Ukraine investigates the appearance of more than 400 graves in the liberated city of Izium | International
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A wooded area in Izium, a town in northeastern Ukraine recently recovered from Russian hands by local troops, is the latest site where the kyiv government has announced the existence of a mass burial of war victims. An investigation is already open and is in the hands of the police and forensics to obtain the details of these deaths. A person in charge of the security forces has reported the discovery of more than 440 bodies, which were buried individually. In the images that have begun to be published in the local press and shared on social networks, several soldiers can be seen around numerous wooden crosses, some of them numbered. Similar scenes have been repeated throughout this war in other cities such as Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, or Bucha, in the center.
“I can say that here is one of the largest graves in a liberated city, with more than 440 graves,” said Oleh Kotenko, head of the Kharkov region Police investigation department, in statements to the Sky News network. . Thanks to the ongoing investigation, he adds, they already have data on some of the victims. Several died from gunshots, others from artillery fire and others from mine explosions, but many of the bodies have yet to be unearthed and therefore the circumstances in which they died are unknown. “Russia is leaving a trail of death everywhere and must be held responsible,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday night.
According to information from a team of journalists from Agence France Presse at the scene, among the works being carried out by the Ukrainian authorities is the examination of a tomb containing the bodies of 17 Ukrainian soldiers, marked with a cross. bearing the inscription “Ukrainian army, 17 people. Izium, from the morgue.”
Likewise, another 47 bodies have been located in the rubble of a three-story building that is in ruins, supposedly due to a Russian bombardment, according to Europa Press reports. Ukrainian Interior Ministry spokesman Anton Gerashchenko has pointed out that several residential buildings have been completely destroyed. In fact, he estimates that the definitive death toll, once the debris is finished, could be close to a thousand, which would be double that of Bucha.
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The commissioner for Human Rights in the Ukrainian Parliament, Dimitro Lubinets, has pointed out in a message on his account on the social network Facebook that the Russian forces “have destroyed more than 70% of the buildings” in Izium. The UN Human Rights Office has reported that it is considering launching a monitoring mission to verify the mass burial of people in this city.
The dead end up being a huge source of information. This is the case in cases like those of Bucha, where dozens of bodies were found when the invading troops withdrew, and other towns in the belt that surrounds kyiv, the capital. That was the first objective of the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24. The battle for the kyiv region lasted just over a month. The area of more than 8,000 square kilometers now liberated in the Kharkov region, bordering Russia, has been under the yoke of invaders for more than six months, so local authorities believe there is much to find out and investigate, as recognized by the Governor Oleh Syehubov.
Findings like this one from Izium open a new window on the investigations that the kyiv authorities are launching into possible war crimes in the areas they are liberating. EL PAÍS has verified how police forces, the Ministry of the Interior and the Attorney General’s Office have already been deployed in these recovered towns to try to collect all the information necessary to purge responsibilities. In different points, with the help of the testimony of the neighbors, corpses that were buried in improvised graves during the occupation are being unearthed.
The Balakliia police station was for the past half a year the headquarters of the Russian troops in that town. The cells of the detainees were used to hold dozens of prisoners who were interrogated and tortured, as Ayrtom, 47, who was arrested for 46 days and received electric shocks for being the brother of a soldier, told this newspaper last Tuesday. .
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