A Ukrainian prisoner of war has recounted his horrific ordeal while being held in a Russian prison camp for 14 months.
Oleksandr Didur, 30, lost three fingers, movement in his arm and his eye while defending his homeland against Putin’s army.
The hero has now spoken about his experiences in the abyssal OlenivkaCamp and his fight for survival.
After surviving a direct attack from a Russian tank, Oleksandr was so badly injured that his comrades initially referred to him as Cargo 200 – an old Soviet term for casualties on the tank.
The explosion tore off three of his fingers, shrapnel pierced his body and broke his arm.
But Oleksandr defied all odds and was treated before the Russians captured the entire group and initially took Oleksandr to a hospital.
He told The Sun: “They didn’t torture us but there was moral abuse. They tried to threaten us, to threaten our lives, to intimidate us.”
“They actually pointed a gun at us, like putting a gun to our foreheads or threatening to knock us out.”or sometimes they would come at us with tongs to intimidate us (patients).”
The real horror began when Oleksandr was transferred to the Olenivka prison camp, where he received no further treatment for his painful injuries.
The food provided in Russian captivity was minuscule: water, potatoes and a few pieces of pasta.
For dinner, the prisoners were given cereal with some fish – or if they were lucky, chicken.
And his horrific injuries took about three months to heal, but the chances of a fatal infection in prison remained high.
Oleksandr also survived a prison camp explosion that killed 50 prisoners of war and injured hundreds.
During his 14 months in prison, Oleksandr said he thought about his wife, daughter and young son.
He beamed: “My wife is the real hero. My son was born on March 16 when I was at the steel mill and I found out that she had to give birth to our son standing up in a bunker.”
“This happened during the shelling. I think it’s a real heroic act.”
Early in the war, Oleksandr’s battalion was sent directly to the front lines in Mariupol when a hail of rockets fell on Ukrainian civilians.
He told The Sun: “We could see all these rockets flying overhead. We couldn’t understand whether the sun was rising or setting because of that.”was on fire the whole time.
After months of conflict and no ammunition, Oleksandr and his battalion were forced to take shelter in a three-story building, where he was attacked and suffered life-changing injuries.
My son was born on March 16th when I was at the steel mill and found out that she had to give birth to our son standing up in a bunker.
He recalled: “That Russian tank was about 300 to 350 meters from where I was.”
“All the boys went into the bunker, but one of the boys disobeyed my order and decided to stay on the first floor while I was on the second floor.
“Then the tank hit 2 meters from where I was. The guy who was a floor away from me probably heard me screaming – well, I don’t know what he heard.”
“But he was the one who pulled me out of that place and put me in the bunker.”
A video of Oleksandr calling his mother shortly after his release from the prison camp went viral online in June.
Oleksandr smiled when asked about it: “When I came back, I could hear that Ukrainian language and even the air, I felt like I belonged there. I felt like it was my home.”
“But inside it felt like fire. There was a fire because of all these mixed emotions. And suddenly a woman came up to me and gave me the phone to call my mother.”
“You could see in the video that I didn’t really understand what I was saying, I didn’t know what to say because of all these mixed emotions inside me.”
Months after his rescue, Oleksandr is adjusting well to home again – despite having lost several fingers, all feeling and movement in his left arm and his left eye.
An X-ray showed more than 28 shrapnel throughout his body – and Oleksandr was often told he should not be alive.
I could hear that Ukrainian language and even the air, I felt like I belonged there. I felt like it was my home.
Thanks to The Heart of Avstoval, an organization that supports Mariupol defenders like Oleksandr, he will undergo eye surgery and prosthetics.
Doctors said they could most likely get his left eyelid working again and once the surgeries were completed he would be able to choose “any eye color he likes.”
Oleksandr told The Sun that he hopes to start an organization to help injured veterans in the United Statesbut for now he is happy being with his family and focusing on getting back to his former self.
Oleksandr said: “I am sure that a person can endure any torture as long as he remains alive.”
“And I told them that if you want to achieve something, you can do it. And I’m trying to help our people cope with the difficult situation.”