Ukrainian civilians forcibly deported to Russian prisons are regularly beaten and threatened with death, according to the independent Russian news site Meduza reported Friday in reference to former inmates.

Prison guards regularly subject Ukrainian detainees to beatings, shooting with air weapons, electric shocks and threats of execution, writes Meduza with reference to several detainees.

“We were turned into hunted animals,” said Aleksandar Tarasov, who organized rallies against the Russian occupation in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson before his arrest last March and transfer to a Russian prison.

Guards reportedly used similar torture tactics on Mariano García Calatajudo, a Spanish volunteer who was among several foreigners seized in a forced deportation from Ukraine.

About 100 peaceful Ukrainians are now being held in top-secret detention centers in the annexed Crimea, Meduza writes.

They are called volunteers, journalists, and soldiers.

Russian security experts cited by Meduza said Ukrainian civilians are being held captive to help Russia identify Ukrainian military informants and build its own intelligence network.

The Ukrainian military estimates the number of Ukrainian civilians held across Russia at more than 3,000, dozens of whom they claim died in captivity.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 created about 8 million refugees.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office has documented more than 80,000 facts of war crimes committed by Russian troops.

Moscow denies any allegations of wrongdoing.

Human rights groups and the UN regularly report on the illegal detention and torture of civilians in the years following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

As “Meduza” reports, the Russian authorities keep most of the detained Ukrainians in captivity, without charging them or classifying them as prisoners of war, and also without allowing them to contact their lawyers.

Several Ukrainian civilians, whom human rights activists call hostages, have been charged with terrorism in Russia.

Detentions in Crimea are handled by the Russian FSB counterintelligence, and the rest of the country by the military police of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, reports Meduza.

The Ministry of Defense of Russia, the FSB, the pre-trial detention center, the Kremlin and the Crimean authorities refused to comment, Meduza writes.

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