Ukraine Says Hundreds of Graves Discovered in Liberated Izyum
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that it has found hundreds of graves at a mass burial site in Izyum, a city recently recaptured from Russian forces.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that it has found hundreds of graves at a mass burial site in Izyum, a city recently recaptured from Russian forces, according to BBC News.
Many of the wooden crosses that were discovered had numbers marked on them. It is, however, not yet clear what happened to the victims, but many likely could have died from shelling and a lack of access to proper health care.
As reported by CNN, Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications said on Thursday that some of the graves were still “fresh” and that the corpses buried there were “mostly civilians.”
Ukrainian authorities confirmed that they would start exhuming some of the estimated 450 graves later on Friday.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian and international journalists would be shown the mass burial site.
“We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to,” he said.
“Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izyum … Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable for that,” he added.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Zelenskyy, noted that “many places of mass burials” have been discovered in some liberated areas like Izyum.
“We saw many places where people were tortured,” he claimed, per BBC News.
“We saw wildly frightened people who were kept without light, without food, without water, and without the right to justice. Because there was no authority there, there were only people with weapons,” Podolyak continued.
In April, Izyum, which sits near the border between the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, was subject to intense Russian artillery attacks and was considered an important hub for the Russian military during its five months of occupation. Ukrainian forces took back control of the city on Saturday.
However, much of Izyum lies in ruins, with one local politician telling reporters that roughly 80 percent of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed and bodies are still being found in the rubble.
A number of other cities in the Kharkiv region were liberated earlier this month amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive that appeared to have surprised Russian troops.
Kyiv has accused Russia of committing more than 21,000 possible war crimes in Ukraine, including the rape and killing of civilians.
The Russian government has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and has claimed that any evidence of such war crimes has been fabricated.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.