I was a POW after being blown up by Putin's tanks – I lost an eye and three fingers but will to survive kept me alive | The Sun

A UKRAINIAN prisoner of war has shared his horrifying ordeal which saw him held in a Russian prison camp for 14 months.

Oleksandr Didur, 30, lost three fingers, movement in his arm and his eye while defending his homeland from Putin's army.

The hero has now opened up about his experience in the abysmal Olenivka prison camp and his fight to survive.

After surviving a direct strike from a Russian tank, Oleksandr was so badly injured that his fellow servicemen initially labelled him as Cargo 200 – an old Soviet term for casualties on the battlefield.

The blast blew off three of his fingers, sent shrapnel ripping through his body and snapped his arm.

But Oleksandr defied the odds, and was given treatment before Russians captured the entire group and initially took Oleksandr to a hospital.


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He told The Sun: "They did not torture us, but there was moral abuse. They tried to threaten us, threaten our lives to intimidate us. 

"They actually pointed a gun at us, put a gun to our forehead for instance, or threatened to knock out our teeth or they sometimes approached us with pliers to try intimidate us (patients)."

The true horror began when Oleksandr was transferred to the Olenivka prison camp, where he was given no further treatment for his painful injuries.

The food provided in Russian captivity was minuscule – water, with potato and a few pieces of pasta.

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For dinner, the prisoners were given cereal with a bit of fish – or if they were lucky, chicken.

And his horrifying injuries took around 3 months to heal, but the chances of deadly infection in the prison remained high.

Oleksandr also survived an explosion set off inside of the prison camp, which killed 50 POWs and injured hundreds.

Throughout his 14 months of imprisonment, Oleksandr said he thought of his wife, daughter and young son.

He beamed: "My wife is the real hero. My son was born on March 16, at the time when I was at the steel plant and I found out she had to give birth to our son in a bunker standing up.

"This happened while under shelling. I think that it's a real act of heroism."

At the beginning of the war, Oleksandr's battalion was sent directly to the front line in Mariupol as barrages of missiles rained down upon Ukrainian civilians.

He told The Sun: "We could see all these missiles as they flew above us. We could not understand if the sun was rising or setting because the sky was on fire all the time."

Months into the conflict, and left with no ammo, Oleksandr and his battalion were forced to seek shelter in a three storey building – where he was attacked and left with his life-altering injuries.

My son was born on March 16, at the time when I was at the steel plant and I found out she had to give birth to our son in a bunker standing up.

He recalled: "This Russian tank, it was about 300 to 350m from the place where I was.

"All the guys went to the bunker, but one of the guys disobeyed my order and he decided to stay on the first floor while I was on the second floor.

"Then the tank struck 2 m from the place where I was. The guy who was one floor away from me probably heard me screaming – well, I don’t know what he heard. 

"But he was the one who pulled me out of that place and took me to the bunker."

A video of Oleksandr calling his mother shortly after he was freed from the prison camp went viral online in June.

Oleksandr smiled when asked about it: "When I was back, I could hear this Ukrainian language and even the air, I felt like I belonged there. I felt that it was my homeland.

"But inside, it felt like fire. There was a fire because of all these mixed feelings. And suddenly a woman approached me and he gave me the phone to call my mum.

"You could see in the video I couldn’t really understand what I was saying, I didn’t know what to say because of all those mixed feelings inside me."

Months after his rescue, Oleksandr is settling back in at home well – despite losing multiple fingers, all feeling and movement in his left arm and his left eye.

An X-ray revealed more than 28 bits of shrapnel throughout his body – and Oleksandr was told many times that he shouldn't be alive.

I could hear this Ukrainian language and even the air, I felt like I belonged there. I felt that it was my homeland.

Thanks to The Heart of Avstoval, an organisation which provides support to defenders of Mariupol like Oleksandr, he will have surgery on his eye and receive prosthetic.

The doctors said they can most likely get his left eyelid working again and once the surgeries are completed, he can choose "any eye colour he likes."

Oleksandr told The Sun that he hopes to set up an organisation that helps injured veterans in the future, but for now he's happy to be with family and focus on getting back to his former self.

Oleksandr said: "I'm sure that a person can endure any tortures as long as a person stays alive.


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"And I told them that if you want to achieve something, you can do it. And I'm trying to help our people to cope with the difficult situation."

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