President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday night that Ukrainian authorities found a mass burial site near the northeastern city recently occupied by Russian forces.
“A mass grave of people was found in Izium, Kharkiv region. Necessary processes have already started there. More information – clear, verifiable information – should be available tomorrow,” Zelensky said in his nightly televised address.
Associated Press reporters visit the site in a forest outside Iseum on Thursday. A mass grave had a marker saying it contained the bodies of 17 Ukrainian soldiers. It was surrounded by hundreds of individual graves and only crosses to mark them.
Zelensky called for the names of other Ukrainian cities where officials said Russian soldiers left behind mass civilian graves and evidence of alleged war crimes.
“Bucha, 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, ”he said.
Russia’s military left Izium and other parts of the Kharkiv region last week amid a surprise retaliatory strike by Ukraine. Zelensky made a rare visit on Wednesday to see the national flag hoisted at Izium’s city hall outside Ukraine’s capital.
Sergei Bolvinov, a senior investigator for Ukrainian police in the eastern Kharkiv region, told British TV broadcaster Sky News that more than 440 bodies were found in a pit near Izium after Kyiv troops entered. He described the tomb as “one of the largest burials”. Sites in any one free city. ,
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“We know that some (of the people buried in the pit) were shot, some died of artillery fire, from so-called mine-blast trauma. Some died from airstrikes. Also , We have information that a lot of dead bodies have not yet been identified, ”said Bolvinov.
Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, Yevgen Enin, said Thursday night that evidence of the setting up of several “torture rooms” in the possession of Russian soldiers, where both Ukrainian citizens and foreigners were detained “under absolutely inhumane conditions”, was found in Kyiv. were found in recaptured cities and towns during the extensive advance of the U.S. in Kharkiv region.
Said in an interview with Radio NV of Ukraine, “We have already learned about the exhumation of individual bodies, not only with the scars of a violent death, but also of torture – cut off ears, etc. This. is just the beginning.” Their description matches at least half a dozen reports made by Kharkiv regional police representatives since last weekend.
They claimed that one of those sites were students from an unspecified Asian country who were captured at a Russian checkpoint as they were trying to leave for Ukrainian-controlled territory.
Enin did not specify where the students were held, although he named the small towns of Balaklia and Volchansk as two places where the alleged torture chambers were found. His account could not be independently verified immediately.
“All these traces of war crimes have now been carefully documented by us. And we know from Buka’s experience that the worst crimes can only be uncovered over time,” Enin said in reference to the Kyiv suburb, where the bodies of hundreds of civilians were discovered following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the area in March. was done.
Earlier on Thursday, Zelensky said that during the five months the Russians occupied the region, they “only destroyed, only deprived, only snatched away. They left behind devastated villages; some of them even a single one.” There is no damaged house. The occupants turned schools into rubbish dumps, and demolished churches, literally into toilets.
Hanna Ahirova in Kyiv and Joanna Koslowska in London contributed reporting.