Ukraine says hundreds of bodies found in mass burial site
Agencies | Kyiv
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Ukrainian officials said they had found a mass burial site with hundreds of bodies in territory recaptured from Russian forces, in what President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called proof of war crimes by the invaders.
Zelenskiy told Reuters in an interview many Ukrainians were also buried in other sites in the northeast and appealed for foreign powers to step up weapons supplies, saying the outcome of the war hinged on their swift delivery.
“As of today, there are 450 dead people, buried. But there are others, separate burials of many people. Tortured people. Entire families in certain territories,” Zelenskiy said in his presidential office yesterday. The head of the pro-Russian administration which abandoned the area last week dismissed the accounts of the burials outside the city of Izium and accused Ukrainians of stage-managing atrocities.
“I have not heard anything about burials in Izium,” Vitaly Ganchev told Rossiya-24 state television. Outside the city yesterday, men in white overalls were digging out bodies at the site in a forest where around 200 makeshift wooden crosses were scattered among trees. Some 20 white body bags could be seen.
“We are at the site of the mass burial of people, civilians who were buried here, and now according to our information they all have the signs of violent death,” Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synehubov said at the site.
“There are bodies with hands tied behind (their backs). Each fact will be investigated and will be properly and legally evaluated,” Synehubov said. If the numbers of bodies are confirmed, the site in Izium, a former Russian front-line stronghold, would be the biggest mass burial found in Europe since the aftermath of the 1990s Balkan wars.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not immediately respond to the accusations, and has yet to comment on the battlefield setback suffered by his forces this month. Ukrainian officials say 9,000 sq km (3,400 sq miles) have been retaken, about the size of the island of Cyprus.
But Putin defended his operations in Ukraine, saying yesterday he had sent his troops into Ukraine to prevent Western plans to break up Russia. Speaking at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and discussing the war publicly for the first time since Ukraine routed Russian troops in the Kharkiv region last week, Putin threatened strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure, and said: “We will see how (Ukraine’s counteroffensive) ends.”
Russia regularly denies targeting civilians during what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine and has said in the past that accusations of human rights abuses are a smear campaign. In Kupiansk, a northeastern railway junction city whose partial capture by Kyiv’s forces on Saturday cut Russia’s supply lines and led to the swift collapse at the front, small units of Ukrainian troops were securing a nearly deserted ghost town.
A formerly Russian-occupied police station had been hastily abandoned. Russian flags and a portrait of Putin lay on the floor amid broken glass. Records had been torched. Behind the steel doors of the station’s jail cells there was blood on the floor and stains on the mattresses.