Ukrainian Baptist Children’s Pastor Tortured for Faith in Russian Captivity


My name is Azat and I am 41 years old. I do volunteer work for churches and through the churches helping those who had to flee the occupation.

 We fed people, did laundry, and took in residents of the besieged city Mariupol. Later we were also involved its evacuation.

We sheltered members of the military, medics, and families – men, women and children – who had been subjected to captivity, violence and abuse.

On my twenty-fifth trip into Mariupol, Russian security services targeted me and they took me prisoner. They arrested me at a checkpoint and took me to a local commandant’s office, and then the next day to a basement in the city of Berdyansk, where I would spend 43 days.

On the very first day, they began torturing me.


They’d asked me where the weapons and the partisans were. I had a bag on my head and my hands where handcuffed to my legs, electric wires were connected to my genitals. They beat me with batons, an iron pipe, a woden stick .


They mocked me and asked me how I became a traitor to the faith of my fathers and grandfathers by becoming Baptist. I am a Baptist and for Russians, Baptists are American spies. They call us “foreign agents”.


As they electrocuted me, they demanded I tell them whom I serve?  I told them: “I serve God,” and then they tortured me more, asking which God do I serve. To this, I responded “The Holy Trinity: the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.” Well, at this they laughed and beat me so badly that they thought that I was dead.


When they threw me on the floor, I just laid there for what seemed like an eternity. After being applied electric shocks, one becomes insanely thirsty. So I prayed it would rain so the rainwater might quench my thirst. Then it really did, it rained and did not stop, and in that moment I truly knew that my God was with me.

As a result of the Russians’ abuse, I couldn’t move for 12 days. My leg was punctured, meat from the bone fell off, my eardrums burst from the electricity, my teeth were knocked out and my internal organs were damaged.