Sick Russian guards make a British prisoner of war record a farewell letter to his daughter in a mock execution stunt.
John Harding59, was released after being captured fighting for Ukraine and is now back in his homeland, where he recounts the hell he experienced.
John, from Sunderland, was working as a combat medic with the Ukrainian armed forces when he fell into the hands of the Russians.
In addition to brutal beatings, his captors would play distorted psychological games with him.
At one point he was ordered to record a message because he was to be executed by firing squad, the father of two told the Daily Mail.
He said he was held in three prisons, including one he called “the dark side,” in Russian-controlled Donetsk, where he was repeatedly beaten by guards from the region’s police force.
In the worst blows, a group of guards giggled as they strapped his head to a carry-on bag, handcuffed his hands behind his back and unleashed blows for 30 minutes.
They punched, kicked and jumped on his body, breaking most of his ribs, leaving him to bleed when urinating.
He was also charged and convicted by a kangaroo court of war crimes, and faced at least 20 years in prison.
With tears streaming down his face, John told The Sun, “I thought, ‘I wish they’d kill me now.'”
“That was the worst moment – the way they treated us was horrible. I said to myself in my head, ‘I was hit harder than my sister.'”
“If I had known how we would be treated before we surrendered, I would have stayed and made a sniper’s nest and only tried to get a few of them out before I was killed.
“The other prisoners and I kept our spirits up by laughing with each other in our cells.
“We were joking how we liked to cook steaks because we only ate bread.”
John was serving in Ukraine as a doctor in the 2nd battalion of the Azov regiment.
He surrendered and was captured in May after his unit ran out of ammunition while in Azovstal Steel in the besieged port of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.
Aiden and Sean, who were also captured in Mariupol, Sentenced to death By the Russian Proxy Court of Donetsk.
John was thrown onto a bus and continued for three days feeding on crackers and dirty water while his prison was ready.
But on Tuesday, prisoners were asked to collect their belongings. They were released at a Russian airport, where they were met by Saudis who escorted them to the plane to Riyadh with five other foreigners, a group of bodyguards and a crew of three.
John revealed the surreal moment he laid his eye on Abramovich, who gave both men an iPhone 13 so they could call their families and let them know they were on their way home.
“I didn’t even notice but Sean said he looked like him,” he told The Sun.
“He went to him on the plane and asked him where he was from,” said Roman, “London.”
Then Sean said, ‘You really look Roman AbramovichHe said: It is because I am, sir. He couldn’t believe it.
“I joked that Sean is a West Ham fan and we all laughed.”
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