The Russians kidnapped two brothers from Enerhodar who worked at Zaporizhzhia NPP

Liudmyla Vasylivna is waiting for two relatives to return from Russian captivity: in September 2022, in Enerhodar, the Russians took her twin brothers, Serhii ta Oleksandr Korzh.
Iryna Skachko28 March 2024UA DE EN ES FR RU

Сергій та Олександр Коржі Сергей и Александр Коржи

Serhii and Oleksandr Korzh

Both worked for many years as engineers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. They lived near Enerhodar: one — in the village of Novovodiane and the other — in Novoukrainka.

— Sashko [Oleksandr’s nickname] was just walking Serhii home, — says his sister. — They walked through the fields. There was no Russian military there for a long time. Suddenly, a new roadblock. And they didn’t like something about Serhii’s phone...

After that, the brothers were immediately separated.

— Serhii was taken to prison in Enerhodar. And Sasha was taken to another village.

Three days later, Oleksandr was released.

— Sasha was very scared, — says his wife, Tetiana, who left the occupied territory last summer. — He was kept in a tent at a gas station near the village of Blahovischenka. For three days, his hands were wrapped in tape. At least it was warm outside.

A car pulled up, I went up to the gate, and they asked: “Have you lost your husband?” “I lost him,” — I said. He was in the back, with a bag on his head, taped up with tape... Sasha later told me he had said goodbye to life three times during these three days. They threatened him and shot near his ear.

— His fingers were very numb, he couldn’t move them... At home, we treated him as best we could... — says Liudmyla. — And on December 16, 2022, Sasha was supposed to go to Enerhodar to visit his mother. Somewhere along the way, he was stopped, and that’s it... After that, we didn’t see him.

The Kharkiv human rights group has already written that ZNPP workers are being kidnapped in the temporarily occupied Enerhodar. WSJ journalists reported back in 2022 that everyone, from management to ordinary workers, was subjected to Russian torture. In July 2022, Andrii Honcharuk, a diver from the hydraulic workshop of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, died in the Enerhodar Hospital after severe torture. Some were eventually released, some went missing, and the extensive machine of Russian captivity swallowed up others.

“Pit”

The relatives looked everywhere for Serhii and Oleksandr, but the occupation authorities did not give them any information. They also were intimidated: if you asked questions, you would be put into a pit.

The Russians called “the pit” places where kidnapped Ukrainians were kept. One of the residents of Enerhodar, who managed to free himself from one of these “pits,” spoke in an interview with Zmina about how these torture chambers work. According to him, this is an underground room without windows. They give food in the “pit” so that the person does not die, and they beat him precisely according to the schedule — three times a day. As it turned out later, the Russians kept Serhii in such a “pit” in Enerhodar for some time.

Back in November, before Sasha’s repeated abduction, a video appeared in which Serhii, not looking like himself, apparently having survived torture, “confesses” to allegedly “directing fire from the Ukrainian military at the nuclear power plant.” Judging by the signature, the man was in the Kherson Region during filming.

— You could see the state he was in... He said things I just couldn’t wrap my head around, — Liudmyla Vasylivna shows a scary video.

Скріншот з відео каналу

Screenshot from the video of the channel "Russia 24"

After that, there was silence. There was no news from the brothers for a long time. Relatives and friends in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government tried to find any information through various social network groups. There was information that at a certain period, at the beginning of 2023, both brothers could have been kept in Melitopol.

Pre-trial detention center No. 2

Last summer, we discovered Serhii and Oleksandr Korzh were in Simferopol, in the notorious pre-trial detention center No. 2 (SIZO-2). This information was subsequently confirmed by the first deputy mayor of Enerhodar, Ivan Samoidiuk, who was also in Russian captivity for more than 300 days. He was traded last February.

A letter came from Serhii on the pre-trial detention center No. 2 letterhead. Oleksandr didn’t write.

It is already a typical scenario of what the Russians do with civilians kidnapped in the south of Ukraine. “First, they are tortured by the Russian military or the National Guard in the occupied territories. Then, they are transported to a Crimean pre-trial detention center, where the FSB officers torture them so that they admit guilt. This applies to everyone: both those who have a lawyer and those who do not,” — said Olha Skrypnyk, chairman of the Crimean Human Rights Group board.

According to the Crimean Human Rights Group, Simferopol Pre-trial Detention Center No. 2 does not depend on the Office of the Federal Penitentiary Service but is entirely under the control of the FSB. The detention center is intended specifically for Ukrainian citizens kidnapped by the occupiers — residents of Crimea and recently occupied Regions.

СІЗО-2. Новий слідчий ізолятор у тимчасово окупованому Сімферополі. СИЗО-2. Новый следственный изолятор во временно оккупированном Симферополе.

SIZO-2. A new pre-trial detention center in temporarily occupied Simferopol.

It was opened in the fall of 2022 on correctional colony No. 1 territory. Before this, Ukrainians were kept mainly in a special block of pre-trial detention center No. 1, but it became crowded. Within a couple of months, the number of prisoners from the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Regions in the newly created institution reached 110 people. That is where journalist Serhii Tsyhipa is being held and where captive Spanish volunteer Mariano Harsiia Kalataiud was recently held.

Former inmates of pre-trial detention center No. 2 told Meduza journalists that prisoners are forbidden to sit or lie on their bunks from six in the morning until lights out, and the Russian anthem is periodically played very loudly from the radio. It can be heard even outside the colony. One of the Russian lawyers working in Crimea who asked not to give his name called pre-trial detention center No. 2 an analog of Lefortovo: after all, here all the instructions about the conditions of detention are given by the FSB: “The FSB general literally came and ordered not to let prisoners go for walks for more isolation."

Many spoke about the conditions of Crimean Tatar prisoners in pre-trial detention center No. 2. They were forbidden to pray, and their things and food were taken away. Ekrem Krosh was kneed in the ribs; Asan and Aziz Akhtemov were forced to learn the Russian anthem.

They’re not here

Many civilian prisoners are kept in pre-trial detention center No. 2 without initiating any criminal cases, without informing relatives about the fate of the missing, and without allowing lawyers to see the prisoners.

— Russians often detain Ukrainian civilians without a court verdict. They write: “A check is being carried out for involvement in countering the SVO [Special Military Operation].” This check has been ongoing for the second year, and people have no status,” — says a lawyer of the Kharkiv human rights group Tamila Bespala.

Subsequently, it turned out that a charge had been brought against Serhei under Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation — “espionage.” Why Oleksandr is being held is unknown.

— They have nothing on Sasha at all! — says his wife. — When he was first taken away for three days and then brought home, the FSB checked everything on us: laptop and phones, but they found nothing.

Even knowing where the Russians are holding a loved one, it can be challenging for the family to obtain official confirmation of their whereabouts.

— I sent all the available information to the Red Cross, but the organization does not confirm that my brothers are in pre-trial detention center No. 2, — says Liudmyla Vasylivna. — The Russians, at the request of the ICRC, do not admit this... How can this be?

The lack of effective monitoring and control of Russian places of captivity by international organizations began to be discussed ten years ago when the war started and the Russian Federation annexed Crimea. Since then, this problem has not been resolved.

— In the occupied Ukrainian territory and in the Russian Federation, where Ukrainians are being taken, there is no control on the part of international institutions, such as the ICRC, the OSCE mission,” says Oleksandr Pavlichenko, executive director of the UKHHR. — They must conduct independent visits to places of detention and find out who is being held, under what conditions, and on what grounds. And this is an indicator that international treaty law acts very selectively. When we see some pictures of ICRC representatives visiting, for example, the Simferopol pre-trial detention center, we know that this process is prepared to a certain extent.

— It is necessary to develop more effective mechanisms for confirming the place of detention of prisoners,” Tamila Bespala agrees with this opinion. — There are many cases when we know that a Ukrainian citizen is in captivity; there is video evidence, but the Red Cross cannot obtain any information about them and officially confirm the captivity.

Recently, it became known that Serhii was transferred to a mental hospital. Perhaps Sasha, too, given that there is no news from him. Why and for what purpose — no one knows.


According to the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, about 14 thousand civilians now remain in Russian captivity. At the same time, the whereabouts of only 1,600 people were confirmed, and a scanty number were returned — 147 civilians.

Let us remind you that the Kharkiv human rights protection group has created a hotline regarding missing persons. If you are a relative or know about prisoners of war, civilian prisoners, or missing civilians in occupied territory, call 0 800 20 24 02 (free).

We cannot guarantee that we will locate your loved one. However, over the years of our work, our specialists have been able to detect more than 30% of the people reported to us.

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