Date of abduction: March 19, 2022
Place of abduction: Kinburn Spit, Mykolaiv region
The Russians took 35-year-old Serhiy Leibak prisoner after they occupied his native Kinburn Spit, a nature reserve in southern Ukraine, following the start of a full-scale invasion. Before the full-scale war, Serhii lived in the village of Pokrovske with his wife, Khrystyna, and two children. He was a nature conservation inspector in the Sviatoslav’s White Coast National Park. On March 19, 2022, the Russians came to his house when Serhiy was at work. His wife suggests that the occupiers might have been interested in the pickup trucks their husbands were driving, as the vehicles were suitable for transporting military cargo.
After her husband disappeared, Khrystyna had no information about whether he was alive or where he was. She and her young children had to flee the Russian occupation alone on a tiny boat in a stormy sea.
Every day, Khrystyna looked through hundreds of prisoner photos she found online to see if she could find a familiar face. Only in September 2022 did she find a photo of her abducted husband. “Serhiy looked terrible, had bruises on his face, an injured blue hand, which he used to hold a sign with his name on it,” Khrystyna recalls. She found people who had seen Serhiy in the detention center in Crimea. Later, she learned Leibak had been transferred to a pre-trial detention center in Taganrog. Later, a military man released on exchange told Khrystyna that he had been with her husband in a pre-trial detention center in the Russian city of Ryazhsk, Ryazan region, until February 16, 2023. According to the soldier, civilian prisoners are held together with military prisoners. The cells are overcrowded, and the hostages are poorly fed and often tortured. In addition, neither lawyers nor representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross have access to Ukrainian prisoners.