Residents of the Ukrainian town of Izium searched for dead relatives in a nearby wooded grave site as emergency workers continued to exhume what they said were hundreds of bodies found after Russian forces were driven from the region.
The causes of death for those at the grave site, discovered last week, have not yet been established, although residents say some died in an airstrike. Ukrainian authorities have said at least one of the bodies had tied hands and rope marks on the neck.
“Russia leaves behind only death and suffering," said President Volodymyr Zelensky as he commented on the mass burial site with about 450 graves recently discovered in liberated Izium.
"Killers. Butchers. Deprived of everything humane,” Zelensky said.
📷Kostyantyn Chernichkin pic.twitter.com/kwWt1iZPYY
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) September 17, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said investigators had discovered new evidence of torture used against the people buried in Izium, one of more than 20 towns retaken in the northeastern Kharkiv region after a lightning advance earlier this month.
“More than 10 torture chambers have already been found in the liberated areas of Kharkiv region, in various cities and towns,” he said in a video address late on Saturday.
“Torture was a widespread practice in the occupied territories. That is what the Nazis did – this is what [the Russians] do,” he added. “They will answer in the same way – both on the battlefield and in courtrooms.”
🇺🇦 I am just back from the mass graves site in Izium.
It is worse than anything you can imagine.
I can confirm that at least part of the people recently buried there were tortured and had violent deaths. pic.twitter.com/Du4uTgoGzP
— Emmanuelle Chaze (@EmmanuelleChaze) September 17, 2022
“They buried the bodies in bags, without coffins, without anything. I was not allowed here at first. [The Russians] said it was mined and asked to wait. And there were a lot of them in the woods, so it was scary to come here,” Volodymyr Kolesnyk, one of the city’s residents, told Reuters.
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