VIDEO | Confession of a Russian officer: "Our soldiers tortured Ukrainians, I can't forgive myself"

Konstantin Yefremov/ Photo Printscreen BBC

A former Russian military officer has made claims about brutal interrogations by Russian soldiers, during which Ukrainians were killed and threatened with rape. Officer Konstantin Yefremov, in an exclusive interview for "BBCHe stated that Russia considers him a traitor and a deserter.

In one place in southern Ukraine, interrogations and torture lasted for a week, Efremov reveals: "Every day, every night, sometimes twice a day." Efremov tried to leave the army several times, and was eventually discharged because he refused to return to Ukraine. He has now fled Russia.

Using photographs and military documents provided by Yefremov, the BBC confirmed that the Russian officer was in Ukraine at the start of the war - in the Zaporozhye region, including the city of Melitopol.

Until recently, Konstantin Yefremov was an officer in the Russian army with the rank of lieutenant. He was deployed to Ukraine last year and agreed to speak about the atrocities he witnessed there – including the torture and abuse of Ukrainian prisoners. He spoke of his comrades looting the occupied territories of Ukraine and described brutal interrogations conducted by a Russian colonel, during which men were killed and threatened with rape.

On February 10, 2022, Yefremov arrived in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia annexed nine years ago. He was the commander of the demining unit of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division and was usually stationed in Chechnya, in the Russian North Caucasus. He and his men were sent to participate in "military exercises": "At that time no one believed that there would be a war. Everyone thought this was just a drill. I am sure that even the senior officers did not know."

Efremov recalls Russian soldiers sticking identification tags on their uniforms and painting the letter "Z" on military equipment and vehicles. Within days, the letter "Z" became a symbol of what the Kremlin called a "special military operation."

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