On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense posted a photograph showing a box filled with gold dental crowns they claimed were extracted from Ukrainian victims in a "torture chamber" in the town of Pisky-Radkivski in Kharkiv province.
"A torture chamber in Pisky-Radkivski," wrote the Defense Ministry. "A box of gold dental crowns. A mini Auschwitz. How many more will be found in occupied Ukraine?" (Related: New report finds Ukrainian troops equally liable for nursing home massacre early in war with Russia.)
The so-called torture chamber was found in a cellar of a home, where locals were allegedly "kept in inhumane conditions" and were "intimidated, beaten and abused."
Ukrainian officials, including Anton Geraschchenko, an advisor to the minister of internal affairs, further claimed that Russian occupiers tortured Ukrainian residents by other means. This includes burying people alive and putting a burning rag into a gas mask and forcing villagers to wear it.
Since the beginning of Ukraine's counteroffensive in the Kharkiv, officials have claimed to find torture sites all over the province. The military even claims to have found at least 10 in the city of Izium alone.
The story regarding the "mini Auschwitz" torture chamber in Pisky-Radkivski was shared uncritically by multiple mainstream media outlets, spreading the story to millions of people all over the world.
But reporters for German-language media outlet BILD visited Pisky-Radkivski a day after Ukrainian officials and mainstream media spread claims of torture in the village. They found that the teeth did not come from dead or tortured villagers, but from patients of a local dentist.
"These teeth look like the ones from my cabinet," said Sergey, 60. "I'm the only dentist here. So if they were found here, they must be mine." He told BILD that the teeth are actually gold-colored stainless steel, adding that the teeth were likely used to intimidate locals.
"Nearby residents reported to me that the Russians apparently used these to scare people," said Sergey.
When asked by BILD if there's a chance the crowns came from dead people – villagers or Ukrainian soldiers – Sergey said the teeth came from people he has treated over the years. "I took those teeth out because they were bad," he said.
"Over the course of 30 years, I have removed tens of thousands of teeth. This is just a fraction of them. Sometimes I pull out five to eight teeth in one day. I have been doing this for 33 years," said Sergey.
Learn the truth about what's happening in Ukraine at UkraineWitness.com.
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