In Ukraine, families are living with the nightmare of vanished relatives

Four months ago, in the mud and blood and blasted haze left by the Russian retreat in Ukraine, we stumbled into a town where we discovered that men had been abducted, tortured, detained and, in some cases, disappeared.

This was Trostyanets, in Sumy region, along the border with Russia. It was under occupation by Moscow’s forces for a month. In the town’s railway station, encircled by a moonscape of beached tanks and empty ammunition boxes, survivors took us to an underground torture chamber below the passenger terminal where they had been held. Their blood still smeared the walls.

Residents and the police force said that while several people survived that experience, there were still several others who had been “disappeared” during that time and were still missing.


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