Dutch journalist Sonja van den Ende in Donbass
© Photo : Sonja van den Ende
While the US rushed to vilify Russia’s latest UN Security Council Arria-Formula summit on Kiev’s human rights violations, one might wonder as to why Ukrainian neo-Nazi torture sites have so much in common with CIA secret prisons, says Dutch journalist Sonja van den Ende.
“I participated in the UN Security Council Arria-Formula meeting on 6 May 2022″, says Sonja van den Ende, an independent journalist from Rotterdam, Netherlands. “The goal of this meeting was to present to the United Nations (UN) members evidence about war crimes committed by the Ukrainian Army in cooperation with the Azov Battalion which was provided by us, journalists on the ground, in Donbass. The evidence was presented in the form of videos and oral testimonies, from residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, especially Mariupol, Volnovakha and Melitiopol”.
However, the Western UN members, especially representatives from the US, the UK, Norway, Albania, and France, paid little if any attention to the Donbass people’s stories, according to the Dutch journalist. Furthermore, they behaved in an arrogant way, she adds.
“They completely ignored us and didn’t ask any questions”, she notes. “I personally made some remarks at the end of the meeting. I asked them if they want WWIII and why they don’t listen to us, the journalists, who are working on the ground”.
Following the meeting, Rodney Hunter, political coordinator at the US Mission to the United Nations, claimed that Russia “misused” the Security Council and the UN to “spew falsehoods”. He even went so far as to dismiss Russia’s report and testimonies of Donbass witnesses and foreign journalists as “disinformation, lies and false narrative”.
The US is using human rights and international law selectively and only when it fits in its agenda, says van den Ende: Washington routinely turns a blind eye to the crimes committed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, while pointing the finger of blame at Russia. Still, it raises the question whether Washington has any moral authority to lambast Russia, given that “the US is the largest perpetrator, who is waging wars around the globe in many countries”, notes the journalist.
She is also perplexed by the US administration’s current attempts to instrumentalise the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Russia, given that Washington never recognised the jurisdiction of this legal body. Moreover, on 2 September 2020, then-President Donald Trump slapped sanctions on ICC officials over the court’s investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the US in Afghanistan. (Later these sanctions were revoked by Joe Biden).
Mariupol’s ‘Biblioteka’ Black Site
No matter how hard the West tries to depict Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis as patriots and heroes, the truth is continuing to find its way out. Following the liberation of Mariupol, residents talked to journalists, describing the Azov Battalion’s hideous misdeeds, which went contrary to the Western press’ narrative.
Der Spiegel was caught red-handed by another German outlet, Junge Welt, deleting a video featuring an evacuee from Mariupol’s Azovstal, Natalia Usmanova, who subjected the Ukrainian government and neo-Nazi Azov militants to harsh criticism. According to Der Spiegel, the video was removed “because of discrepancies in content that were subsequently discovered”.
Van den Ende, who visited Mariupol twice, notes that a lot of gruesome stories concerning Ukrainian neo-Nazis were circulating in the city after it was taken under the control of militants from the notorious Azov, Dnipro, and Shakhtersk battalions in 2014. For several years, Ukrainian nationalists cracked down on supporters of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in Mariupol.
“I got to know this in March  and most likely other journalists who were in Mariupol also heard that there was a torture site [there] called ‘Biblioteka’ (‘Library’), or as Western countries used to call those facilities during the US War on Terror, a ‘black site'”, says the Dutch journalist.
The “Library” secret torture prison appeared at Mariupol Airport in June 2014, being run by the Azov Battalion and “supervised” by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), according to Vasily Prozorov, a former SBU officer. People detained for links to the DPR or pro-Russian ideas were called “books”. After being checked, the prisoners were kept in the refrigerators of the airport restaurant. According to the testimonies of former detainees, Ukrainian nationalists used different torture techniques, including waterboarding, asphyxiation, breaking fingers, etc.
“People involved in the anti-Ukrainian resistance, and the struggle against the Kiev authorities, were subjected to severe torture”, Prozorov told Russian newspaper Izvestia in March 2022. “Two men were tortured to death in front of my eyes. In total, during my rotation (one month), about 200 people were processed through the ‘Library'”.
Van den Ende notes that torture techniques used at the Mariupol secret prison were strikingly similar to those used by the CIA at the agency’s black sites across the world. The existence of the CIA’s overseas torture sites was confirmed in a 2014 US Senate Intelligence report on the use of what was termed “enhanced interrogation practices” by the US intelligence agency. The Dutch journalist does not rule out that the Azov Battalion and other Ukrainian nationalist militants were specifically “trained” to torture their detainees. She notes that waterboarding – the CIA’s most famous tool – was also widely used in the “Biblioteka”.
“The Azov Battalion is a cruel militia based on the Nazi ideology and despite the West is trying to deny it, you can see it clearly from their symbols, their outfit, their flag and their torch marches, which they perform every year, especially in commemoration of their idol Stephan Bandera, the Nazi leader of Ukraine in WWII!” she says.
Western Leaders Know What’s Going On
Van den Ende bemoans the fact that just a few foreign correspondents are working in the Donbass conflict zone. The Western corporate press and Hollywood celebrities have never visited the region, she notes, citing American movie star Angelina Jolie’s latest trip to the western Ukrainian city of Lvov. Apparently, Western leaders and their spin doctors know that their narrative contradicts the reality on the ground in Donbass, according to the journalist.
“They don’t want to visit the war-torn [Donbass] region and they prevent their journalists and celebrities from going there, because it’s not on their agenda and not in their interest. They don’t care about human suffering, they use it when it suits them”, says the Dutch journalist. “The West knows very well that they support right-wing extremists [in Ukraine], as they supported jihadists in Syria. They use them as proxies, so they don’t fight directly themselves. They use this tactic in all their wars, in their colour revolutions and regime changes, training these proxies and supporting them with money and weapons”.
However, it seems that some forces within Western elites have started to realise that the US and NATO have gone too far by arming Ukraine and ramping up the conflict in Eastern Europe, according to van den Ende.
Thus, Pope Francis noted in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the “barking of NATO at Russia’s door” may have forced Russia to start the special operation in Ukraine. Jeffrey Sachs, a former adviser to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), urged the US to negotiate with Russia and reconsider NATO’s expansionist strategy in his April op-ed for CNN.
“If more intellectuals would stand up against their own regimes, some common sense would come back”, the Dutch journalist suggests. “But I am afraid, common sense is completely gone with politicians in the West, they are following a war plan. They want war with Russia. Why? My guess is that their financial system is broken and they need a new system, like the ‘Great Reset’ and the ‘Green New Deal’, so they push their agenda of war, to distract the population from the real problems and the agenda they follow”.
Ekaterina Blinova is a freelance journalist and has been a Sputnik contributor since 2014. She has a specialist’s degree in history and specialises in US, European, Middle Eastern and Asian politics, international relations, sociology and high tech.