Mass grave found in city recaptured from Russian forces, says Zelensky

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A Ukrainian official has said a mass grave, reportedly containing 440 bodies, was found recently near a city occupied by the Russian military.

Regional police officer Serhi Bolvinov said Thursday that the site of the eastern city of Izium also contained bodies of people killed in shelling and airstrikes.

Mr Bolvinov, chief police investigator for the Kharkiv region, told Sky News that all bodies would be forensically examined.

“I can say that this is one of the largest burial sites in a big city in the free (areas) … 440 bodies were buried in one place,” he said.

Commenting on the discovery in his nightly televised address, President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “A mass grave of people was found in Izyum, Kharkiv region.

“The necessary procedures have already started there. More information – clear, verifiable information – should be available tomorrow.”

Thousands of Russian soldiers fled Izium over the weekend.

Mr. Zelensky placed the blame on Russia and compared the discovery in Buka, on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv, to the early stages of the invasion by Russian forces in late February.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused the Russian military of committing war crimes there.

“Butch, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izium. Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable for it. The world must put Russia on real responsibility for this war,” Mr. Zelensky said.

Russia’s military left Izium and other parts of the Kharkiv region last week amid a surprise retaliatory strike by Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Mr Zelensky made a rare visit to see the national flag at Izium’s city hall outside Ukraine’s capital.

Russia has yet to comment on allegations of mass graves in Izium. It has repeatedly denied that it targets civilians or commits war crimes.

Additional reporting by agencies

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