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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Swedish Captives Say Bible Eased Their Ordeal

The missionaries exercised daily during their Caucasus imprisonment.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- A pair of Swedish missionaries kidnapped in southern Russia survived their six-month ordeal by exercising rigorously and memorizing Bible versus, they said in their first interview since their release last week.

Daniel and Paulina Brolin said in an interview published Monday that they were kept in a dim, unheated cellar since their abduction on Jan. 8 and were not allowed to go outside.

They said in the interview with Dagen, a religious newspaper, they followed a disciplined routine of physical exercise during their imprisonment.

Paulina laughed in the interview as she told how she did some 2,000 buttocks exercises daily. When they were captured, the Brolins were carrying an English-language Bible from which they spent hours memorizing long passages.

They used two computer disks as a soap dish, a knife and an oil lamp. The wick for the lamp was made from a piece of underwear. The two were able to stay very clean and boiled all water before they drank it, they said.

The Brolins, who had been training to become Christian missionaries for the Pentecostal church, said they suffered extreme cold in the winter and heat in recent months.

They could tell if it was day or night so they counted days with marks on their cell wall and played games to help pass the time, they told Dagen, which means The Day.

"We have not been sick a single day, not even had colds," Paulina, 23, said in the interview.

They were allowed to cook their own meals, which consisted of bread, rice, potatoes, onions, macaroni, tea, salt and sugar. They ate at about the same time every day.

"Before every meal we asked God to bless the food so that what we did not have we would get later," said Daniel, 22.

Doctors who examined the Brolins said they suffered no physical injuries.

The Brolins denied reports that shots were fired during their release, which took place on Russian territory near the Dagestan border. They said they understood freedom was near when they were taken from their cell wearing hoods over their heads.

"We held each other the whole time when we were sitting in darkness under the hoods," Paulina was quoted as saying.

They did not resist the abduction which took place as they were walking to the flat they rented in central Makhachkala, the capital of the mainly Moslem Dagestan republic which borders breakaway Chechnya. Their abductor first asked them for documents and then forced them into a car.

The Brolins, who both have family members who also worked as overseas missionaries, were now in a secret place in Sweden relaxing with their parents, Swedish news agency TT said.

A spate of abductions in the Chechen region has soured the uneasy peace since the 1994-96 war in which Chechen separatist forces humiliated Russian troops, forcing their withdrawal.

With Chechnya's economy in ruins since the end of the war, kidnapping foreigners has become a booming industry in a region controlled by shady armed groups answerable to no one.