Residents in Ukraine's southern city of Kherson call the two-story police station "The Hole." Vitalii Serdiuk, a pensioner, said he was lucky to make it out alive.

"I hung on," the retired medical equipment repairman said as he recounted his ordeal in Russian detention two blocks from where he and his wife live in a tiny Soviet-era apartment.

The green-roofed police building at No. 3, Energy Workers' Street, was the most notorious of several sites where, according to more than half a dozen locals in the recently recaptured city, people were interrogated and tortured during Russia's nine-month occupation. Another was a large prison.