A 20-year-old Azerbaijani university student is describing near-daily beatings during his time as a prisoner of Russian forces near Mariupol, Ukraine last month.
Huseyn Abdullayev, who was studying at Mariupol State University when Russia invaded Ukraine, tells VOA Azerbaijani he was held from March 17 until April 12 after Russian military personnel kidnapped him at a military post west of Mariupol in Berdyansk.
Abdullayev said that after he was taken, “They tied my hands and covered my head with my jacket so that I could not see anything. Then they threw me in a truck and took me to prison. They spoke Russian.”
Abdullayev said he was tortured while in captivity and accused of being a Ukrainian soldier.
“They used electric shock (baton), and then I was beaten. They were Russians, and there were Azerbaijanis and Chechens among them. First, they used electric shock, then beat me with a wooden board and trampled my feet. I was beaten almost every day. They asked me whether I am not a student but a Ukrainian soldier.”
Abdullayev said that he was released after Chechen commanders pardoned him for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“We were eight people. I was the only citizen of Azerbaijan. We were all captured by Russian soldiers of Chechen origin and tortured,” he added.
Huseyn Abdullayev was seen seated in a car in a video released on social media on April 13 by an Azerbaijani volunteer in Mariupol. “Student Huseyn Abdullayev, who was held captive in Mariupol by the Kadyrovs, is now free,” stated the volunteer, identified as Aykhan Hajibeyli.
The volunteer was referring to forces under the control of Ramzan Kadyrov, a leader from the Chechnya region of the Russian Federation and a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Hajibeyli added that other Azerbaijanis are in Mariupol and other parts of Ukraine, but that their fate is not known.
Officials from Azerbaijan have yet to comment on the situation.
Huseyn Abdullayev's father, Amin Abdullayev, who lives in Azerbaijan's Neftchala region, told VOA Azerbaijani that his son's health is critical.
“My son was kept in a freezing place and tortured. This is horrible. One of the torturers was an Azerbaijani. They gave him only dry bread and water. He lost a lot of weight. He was oppressed. They beat him every day,” he said.
Amin Abdullayev added he only spoke to his son twice throughout his son’s captivity, on March 19 and March 25.
The father also thanked the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, along with other Azerbaijani officials, for their help in releasing his son.
Amin Abdullayev said, “I sent a telegram to the president at 10 o'clock. At about 1:30 in the afternoon on the same day, the hostage-takers called and said that we would release your son tomorrow.” VOA could not independently verify that information.
According to Amin Abdullayev, an agreement was reached to hand over his son to the members of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Ukraine.
Huseyn Abdullayev’s family told VOA Azerbaijani that he is now in Lviv and plans to go to Poland Tuesday as he makes his way home.
This story originated in the Azerbaijani service.