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Russian soldiers forced to rape each other, says report alleging brutal violence on Ukraine front line

storm z squad russia
A screenshot from a video in which soldiers said they will no longer fight in Ukraine to protest their brutal treatment.Gulagu.net/Reuters
  • Russian soldiers are facing brutal punishments on the Ukraine front line, Verstka reported.

  • Soldiers claim that enlisted convicts abuse fellow service members.

  • The outlet published videos appearing to show naked soldiers being beaten and others tied to trees.

A shocking article from the independent Russian news outlet Verstka reported that Russian soldiers are subjected to brutal treatment in Ukraine, including being tied to trees for days, being forced to rape each other, and being thrown naked into dug pits.

Over the course of three months, the outlet interviewed several Russian soldiers who described brutal conditions in which troops recruited from Russia's prisons bully and abuse mobilized soldiers while commanders remain stationed away from the front lines.

"Our convicts have completely lost their heads," one soldier told Verstka, citing a lack of rotation on the front line and mounting fatalities as reasons for their anger.

The outlet obtained a video that appeared to show four naked men being hit and verbally abused by military personnel and then made to enter a dug pit.

In the video, a soldier shouts vulgar insults and commands at the naked victims, Verstka reported.

Business Insider was unable to independently verify the claims made in the article.

The soldier who shared the video with Verstka, Misha Maltsev, said that this form of unofficial punishment is often used on soldiers who drink or do drugs while on duty.

He also claimed that the soldiers carrying out the abuse "make them have sex afterwards. They sit and watch it. Laughing, pissing on top of them. Like they're watching TV."

Handcuffed to trees

"It's hell here," another Russian soldier said. "They're killing each other. The Ukrainians are killing each other. The orders are stupid. Everyone understands that you can't succeed, but they send them to die anyway."

Verstka also published a video that appears to show an unidentified soldier being tied to a tree.

Another Russian soldier, Semyon Kiskorov, told the outlet that soldiers who refused to fight could be handcuffed or tied to trees for days and not allowed to eat or drink.

Kiskorov said this happened to him and his brother in November after they refused to go on an assault mission.

Maltsev told Verstka that wounded soldiers are stitched up and sent back to fight, and the bodies of dead soldiers are often left to rot around them.

The outlet noted that after interviewing him, Maltsev and his entire unit were killed in December in the village of Krynky, on the east bank of the Dnipro River, where Ukraine has established a bridgehead.

In a third video, two men appear to be beaten with sticks as machine guns are fired close to their heads. Groans, shouts, and screams can be heard. "That's it, please forgive me," howls one of those being abused.

Russia's 'Storm-Z' units

russian soldiers
Russian soldiers take part in military exercises at the Uspenovskyi training ground outside the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, on September 4, 2022.Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

The Russian army has suffered heavy casualties throughout the war, with some analysts describing its use of "human wave" tactics, intended to overwhelm Ukrainian positions by sending in masses of soldiers on foot.

These soldiers are often poorly trained or under-equipped, leading to a high number of fatalities.

Last year, the Kremlin set up what it calls "Storm-Z" units. Some of the troops in this force are convicted criminals who go into combat in exchange for time off their sentences.

Ukraine has said that Storm-Z soldiers demonstrate extremely low combat capability, according to a press release translated by Pravda.

The soldiers in this group suffer from alcoholism, engage in looting, and are prone to desertion, the main intelligence directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said.

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