Vladimir Putin’s men were forcing captured Brits to desperately call every UK government department including the DVLA to try and secure a prisoner exchange in a humiliating moment for the tyrant. Aiden Aslin, 28, was among five British prisoners in Russia who had been captured during the invasion of Ukraine and released last Wednesday, after Saudi Arabia said it had brokered an exchange.
Mr Aslin, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, was captured while fighting in Mariupol – but has now revealed just how desperate the Kremlin was to secure a deal for his release with the West. According to the Sun, Mr Aslin laughed as he explained that Putin’s goons had demanded he ring up the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, among others, to try and secure a prisoner exchange.
He told the publication: “You couldn’t make it up. They were getting me to ring every single government department, including the DVLA and the Environment Agency. I told them a call centre worker issuing driving licences wasn’t going to be able to contact Boris Johnson on their behalf.
“But they wouldn’t have any of it.”
He and fellow captive Shaun Pinner were threatened with the death penalty unless Putin’s demands were met.
Mr Pinner also explained that he was facing 20 years in jail or death, after Russia charged him with being an “illegal combatant”.
He added that he and his fellow captives were “scared”.
Bizarrely, Kremlin henchmen wanted Mr Pinner to call columnist Karen Brady to try and convince her to put pressure on the government to secure an exchange.
The soldier commented: “Desperate men do desperate things.”
Meanwhile, Mr Aiden told of how he was “treated worse than a dog” and kept in solitary confinement for five months during his time as a Russian captive.
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He said the prisoners were forced to sing the Russian national anthem every morning, adding: “If you didn’t sing it, you would get punished for it. You would get beaten.”
Mr Aiden said that he, along with Mr Pinner and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoun, were put on trial in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and told they faced the death penalty. Referring to a time he was stabbed in the back with a knife, Mr Aslin said: “I knew there was a very high possibility I was about to be killed.”
He was then asked by a Russian who was guarding him: “Do you want a quick death or a beautiful death?”
Answering a quick death, Mr Aslin was told: “You’re going to have a beautiful death and I’m going to make sure it’s a beautiful death.”
He added that he had been beaten for having a tattoo of a Ukrainian trident, and for another which marked his time in Syria.
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He also described the brutal conditions of his prison in Russia, explaining that he was kept in a two-man cell with four people, forced to sleep on a mat infested with lice. Mr Aiden added that they were forced to use bottles to relieve themselves, as they “couldn’t go to the toilet properly because we didn’t have a toilet”.
While there was a window in the cell, it had “nothing to protect us from the outside elements”, and the prisoners were left freezing cold. Talking about when his passport was checked, “as soon as I said Great Britain I got a straight punch to the nose” he said.
Mr Aslin said the only time he was let out was to do propaganda or take phone calls.