Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jane Clinton

British man released by Russia says he was ‘treated worse than dog’

Aiden Aslin in a courtroom in the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk in June
Aiden Aslin in a courtroom in the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk in June. He was released with five other British captives on Wednesday. Photograph: AP

A British man captured by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine has revealed how he was beaten up, stabbed and asked whether he wanted a “quick” or “beautiful” death.

Aiden Aslin, who has now returned to the UK, told the Sun on Sunday that he was kept in solitary confinement for five months and “treated worse than a dog”.

He said he and other prisoners were forced to sing the Russian national anthem every morning, and if they did not comply they would be “punished for it. You would get beaten.”

Aslin was one of 10 detainees who were released on Wednesday evening in an exchange that Saudi Arabia said it had brokered between Russia and Ukraine.

Among those freed were five British nationals: Aslin, John Harding, Dylan Healy, Andrew Hill and Shaun Pinner.

Aslin, who is originally from Newark, Nottinghamshire, had built a new life in Ukraine in 2018, having fallen in love with a Ukrainian woman, Diane Okovyta, and joined the marines.

He was held in April while fighting in the south-eastern city of Mariupol and put on trial along with Pinner and Brahim Saadoun, a Moroccan citizen. They were told they faced the death penalty.

When he was given the sentence, Aslin said he wanted to cry but could not. “It was literally a matter of surviving,” he said.

During his time in prison, Aslin said, he was kept in a two-man cell and slept on a mat infested with lice and cockroaches. Because there was no toilet, he and his fellow inmates had to use empty bottles.

He said he survived for three weeks by eating pieces of bread and water. The only time he was let out of his cell was to do propaganda or take phone calls.

He said that when his passport was checked by a Russian soldier and it became clear he was from Britain, he was punched in the face.

At one point Aslin’s captors threatened to cut off his ear. He was beaten for having a tattoo of a Ukrainian trident and another referring to his time in Syria.

Recalling when he was stabbed in the back with a knife, Aslin said: “I knew there was a very high possibility I was about to be killed.”

He said a Russian who was guarding Aslin then asked him: “Do you want a quick death or a beautiful death?”

Aslin said he responded that he wanted a quick death but was told: “You’re going to have a beautiful death and I’m going to make sure it’s a beautiful death.”

After being reunited with his mother and his fiancee this week, Aslin said: “I never thought I’d get out alive.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.