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Roman Svitan: I Wouldn't Hesitate In Front Of Lukashenka

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Roman Svitan: I Wouldn't Hesitate In Front Of Lukashenka

AFU colonel speaks about his Belarusian origin, captivity in the “DPR” and the future of Belarusians and Ukrainians.

Colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and instructor pilot Roman Svitan is one of the most famous military experts in Ukraine. Charter97.org learned that Col. Svitan has Belarusian roots. His biography also includes captivity in the Izolyatsia prison - the most terrible prison of the “DPR” [the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic - Ed.].

Roman Svitan gave an interview to Charter97.org and spoke about his Belarusian origin, torture in Russian captivity, Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine and the future of the Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples:

– I am 60 years old, and I and all my relatives, while they were alive, managed to find our roots. I've reached almost the fifth generation. So, one of the branches on the maternal line is from Belarus. My grandmother Maryia was born in the village of Yaduty [the village located on the territory of the Borznyansky district of the Chernihiv region - Ed.] in 1913. Her father is my great-grandfather, Ukrainian Ivan Dmitrenko, and his wife is Belarusian-Litvin Motria Dmitrienko.

It turns out that my grandmother is half Belarusian, which means I have some Belarusian blood also. I’m even Litvin on my mother’s side.

My grandmother was born in 1913, and The Holodomor [also known as the Great Ukrainian Famine - Ed.] happened in 1933. The Red Army cleansed the village of Yaduty. They grabbed all the grain. They surrounded Yaduty. The village had been resisting Russian power and defarming for 20 years. Ivan, my maternal line great-grandfather, had 13 children and his own mill - a “kulak” [rich farmer - Ed.] perfect target for them.

They came to “defarm” him. Before that, they took all the flour and grain, but they also came for seed grain. If you don’t sow in the spring, then that’s the end your family dies. So, he was shot in 1933, and Cheka [VChK - the first of a succession of Soviet secret-police organizations - Ed.] captured my Belarusian great-grandmother, no one saw her again. They probably shot her too.

The locals and relatives took the babies, and those over 18 were sent to the settlement for compulsory labor. That’s how my 20-year-old grandmother Maryia was transferred to the Donbas village of Pervomaiskoye. It turns out - like a prisoner. Later she married the chairman of a collective farm, Yegor Borodenko. Later my mother was born. By the way, everyone in our family is long-liver - they live 100-103 years.

This is the part of my Lithuanian roots I have. They suffered because of genocidal actions by the Russians.

‘I stayed in charge of our partisan movement’

– In your biography, Russian captivity and the Izolyatsia prison in Donetsk are in the pages of your biography. How did you get there? What was happening there?

— I was born in Makiivka in 1964 (a city in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, which has been under Russian occupation since 2014 - Ed.), I saw everything that was happening in Donetsk from the very beginning.

At the age of 17, I entered the Chernigov Flight School. I just went to the land of my ancestors. I was studying, flying, serving as head of the 72nd Air Base of KNAFU [Kharkiv National University of the Air Force - Ed.]. Later I retired and came back to Donbas.

In 2013, when Yanukovych misbehaved on the Maidan, the Nobody Except Us our Donetsk-Afghan organization was in Kyiv on December 2, 2013.

I returned to Donbas as a military adviser to the governor of the Donetsk region, Sergei Taruta, after the Maidan. The responsibilities were approximately the same as those of the Secretary of the National Security Council, but over the region.

We initially created headquarters in Donbas, like the main headquarters, when the Russians started the invasion. All the security forces joined it: the head of the SSU (the Security Service of Ukraine), the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the head of the National Guard. In general, the entire forces. Naturally, we began to prepare internal resistance: partisan detachments, militia battalions. I stayed in charge of the partisan movement when they completely captured the region.

“Heroes of the Ukrainian Donbass” - a documentary movie about Roman Svitan and his captivity appeared in the series in 2019.

‘They crushed one of my fingers into 17 pieces’

I was captured by Russian special services. Local Donetsk cops tracked me down and handed me over to the GRU [Russian military intelligence - Ed.]. Those who were part of the counteraction headquarters. Almost all of them went over to the Russian side.

Eight machine gunners arrested me, breaking my big toes with their butts so that I wouldn’t run away. I still have trouble walking. One of my fingers was crushed into 17 pieces.

They brought me to Izolyatsia, where they tortured me for several days, using all the GRU instruments: they cut my thigh with daggers, pushed needle under my fingernail, gouged out my eyes and ran a soldering iron over my body. They even used “truth drugs”.

They were trying to beat information out of me but the good thing is that we carried out our partisan activity in such a way that they already knew some things about me (I was quite public), but what they didn’t know, I didn’t know myself. Partisan activity as such does not make it possible to know who is below you in level. I knew my direct supervisor, but I didn't know the whole group members. It was important for them to extort something about our partisan activities, but how can they extort something from me if I just don’t know? In general, they were cutting me, sewing me up and cutting again. The worst thing was when they broke my teeth with a soldering iron and heated up the nerves.

The local Doctor Mengele - Yuri Evich - took part in all tortures. He kept me conscious when sewing me. By the way, he described all these tortures that took place there in a book. Now, if you search “Yuri Yevych, Colonel Svitan” in Google, you can see links to his descriptions.

Once I even died on the torture table, when they had already cut through my thigh to the artery, the blood flowed out. I suffered clinical death, but Evich rescued me.

By the way, they even reported Putin about me, saying that they had taken the “great strategist” of Donbas. Then the so-called Prime Minister of the “DPR”, Russian citizen Aleksandr Boroday (now a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation from the United Russia political party) came to Izolyatsia and interrogated me personally.

Moreover, usually, everyone else was either wearing masks, or I had a bag over my head. Boroday did not have a mask during the interrogation, and they took a bag off head. Everyone else was wearing masks.

At the end of the interrogation, the verdict was shooting. The most interesting thing is that everyone who participated in my arrest was tortured to death in the dungeons, almost everyone is dead, except for a few people and Dr. Evich is one of them. He is still alive.

‘I was needed for an exchange’

In general, my name appeared on a death list. I was already being taken to the cemetery, but on the way, “by order” of one of the leaders of the “DPR” militants, Igor Bezler (Bes), the car with me was intercepted by militants of the Vostok battalion and recaptured. For some time I was at the Vostok base, and then I was transported to Horlivka.

Bezler needed me for an exchange. I was on the list of 15 prisoners who were being prepared to be exchanged for the saboteur Olga Kurygina, she was in our captivity. As a result, I was the first to be released before the exchange, because sepsis hit my wounds and I've been suffering from 40 celsius fever. “He will die anyway. Let them take Svitan,” Bes said.

So I was released from the captivity and came to Dnipro and skillful physicians. They healed me and put me back on my feet. I spent a week in Izolyatsia and a week at Bezler’s in total.

When I got on my feet in Dnipro, I became a military adviser to the governor of the Dnipro region and to the mayor of Dnipro.

– Now you collaborate with many media outlets as an expert. Many “retrospective analysts” say that they foresaw a full-scale war. Could you please answer, did you expect Russia to attack Ukraine on February 24?

– Sure. This was clear in December 2013. It all started with Yanukovych. In 2014, the Russians entered Crimea, penetrated into Donbas, and it was clear that the Russian Federation would not stop. This is an empire that will only stop with its collapse.

It was clear that they were ready to attack a year before February 24th. As soon as the decision was made to launch large-scale exercises along the border with Ukraine. This was the beginning of secretive preparations for the invasion. Everything became clear as soon as more than 10,000 troops entered Belarus. Simple exercises are never carried out by troops of more than 10,000: if there are more troops, then this is already a large-scale deployment - preparation for an attack. Putin was only waiting for the end of the Olympics in China.

– Part of your family is in the Chernihiv region bordering Belarus. Did you expect that Russian troops would leave Belarus and Lukashenka would stand with the aggressor?

– I can say that Ukrainians will never forgive Lukashenka for the crimes he committed. Give me a machine gun - and will never hesitate to shoot him down right away. He really participated in the murder of people, and he provided the Belarusian territory. Let me emphasize that he is a natural participant in the murders of Ukrainian civilians.

I would like to appeal to the Belarusian people, quoting our famous poet Taras Shevchenko: “If you fight, you will overcome! God helps you!” Fight, Belarusians.

We drove Yanukovych out with kicks, and you will decide for yourself what to do with Lukashenka, but, obviously you need to fight and destroy the aggressor. The Ukrainian people consider Belarusians to be brothers. Our fates are intertwined.

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