Leonid Nevzlin: “A year ago these days – from May 16 to 20, 2022 – its heroic defenders, military, civilians, members of the Azov battalion were leaving the besieged Azovstal… They were leaving on the signal of the military command of Ukraine after heavy fighting and selfless defense. The authorities called it an “evacuation,” not surrender. The whole world at the time was watching the tragedy with bated breath on live television.
More than 1,900 of the 2,439 people are still in captivity. Those who were able to be exchanged this year tell of the monstrous treatment of the captive defenders of Azovstal. What compliance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war is there! We are talking about torture, abuse, people are trying to break both physically and psychologically. The worst treatment is with the Azov regiment’s fighters, over 700 of them, and very few of them returned home during the past year in exchange.
Much of this horror cannot be made public today: we need to take care of those still in captivity. After all, every word spoken by those freed can hurt their comrades in captivity. The rage of impotence, the lack of information and communication with captured heroes, the seemingly complete helplessness of the UN and the Red Cross in the exchange of prisoners… It’s impossible to imagine how hard it is for the families and loved ones of the defenders of Mariupol. The world must be constantly reminded of this, we cannot let the release of the Azov defenders go off the news agenda!”.