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Russians admit they are holding him without any grounds — wife of civilian abducted from Bucha

For over 2 years, the Russians have been unreasonably detaining the abducted Bucha resident Oleksandr Kurdin. His story, as an illegally imprisoned civilian, is recounted by his wife, Iryna Shvets.

Russians admit they are holding him without any grounds — wife of civilian abducted from Bucha
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Oleksandr Kurdin is a resident of Bucha who was abducted by Russians on 22 March 2022.

Oleksandr stayed in Bucha during the occupation and helped women and children survive in the Russian-occupied city. The occupiers handcuffed the man, dragged him to an armoured personnel carrier and took him to an unknown destination.

What is currently known about Oleksandr Kurdin?

Iryna Shvets: The personal account of Oleksandr at the Coordination Headquarters contains information indicating that he is currently in SIZO-1 in Rostov-on-Don. There is no further information on how he got there from the Bryansk Region. Back in May 2023, Russian media reported that 700 people from that prison had been transferred to various detention centers across Russia.

Oleksandr is being held there without any status, as a civilian. I have information that they want to transfer him to another detention center. That is why the Russians do not give him any status. They transfer those who are not on trial and do not have any charges against them.

I appealed to the Russian Ministry of Defence. They replied that they did not know the person I was looking for. When I filed a complaint against them, I received an immediate response. They said that investigations were underway into Oleksandr’s legal status under Articles 4 and 5 of the Geneva Convention.

The Russians claim that he was detained for «opposing the special military operation.» Oleksandr has an athletic build and tattoos. When the occupiers kidnapped him, they shouted that he was an «Azov».

Read also: Is it possible to bring those responsible for abductions of civilians to justice?

«From April to October, I didn’t know where he was»

Iryna Shvets: Before the war, Oleksandr worked in a notary’s office and dealt with cryptocurrencies. He loved being at home and cooking.

On February 21, he left Kyiv for Bucha, to his apartment, to water the flowerpots and exercise. He said he would stay there for a while and return. On the night of February 23-24, a full-scale war broke out. In the morning, I tried to call a taxi to go to Bucha, but no car was available, and I never got there.

I asked Oleksandr to leave through the green corridor. He replied that many women and children were staying in the city. He was bringing them water and bread. They were all in the basement of one of the houses where they were hiding. He said that they came to his house twice to check his documents. The last time, on March 22, he went outside and was handcuffed.

I learned about Oleksandr’s abduction on April 3. His friend, who was an eyewitness, called me and said that Sasha had been taken captive. I wrote a statement to the police. In Kyiv, I gave them his toothbrush and a DNA sample. In October, I got through to the National Information Bureau and was told that Oleksandr had been confirmed as a prisoner of war by the aggressor country. From April to October, I did not know where he was.

In January 2023, I received a message signed «Yours.» It was a photo of Oleksandr. That was the first time I saw Sasha in prison, in his prison uniform. Russians post these photos on their websites. Then our people find them, usually within a week or two.

On the desire to prove that Iryna and Oleksandr are cohabitants

Iryna Shvets: The first year was very difficult. In the second year, I started dealing with paperwork and applying to many places. You need to be communicative for this. It was not difficult for me to interact with the Ministry of Reintegration or other government agencies.

The only thing is that we planned a wedding for June 2022, but Sasha was taken prisoner in March. Therefore, I have the status of a civilian wife. I was told that I needed an act of cohabitation. I went through an additional procedure with my neighbors and provided this act. Everything seemed to be arranged, and they said there would be payments for Sasha for 2022-2023. However, before the new year, a law appeared requiring me to go to court with the cohabitation certificate.

Read also: What to do when a loved one goes missing?

«The Russians admit that they are holding him without any reason»

Iryna Shvets: A volunteer, Dmytro Levitsky, managed to get out of the Bryansk region, from the Novozybkov SIZO-2, where Sasha was held for the first year. I asked him if the name Oleksandr Kurdin meant anything to him. He replied that it did. He told me that on March 23, they were taken to Gostomel, on March 24, they were already in Belarus, and on March 25, they were «harshly treated» in Novozybkov. I asked him what he meant by that. Dmytro replied that he would not tell me because I was a woman. Later, he published an article in which I read about this detention center and understood what the word meant.

They were not in the same cell, but in the corridor during roll call, Dmytro always heard Oleksandr.

I am not allowed to correspond with Sasha because it is allowed only for those who are on trial and have lawyers. The Russians admit that they are holding him without any grounds. Parcels cannot be sent to him either.

Oleksandr’s case was transferred to the National Police. They call me and ask what I know about him. The same happened with the Red Cross and the UN. I gave them information about his whereabouts. The Red Cross does not help; they say that the Russians do not let them in.

Read also: Accusations of «terrorism» and a plot for propaganda TV: Russians kidnap a Melitopol civilian

In times of war, the program «Free our relatives» tells the stories of people, cities, villages, and entire regions that have been captured by Russian invaders. We discuss the war crimes committed by the Kremlin and its troops against the Ukrainian people.

The program is hosted by Ihor Kotelyanets and Anastasia Bagalika.

This publication is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the framework of the Human Rights in Action Program implemented by Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. Opinions, conclusions and recommendations presented in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government. The contents are the responsibility of the authors.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience, and advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity. USAID has partnered with Ukraine since 1992, providing more than $9 billion in assistance. USAID’s current strategic priorities include strengthening democracy and good governance, promoting economic development and energy security, improving health care systems, and mitigating the effects of the conflict in the east.

For additional information about USAID in Ukraine, please call USAID’s Development Outreach and Communications Office at: +38 (044) 521-5753. You may also visit our website: http://www.usaid.gov/ukraine or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USAIDUkraine.


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