Residents of the Ukrainian town of Izium search for dead loved ones in a nearby wooded graveyard as emergency workers continue to unearth what they say are hundreds of bodies found after forces Russia is driven out of the region.
The cause of death for those at the grave site, discovered last week, has yet to be determined, although residents say some died in an air strike. Ukrainian authorities said at least one of the bodies was handcuffed and had rope marks on their necks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said investigators had discovered new evidence of torture used on people buried in Izium, one of dozens of towns recaptured in northeastern Kharkiv after a raid. blitzkrieg earlier this month.
“More than 10 torture chambers have been found in the liberated parts of the Kharkiv region, in various cities and towns,” Zelenskiy said in a video address late Saturday.
“Torture is a common practice in the occupied territories. That’s what the Nazis did – this is what (the Russians) do,” he added. “They will respond the same way – both on the battlefield and in the courtroom.”
Clutching a neatly written list of names and numbers, resident Volodymyr Kolesnyk walks among the graves in search of loved ones he believes were killed in an air raid on an apartment building just before the train arrived. Izium fell to the Russians in April.
Kolesnyk says he knows his loved ones have been taken to the burial site and in several numbered graves.
He stopped in front of a cross numbered 199 and, after checking a list dug up by a local funeral company, carefully hung a small sign on it with the name of Yurii Yakovenko, his cousin.
He said, the one passing number 164, was his cousin’s wife. And 174, the mother of the cousin, the aunt of Kolesnyk.
“They buried the body in a bag, there was no coffin, there wasn’t anything. I wasn’t allowed in at first. (The Russian) said it was mined and asked to wait. And there was a lot in it. Some of them are in the woods, so it’s very scary to come here,” Kolesnyk told Reuters.
Moscow has not commented on the discovery of the graves. It routinely denies committing atrocities in war or targeting civilians.
The head of the pro-Russian government who abandoned the area earlier this month accused the Ukrainians of orchestrating atrocities in the city of Izium. Vitaly Ginchev told state TV station Rossiya-24: “I haven’t heard anything about the burial.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not responded to the accusations, but he has dismissed Ukraine’s swift counter-attack, viewing Russia’s invasion as a necessary step to thwart what he sees as a Western plot against Russia. divide Russia.
“The Kyiv authorities announced that they have launched and are conducting an active counter-offensive operation,” Putin said on Friday after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the Uzbek city of Samarkand. “Well, let’s see how it develops, how it ends,” he grinned.
Putin has warned Moscow will respond more strongly if its military is put under further pressure, raising fears he could one day use unconventional means such as nuclear or chemical weapons. small size.
US President Joe Biden, who would tell Putin if he was considering using such a weapon, replied: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. It will change the course of war unlike anything else told. from World War II.” He made the comment during a “60 Minutes” interview, a clip released by CBS on Saturday.
Some military analysts have warned Russia could also stage a nuclear incident at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest.
Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling around the plant that damaged buildings and disrupted power lines needed to keep it cool and safe.
One of the plant’s four main power lines has been repaired and is once again supplying the plant with electricity from the Ukrainian power grid, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Saturday.
Ukraine has also launched a major offensive to retake territory in the south, where it hopes will trap thousands of Russian troops cut off from their supplies on the west bank of the Dnipro River, and recapture Kherson, the major city. only Ukraine that Russia has captured intact since then. the beginning of the war.
Russian security forces opened fire on an armed criminal gang in central Kherson late Saturday and “neutralized” them, Tass news agency reported.
The RIA news agency cited a security source as saying the gang involved was a “spy and sabotage group” but gave no details.
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