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Ukraine prisoner of war shows shocking toll captivity had on his body

Jess Hardiman

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| Last updated 

Ukraine prisoner of war shows shocking toll captivity had on his body

‘Terrifying’ photos of a Ukrainian prisoner of war had revealed the physical toll captivity had on his body. 

The images, which were shared by the Ukrainian defence ministry yesterday (Friday 24 September), show the harrowing effects that Russian captivity had on soldier Mykhailo Dianov. 

In the first photo, Dianov looks fit and healthy as he poses in military gear. 

But the more recent photo, apparently taken after his release from capitivity, shows the fighter’s diminished frame, which appears skeletal, gaunt and visibly weaker – his right arm contorted as if bent. 

“Ukrainian soldier Mykhailo Dianov is among the fortunate ones: in contrast with some of his fellow POWs, he survived Russian captivity,” Ukraine’s defence ministry wrote. 

“This is how Russia ‘adheres’ to the Geneva Conventions. This is how Russia continues the shameful legacy of Nazism.” 

CNN noted it has been unable to verify the authenticity of the images, which have been widely shared on social media – including by US-based Ukrainian journalist Ostap Yarysh, who posted a slightly different 'before' image to illustrate the transformation, writing on Twitter: “Mykhailo Dianov, a musician and a Ukrainian soldier recently released in a prisoner exchange. First photo — Mykhailo during the siege of Azovstal. Second photo — Mykhailo after Russian captivity. I have no words. Terrifying.” 

Illia Ponomarkko, Defense Reporter for the Kyiv Independent, also posted: “Hey, people, do you remember this guy Mykhailo Dianov from the Azovstal? He’s free from Russian captivity now, but he needs to heal his arm.” 

Mykhailo’s sister Alyona Lavrushko confirmed that the shocking recent photo is indeed of her brother, telling Ukrainska Pravda: "His physical condition is serious, of course. But mentally… Mykhailo is very strong. He is extremely happy that he is back. He says, ‘I am walking and breathing clean, free air'."

She said Dianov has to have surgery on his arm, which is missing 4 cm of bone.

Lavrushko continued: "He has a problem with his arm: there may be an abscess. Next he needs to have surgery to insert a plate on the bone, because he is missing 4 cm of bone in his arm and all this needs to be corrected."

She added: "They pulled out the object lodged in his arm without anaesthesic, without anything – using rusty pliers.

They pulled that metal out of his arm with pliers... That was the kind of help our guys were getting."

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that more than 200 Ukrainians had been released from Russian captivity and were now 'safe'.

He tweeted: “We returned 215 people from Russian captivity: 188 defenders of Azovstal and Mariupol. 108 Azov warriors, national guards, marines, border guards, policemen, territorial defense, Security Service employees. They’re safe now. We remember and try to save everyone.

"According to our agreements with @RTErdogan, the five released Azov commanders will be in comfortable conditions in Turkey until the end of the war. They will be able to see their families. I sincerely thank President Erdoğan for his leading role in liberating our people."

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@defenceu

Topics: Ukraine, World News

Jess Hardiman
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