Residents of the Ukrainian city of Izium searched for dead relatives in a nearby wooded grave site, as emergency personnel said hundreds of bodies had been found after Russian forces were driven out of the area.
The cause of death has not yet been established for those at the grave site discovered last week, although residents say some were killed in the airstrike. Ukrainian officials have said at least one of the bodies had hand and rope marks tied to the neck.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said investigators have discovered new evidence of torture used against people buried in Izium, one of dozens of towns in northeast Kharkiv, after being struck by lightning earlier this month.
“More than 10 torture chambers have already been found in the free zones of the Kharkiv region, in different cities and towns,” Zelensky said in a video address late Saturday.
“Torture was a widespread practice in the occupied territories. That’s what the Nazis did – that’s what (the Russians) do,” he said. “They will respond in the same way – on the battlefield and in the courts.”
Grabbing a neatly written list of names and numbers, resident Volodymyr Kolesnik stepped between the graves, looking for relatives he said in an air raid on an apartment building shortly before the fall of Izium to Russian forces in April. were killed.
Kolesnik said he knew his relatives had been taken to the burial site and that some graves were marked with numbers.
He stopped in front of a cross marked with the number 199 and, after examining a list given to him by a local funeral company that digs graves, carefully hung a small sign on it with the name of his cousin Yuri Yakovenko. .
Cross number 164, he said, was his cousin’s wife. and 174, his cousin’s mother, Kolesnik’s aunt.
“They buried the bodies in bags, without coffins, without anything. I was not allowed here before. (The Russians) said that it was mined and asked to wait. And a lot of them in the forest So it was scary. To come here,” Kolesnik told Reuters.
Moscow denies torture
Moscow has not commented on the discovery of the tombs. It regularly denies committing atrocities in war or targeting civilians.
The head of the pro-Russian administration, which left the region earlier this month, accused Ukrainians of committing atrocities in the city of Izium. “I haven’t heard anything about burials,” Vitaly Ganachev told Rossiya-24 state television.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not responded to the allegations, but he dismissed Ukraine’s swift counter-offensive, a Western conspiracy to isolate Russia, as a necessary step to stop the Russian invasion.
“The Kyiv authorities announced that they have launched an active retaliation and are conducting an active counter-operation,” Putin said on Friday after a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Uzbek city of Samarkand. “Well, let’s see how it develops, how it ends,” he said with a grin.
Putin has warned that Moscow’s troops will respond more strongly if further pressure is put on them, raising concerns that it may at some point use unconventional means such as small nuclear or chemical weapons.
US President Joe Biden, what he would say to Putin if he were considering using such weapons, replied: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. It’s not like any other since World War II.” The opposite of thing will change the face of war.” He made the remarks in an interview for “60 Minutes”, a clip of which CBS released on Saturday.
Some military analysts have warned that Russia could also stage a nuclear incident at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest.
Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling around the plant, which damaged buildings and disrupted power lines needed to keep it cool and safe.
The UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday that one of the plant’s four main power lines had been repaired and was once again supplying the plant with electricity from the Ukrainian grid.
Ukraine has launched a major offensive to re-capture the area to the south, where it seeks to recapture Kherson, the only major Ukrainian force to have thousands of Russian troops cut off from supplies on the west bank of the Dniepro River. The city is retained by Russia. Beginning of war.
Russian security forces opened fire on an armed gang of criminals in the center of Kherson late Saturday and “neutralized” them, the Tass news agency reported.
The RIA news agency, citing a security source, said the gang involved was a “sabotage and reconnaissance group”, but gave no details.
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