A senior Russian army lieutenant who fled Russia told ABC News he witnessed his country’s troops torture prisoners in Ukraine, including beating and threats to rape them.
Konstantin Yefremov, the most senior Russian soldier to defect and speak out openly against the war, is now in hiding and spoke to ABC News from Mexico. He is currently seeking to apply for political asylum in the United States.
“I want that what I saw, what I was witness to, becomes known to society. So that the truth is uncovered,” Yefremov said.
“I know that at home there only awaits me, in the best case, a lengthy prison term and, in the worst, they’ll simply execute me,” he said. “But to hide at home and wait for them to come for you, that’s humiliating. And I can’t be silent any longer. I don’t want to be silent.”
Yefremov, 33, spent three months as an officer in areas of Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region that were occupied by Russian forces in the first phase of the war. During that time, he said he personally witnessed the torture of Ukrainian prisoners during interrogations, including the shooting of one POW in the arms and legs and threats of rape.