Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko, whose life is being made into a film, has adopted 32 children and rescued dozens more from a life on the streets to save them from drugs and paedophiles
A sex offender with a battered and bloody face is shoved against a wall by a big man with a goatee.
The culprit looks scared, with the kind of glazed eyes you would expect to see in someone high on drugs.
But he’s not.
He’s been dragged through a manhole from a sewer where he was preying on children, paying them for sex so they could feed their deadly drug habit.
And the bomber jacket-wearing vigilante isn’t all he seems either.
Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko has a self-confessed unique outlook on life that has led him to take the law into his own, bear-sized hands on many occasions.
Dubbed Pastor Crocodile, the former Soviet army soldier has dished out his own form of tough love for the past two decades and rescued thousands of orphans from the drug-ravaged city of Mariupol, Ukraine.
Now the pugilistic priest’s remarkable story is being told in a documentary film called Almost Holy.
The apt title is taken from the moment Gennadiy dragged the sex offender to a police station.
As he orders the man to confess to sex crimes with youngsters barely in their teens, the offender pleads with the shoulder-shrugging officer.
Then gesturing to the clergyman, he said: “Tell them everything. You beat me. I thought you were holy."
Gennadiy replied: “Almost.”
In another remarkable scene from the film, Gennadiy angrily warns a man accused of rape : “Don’t force me to sin.”
But it’s not just criminals who have been getting his heavy-handed treatment.
Over the past 16 years, more than 3,500 people have been through his rehab clinic. Although not all of them have wanted to.
Many of the drug-addicted youngsters were rounded up and forced into mini-vans and taken to the ramshackle clinic he founded, called Republic Pilgrim.
The father-of-three has also adopted 32 children during that time - as Ukraine lurched from widespread drugs and alcohol addiction, and an AIDS epidemic to civil war.
The hero, nicknamed Crocodile Gennadiy after a Russian cartoon featuring a do-gooder reptile of the same name, opens up to the Mirror about his campaign to clean up his homeland.
Apologising for his broken English, he says: “If you see somebody has a big problem, you have to help.
“So when we had all these children living on the streets, taking drugs in man holes, I knew I had to do something.”
Gennadiy, 48, says he could identify with the trauma the youngsters had been through as he had battled to save his own parents from chronic alcoholism.
He says: “When I left the Soviet army, I tried to find a way of helping my parents who had an alcoholic addiction.
“There were times when I found them passed out and I would think they were dead until I felt a pulse.
"I had to find a way to help and we didn’t have a doctor or any medicine.
“So I think it’s helpful for me that I understand the feelings of these children. Lots of them had alcoholic parents like mine.”
With the collapse of the USSR, the Mafia grew in power and the former Soviet states were ravaged by drink and drugs.
Fresh from helping his own family, the newly-ordained protestant pastor began helping the countless youngsters who had become hooked on narcotics.
He says: “When we started we were finding children on the streets no one wanted to help. Sometimes the children didn’t want to be helped either.
“But if a teenager is living on the street and taking drugs, you have got to take them. You have got to stop their addiction.
“People should have freedom, they must have a life, health and education.
“But when a teenager uses his freedom to kill himself with drugs, we must use power to stop him.
“It was at its worst around 2006. We took many children off the streets.
“Drugs were so cheap. There was a factory in Donetsk producing them.
“When children were given a little bit of money to take to school for some bread or a piece of cake, it was enough to buy drugs.
"Maybe a dollar would get them eight tablets, but it was enough. It was a really terrible situation.”
His eyebrow-raising tactics of rounding up children and getting them away from the dealers is plain to see in the archive footage used in the film.
In one clip, pale-faced children not much older than 10 are led into a room in his rehab centre and made to show their forearms, which are covered with the tell-tale needle tracks of an addict.
Gennadiy can be heard barking at them to strip and then get washed.
In another shocking clip, a dying child is dragged into a room full of other orphans on a ragged mattress covered in a blanket, with his blistered, infected bare feet poking out of the bottom.
As he gasps for breath, Gennadiy admonishes the youngster, telling him to shop his dealer – “because he’s killed him”.
Then he turns to the other children in the room, ordering those who have shared needles with the skeletal figure to put their hands up.
When a handful of them nervously do so, the disgusted pastor tells them if he were God, he wouldn’t let them live.
Then he shouts: “Call an ambulance and get them to hospital quickly”.
The next stark image to flash up on the screen is of the child’s open casket funeral. Alongside it is a old photo of the lad, smiling and healthy.
A bullish Gennadiy says: “I don’t need permission to do good deeds.”
But he is clearly also full of anguish, saying: “I hate this when I must use power.
"I don’t like this. People should talk to each other. But I have to use power when someone is killing themselves.
“When I started people said I should be building a church. They were saying, ‘You should be taking service on Sunday’.
“But who would help these children? I know I should be preaching the gospel, or doing a baptism.
"Sometimes in my country though, I had to be like a policeman, sometimes I had to be like a prison.
“Many hundreds of nights we were on the streets finding children without homes. They all had their own terrible stories.
“Roma was five, sitting out on the street at two o’clock in the morning.
"He was asking me for money, so I told him there was some in the car that he could have if he went and sat inside.
“Then I locked the door and drove off with him screaming, ‘No, no’.
“A taxi driver thought someone was kidnapping the boy, drove after us and got out with a baseball bat.
“Then when I got out of the car and he realised it was me, he said, ‘Pastor Gennadiy. God bless you’.
“Now this boy, who I adopted is all of Ukraine boxing champion at 16.”
Gennadiy’s crusade has inevitably brought him into conflict with powerful crooks and he’s been threatened on many occasions – sometimes by armed thugs.
He says: “One day they stopped my car and told me they would kill me. It was not a joke. They had connections. We had someone threaten us with guns.”
But the larger-than-life character is still here, despite civil war in Ukraine. And he is confident that he has helped battle the terrible drugs epidemic.
He says: “I have no doubt that it’s still possible to find drugs in my city but it’s not as easy as it was. Today if you want to buy drugs, it will be expensive.”
As Gennadiy’s fame grew, his war against drug dealers spread to other cities with priests and police coming to him asking for advice.
He adds: “Ukraine may not be the best place to live, but it’s my country and I love it. And this is my city.
“I hope my life leaves a mark.”
Explaining why he keeps battling on, he quotes Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic novel The Brothers Karamazov and declares: “I’m not rebelling against my God, I merely refuse to accept his world”.