Ukrainian authorities say they found 440 bodies in mass graves in Russian-occupied city

IZIUM – Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky said this Thursday, 15, that a mass grave with buried bodies was found by authorities near the city of Izium, in the northeast of Ukraine. According to other authorities, around 440 bodies were buried at the site. Izium was recaptured by the Ukrainians recently, after having been occupied by Russian forces.

The most accurate information about the graves should not be available until this Friday, the 16th. “We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has caused”, declared Zelensky in his evening speech. This Wednesday, he was visiting Izium and witnessed the scenery left there.

The head of the investigation department of the regional police force in Kharkiv, Serhii Bolvinov, said the bodies will be exhumed and examined as part of an investigation into possible crimes committed by Russian forces in occupied territories in Ukraine.

Image shows residential area of ​​Izium, in northeastern Ukraine, hit by artillery during the war.  The site was under Russian occupation until last week.
Image shows residential area of ​​Izium, in northeastern Ukraine, hit by artillery during the war. The site was under Russian occupation until last week. Photograph: Sergei Kozlov / EFE

Bolvinov also claimed that the ditch found in Izium was “one of the largest found in a liberated city”.

Since last week, when Izium was retaken by the Ukrainians, more than 1,000 bodies have been found in the vicinity, according to the authorities. “We must say that this tragedy is even worse than the tragedy in Bucha,” where retreating Russian forces left at least 458 bodies scattered in the city, adviser to Ukraine’s Home Affairs Minister Anton Gerashchenko told BBC this Thursday.

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Ukrainian authorities also say there are other places in the Kharkiv region where bodies have been buried. In addition to Izium, Ukraine’s attorney general is also investigating possible war crimes in Zaliznichne, a recently liberated village in the region.

In August, researchers from the US State Department and Yale University said there were signs pointing to possible mass graves in some areas of eastern Donetsk, near sites that were part of a “triage system” used to process detainees. and prisoners.

Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Ievhen Enin said on Thursday that authorities had also found evidence that occupying Russian troops formed “torture chambers” in the cities they occupied. The chambers were used to arrest Ukrainian and foreign citizens in “completely inhumane conditions”.

He said that among those detained at one of the locations were students from an unspecified Asian country who were captured at a Russian checkpoint as they tried to leave for Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Enin did not specify where the students were held, although he cited the small towns of Balaklia and Volchansk as two locations where the alleged torture chambers were found.

“All these traces of war crimes are now carefully documented by us. And we know from Bucha’s experience that the worst crimes can only be exposed with time,” Enin said. /NYT, AP

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