Red Cross
Red CrossFlash 90

Mariana Checheliuk, a Ukrainian police officer who was released as part of a prisoner swap last week, opened up about the two years she spent in Russian captivity.

Checheliuk said that she was taken prisoner after spending a significant amount of time in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Checheliuk, a civilian police officer, begged the UN and the Red Cross to allow her to leave the city as part of the humanitarian convoys. Together with her sister and parents, she boarded the humanitarian convoy, but Checheliuk along with her little sister Maria were taken to a small village from where she was kidnapped. In violation of its promise, the Red Cross left her in the hands of Russia.

Her mother, Nataliia Checheliuk, said that over her two years in captivity, Mariana was starved, beaten, and subject to other tortures while she lost a significant amount of weight and suffered from repeated respiratory diseases.

Today, about 400 Ukrainian women are believed to be held by Russia, most of them civilians who were kidnapped by the Russian regime, while Moscow refuses to agree to release them in contrast to the exchange of male prisoners.