Ukraine War and Torture

The Prime Minister’s visit to Kyiv has highlighted the continuing need to support the people of war-torn Ukraine and in particular protect civilians from the bombardment of the capital and other cities. Of his three overseas assignments during the last week, this was without doubt Rishi’s most important in terms of sustaining the Free World. That is not to say that economic hardships and rising sea-levels do not need our close attention, but belt-tightening and crop-growing have to be set within the context of the fight against authoritarianism.

The cases of torture that have been reported following the recapture of Kherson are very harrowing, but are not unique. In 1920, Prime Minister David Lloyd George set up a Committee to Collect Information on Russia led by Alfred Emmott who took evidence between 10 June and 17 August from British prisoners released from Moscow jails. Lord Emmott’s report, held at Nuffield College, Oxford was an important academic source for my book Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners and provides a yardstick for comparing the treatment of captives released this week. It is intriguing that many of the techniques used by the Cheka are still used by the Russian interrogators one hundred years on and that the experience of the journalist, Anzhela Slobodian is so reminiscent of Francis McCullagh’s time in Lubjanka jail told in Chapter 11.

A Moscow Prison for British Prisoners-of-War in 1920


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