A British man freed by Russia said he was “treated worse than a dog” and held in solitary confinement for five months. He was asked if he wanted a quick death or a “beautiful death”. He said the prisoners had to sing the Russian national anthem every morning
Aidan Aslin has returned to the UK after being held captive for months by the Russians following his capture by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. He told the British Sun that after he was stabbed he was asked if he wanted a quick death or a “beautiful death”. According to him, the prisoners had to sing the Russian national anthem every morning. “And if you hadn’t sung it, you would have been punished for it. You would have been beaten,” he said.
In an interview, the former prisoner said that he was stabbed while in captivity and beaten because of his tattoos. Ten detainees, including Aslin, were released last Wednesday after Saudi Arabia mediated between Russia and Ukraine. Among them were five British nationals who were released, John Harding, Dylan Healy, Andrew Hill and Sean Finner, and Aidan Aslin. Eslin from Newark, Nottinghamshire was captured in April while fighting in the south-eastern city of Mariupol.
He, Finner and a Moroccan national, Brahim Saadoun, were put on trial in the Donetsk People’s Republic and told they faced the death penalty. Referring to the time he was stabbed in the back, Mr Aslin said: “I knew there was a very high chance I was going to be killed.”
He was asked by a Russian guarding him: “Do you want a quick death or a beautiful death?” In response to a quick death, Mr Aslin was told: “You’re going to have a beautiful death and I’m going to make sure it’s a beautiful death.” He said he was beaten for having a Ukrainian tattoo and one showing his time in Syria as a soldier. Aslin said he was held with four other people in a two-person cell, and was forced to sleep on a mat infested with lice.”
“We couldn’t go to the bathroom properly because we didn’t have a toilet,” he said, adding that they had to use empty bottles. Aslin said that he survived for three weeks by eating pieces of bread and water – and “in the end we had to beg them to give us tap water.” There was a window in the cell, but there was “nothing to protect us from the outside elements”, it was cold.
When he answered the question where he came from, he was beaten. “As soon as I said Britain I got punched right in the nose,” he said. Aslin said the only time he was released was to do propaganda or receive phone calls.”
His terrifying experience came to an end only after Roman Abramovich brokered an extraordinary prisoner exchange. Aidan, who was reunited with his Ukrainian mother and fiancee, admitted: “I never thought I would make it out alive.”
Aidan built a new life in Ukraine in 2018, joining the Marine Corps. He then fought the Russians after their invasion in February. But his regiment ran into a bad situation when it ran out of food and ammunition in the bloody siege of Mariupol last April.
Aidan traveled to the Donetsk People’s Republic, he was taken to a detention center with a hood over his head and repeatedly beaten with a stick every night during the interrogation. Every answer he gave was met with another blow, while they also threatened to cut off his ear.
After collapsing to the floor, he was hit again in the forehead – suffering injuries that the world would see 24 hours later, when Vladimir Putin’s mouthpieces announced his capture on social media.
During the next five months, he was kept 24 hours a day in a small cell with cockroaches and lice. Aidan said: “For the whole five months I was in captivity, I couldn’t cry. When I heard I had been sentenced to death I wanted to cry but I just couldn’t. It was really about survival. Your life is in the hands of these people and you do what they tell you to do or you suffer the consequences “.
He was finally released through the activities of Roman Abramovich, when they boarded the plane in Rostov, Russia, he found Abramovich there who shook Aidan’s hand and told him: “It’s good that you’re here.” He added: “Abramovich looked at everyone. He was a little shy and didn’t want to bother us. It was amazing. Less than 48 hours earlier I was in isolation, I was treated worse than a dog and now I was on a plane with people who didn’t want to hurt me.”