatic experiences. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Maria Varfolomeieva poses for a photo at home in Kyiv, Ukraine. Varfolomeieva was a journalist when she was captured by separatist insurgents in Luhansk in January 2015. Varfolomeieva spent a year and a half in captivity and now studies psychology, hoping to help people who went through traumatic experiences. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Anna Sergeyeva poses for a photo with her daughter in her flat in Kyiv, Ukraine. In May 2014, Sergeyeva was snatched from her apartment in Donetsk by Russia-backed separatists and was being beaten and stabbed for six days before they let her go. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Anna Sergeyeva poses for a photo with her daughter in her flat in Kyiv, Ukraine. In May 2014, Sergeyeva was snatched from her apartment in Donetsk by Russia-backed separatists and was being beaten and stabbed for six days before they let her go. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Vitaly Paraskun demonstrates a photo of himself, taken right after he was released from of captivity, in a church in Kyiv where he serves, Ukraine. Paraskun was captured in October 2014 by a gang of Cossacks in the Luhansk region, where he, an Evangelical priest, was doing missionary work. Paraskun spent 199 days in an unheated basement and was regularly tortured. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Vitaly Paraskun demonstrates a photo of himself, taken right after he was released from of captivity, in a church in Kyiv where he serves, Ukraine. Paraskun was captured in October 2014 by a gang of Cossacks in the Luhansk region, where he, an Evangelical priest, was doing missionary work. Paraskun spent 199 days in an unheated basement and was regularly tortured. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Tetyana, last name withheld for safety reasons, kisses the ashes of her husband goodbye in Kyiv, Ukraine. Tetyana's husband Alexander passed away a year after returning from captivity in the Donetsk region, where he was held by pro-Russian militias in 2018. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Tetyana, last name withheld for safety reasons, kisses the ashes of her husband goodbye in Kyiv, Ukraine. Tetyana's husband Alexander passed away a year after returning from captivity in the Donetsk region, where he was held by pro-Russian militias in 2018. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Anatoliy Polyakov, a Russian national, who participated in the Maidan revolution in 2013, travelled to eastern Ukraine in March 2015 and was captured and held by pro-Russian militias for almost a year. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Anatoliy Polyakov, a Russian national, who participated in the Maidan revolution in 2013, travelled to eastern Ukraine in March 2015 and was captured and held by pro-Russian militias for almost a year. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Bogdan Sergiets, former resident of Donetsk, shows a swastika scar on his back in a photographer's studio in Kyiv, Ukraine. Sergiets was captured by Russia-backed rebels in his workplace in Donetsk, he spent 10 hours in captivity, tortured and beaten, and his captors engraved the swastika on his back. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Bogdan Sergiets, former resident of Donetsk, shows a swastika scar on his back in a photographer's studio in Kyiv, Ukraine. Sergiets was captured by Russia-backed rebels in his workplace in Donetsk, he spent 10 hours in captivity, tortured and beaten, and his captors engraved the swastika on his back. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Olga, last name withheld for safety reasons, poses with a window frame in a park in Kyiv, Ukraine. After being snatched by pro-separatist militias from her hometown of Alchevsk in August 2014, Olga survived three mock executions and was rescued by her girlfriend 10 days later. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Olga, last name withheld for safety reasons, poses with a window frame in a park in Kyiv, Ukraine. After being snatched by pro-separatist militias from her hometown of Alchevsk in August 2014, Olga survived three mock executions and was rescued by her girlfriend 10 days later. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Serhii Zakharov, former resident of Donetsk, poses in his apartment, which he uses as a drawing studio in Kyiv, Ukraine. Zakharov was detained in Donetsk by pro-Russia militias in August 2014, unhappy with his caricatures on them, and continued to draw sketches for the whole month he had spent in captivity. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Serhii Zakharov, former resident of Donetsk, poses in his apartment, which he uses as a drawing studio in Kyiv, Ukraine. Zakharov was detained in Donetsk by pro-Russia militias in August 2014, unhappy with his caricatures on them, and continued to draw sketches for the whole month he had spent in captivity. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Tetyana Borisenko, former medical worker for Ukrainian volunteers 'Aydar Battalion', holds the Ukrainian flag she brought to the school in her home in Voznesenske village, Ukraine. Borisenko was captured by Russia-backed separatists in the Luhansk region in September 2015. She was able to secretly keep a Ukrainian flag with signatures of 12 people she was in captivity with for a month. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Tetyana Borisenko, former medical worker for Ukrainian volunteers 'Aydar Battalion', holds the Ukrainian flag she brought to the school in her home in Voznesenske village, Ukraine. Borisenko was captured by Russia-backed separatists in the Luhansk region in September 2015. She was able to secretly keep a Ukrainian flag with signatures of 12 people she was in captivity with for a month. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Volodymyr Zhemchugov shows his hand prostheses as he speaks to a photographer in Kyiv, Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels took Zhemchugov captive in the Luhansk region after he was severely injured in a land mine explosion, losing his hands and eyesight. Zhemchugov spent almost a year in detention. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
Volodymyr Zhemchugov shows his hand prostheses as he speaks to a photographer in Kyiv, Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels took Zhemchugov captive in the Luhansk region after he was severely injured in a land mine explosion, losing his hands and eyesight. Zhemchugov spent almost a year in detention. (AP Photo/Zoya Shu)
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