This article was written by Fox News Radio’s Devon Kelly.
The coterie of men who crossed the Ukrainian border last week claiming to be migrants from Belarus claims they were forced to act on orders from local authorities.
Some 24 men who claim to have been part of the incident have since provided names, dates and addresses to Ukrainian authorities, revealing links between the migrants and local government and saying they had been “prepared for work in the construction industry,” according to the Associated Press.
Speaking to reporters at the two-story office building on a country road off the main highway, one of the migrants described a meeting with a number of “madmen” who offered to take them to the Ukrainian border on the promise they could get a free truck to get to Italy and other European countries. But while they were in Belarus, one of the men had a friend who knew someone in a city near the Ukrainian border, who in turn turned over a package that contained a “cordial cable and wire cutters.”
The migrants told authorities they were then taken to the border where they were handcuffed and told to stand on the side of the road while they waited for other migrants to cross. The migrants allege that two of the men refused to cross the border, so they were brutally beaten, tied up with wires and forced to stand outside their vehicle.
Following their meeting with the men, on Wednesday they told AP, they were let off the hook when they realized they were caught by border guards after crossing the border.
One member of the group said his shirt was cut off, and he had his tooth punched in by a group of migrants before he was transported to a local police station. Later, the migrants say they were told the best they could do was leave the country, either in the form of a bus, a taxi or a bus carrying passengers to Belarus. But they said they were refused to leave and were told it would be more difficult to leave on a bus and then get back on another bus, which would also take them to Belarus.
Ukrainian authorities have not provided any details about the incident and have not commented on the migrants’ claims. The migrants have been charged with crossing the border illegally, which under law has been punishable by deportation.
Click here for more from the Associated Press.