“I was mentally ready to die,” Krypychenko, 36, tells The Daily Signal in an interview following his release Feb. 20 after 195 days as a prisoner of war in the hands of combined Russian separatist forces.
“It was a wonder that I lived,” he adds.
Months into his captivity, while isolated in solitary confinement and with his body covered in wounds from bouts of torture, Krypychenko turned to his religious faith, and even a little humor, to avoid succumbing to despair.
“I felt grateful to God,” he says. “I’m a believer. I was grateful that God saved me from the worst. I was still alive at least. But the hardest part was not knowing what to expect each day.”
In the dank solitude of his cell, Krypychenko would laugh to himself as he recalled funny childhood memories. In particular, he remembered a trip to a zoo as a boy when a friend stuck his fingers inside a bear cage.
“The bear bit off one of his fingers,” Krypychenko says, smiling. “At the time, it was horrible. But when I thought back on it, it seemed so funny for some reason. Humor is helpful in all situations.”
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The interrogations were “very rude,” Krypychenko says, as he describes how his captors tortured him with electric shocks and beat him with their fists and wooden planks.
The first interrogation lasted for about three hours, he explains, but they got shorter as time went on. He was never threatened with execution during those sessions, but the guards occasionally made offhand death threats.
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His captors held Krypychenko in solitary confinement for the entirety of the 195 days. They allowed him to leave his cell and go outside under open skies only two times, each at night for about two minutes, so that he could smoke a cigarette.