September 25, 2022
Mass grave found in Ukraine’s Izyum city

Ukraine claims to have uncovered a mass grave of more than 440 people in Izum, a city in the northeastern region of Kharkiv re-captured last week in a lightning strike, a discovery carried out by the Russian military. Giving further evidence of war crimes committed.

The burial site, which officials believe contains the bodies of most civilians but also soldiers, has been the site of widespread mass executions by the Russian military since Moscow began its invasion nearly seven months ago. Added documented evidence. This includes the discovery of 422 civilian bodies in Buka following Russia’s retreat from the nearby city of Kyiv in March.

“Today, the world must see what the Russian military left behind. There are more than 400 graves in the forest near Izyum. We still don’t know exactly how many bodies are there,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday. The world must act. Russia should be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Zelensky said Ukrainian officials are collecting evidence at the site, where wooden crosses stand atop the graves, each containing several bodies. The United Nations Human Rights Office said on Friday it planned to send a delegation to the site.

“This is a genocide of the Ukrainian people!” Kharkiv region governor Oleg Sinegubov said on Friday.

“Of the bodies exhumed today, 99 per cent showed signs of violent death. His hands are several bodies tied behind his back, and a man is tied with a rope around his neck. Obviously, these people were tortured and killed. Among the buried are children too,” he added in a post on his Facebook page.

Zelensky promised to hold Russia accountable for the alleged crimes. Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, despite mounting evidence of mass executions and indiscriminate shelling of civilian buildings in cities such as Kharkiv and Mariupol.

Izyum.  Forensic technicians carry a body bag in a forest on the outskirts of
Forensic technicians carry a body bag in a forest on the outskirts of Izium © Sergei Bobok / AFP / Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the discovery of the mass grave.

“Russia leaves only death and suffering. You will not run. You will not hide. The vengeance will be justifiably terrible. For every Ukrainian, for every oppressed soul,” said Zelensky.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said of the reports: “It’s appalling, it’s counterproductive.” He said the discoveries were examples of Russia’s brutality in its war prosecution and that the US would continue to support efforts to document potential Russian war crimes.

On Zelensky’s repeated calls for the US to declare Russia a sponsor of terrorism, Kirby said US President Joe Biden has continued to do so.

“We think there are better options to hold Russia accountable and increase costs and consequences,” he said. Kirby said declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism could hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid, jeopardize deals to ship grain from Black Sea ports and ultimately limit Zelensky’s flexibility at the negotiating table. .

Anton Gerashchenko, a top adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry who visited Izium this week, told the Financial Times that residents who are now testifying were forced by the Russian military to dig graves and bury victims . In doing so, residents recorded 446 victims by scoring points for each on the cross. The administration is continuing the work of extracting the dead bodies.

“The bodies were buried without naming. , , There are mass graves under each cross,” he said.

Gerashchenko said some of the bodies were likely Ukrainian soldiers who tried to defend Izium as the Russians stormed the city at the start of the offensive. After Ukraine confirmed its occupation in early April, the city became an important stage in Russia’s attempt to seize all Donbass territory.

“Each city is likely to be captured by them [uncover] Another Buka,” said Gerashenko.

He said Ukraine welcomed international surveillance and investigation teams, as did war crimes investigations in Bucha and other areas from which Russian forces retreated after their failed attempt to capture Kyiv and surrounding areas. Went.

Gerashchenko cautioned that Izium, located “just 15 km from the Donbass front lines”, is dangerous and is within striking range of Russian artillery. Kupyansk, a railway hub north of Izium, and other areas in the Kharkiv region spanning thousands of square kilometers have been repeatedly hit by Russian attacks.

The Human Rights Ombudsman in Ukraine’s parliament, Dmitro Lubinets, estimated the total number of civilian torture and murders in the Russian-held Kharkiv region at more than 1,000.

Interfax-Ukraine quoted Lubinets as saying during a briefing on Friday, “If we are talking about the free zones of the Kharkiv region in general, it will be more than a thousand citizens of Ukraine, citizens in particular. In.”

As evidence was being gathered in Izium, Russia launched missile strikes on a dam for the third day in a row Kryviy Rih. central city of, Zelensky’s hometown. Ukrainian officials described the attacks as a “terrorist act”, intended to cause a massive influx of water from a reservoir along the Inhulets River. The flooding of the river threatens to cut off supply lines for Ukrainian troops advancing on Russian forces in the southern Kherson region.

Local supporters of Russians were reportedly killed in explosions at buildings in the Russian-held cities of Kherson and Luhansk in Ukraine’s Far East. Ukrainian authorities have not claimed responsibility for the Kherson incident, but have denied involvement in the Luhansk blast.

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