Ukraine’s President accuses Russia of war crimes in Izyum
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday accused Russia of committing war crimes in the recently liberated town of Izyum, in the northeastern Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian workers carry bodies that were were unearthed from graves in Izyum.Photo: PAP/EPA/OLEG PETRASYUK
On Friday Zelensky called on the international community to declare Russia “a state sponsor of terrorism” as exhumations began at a mass burial site near the town.
Ukraine recaptured Izyum from Russian forces as part of its successful counter-offensive around Kharkiv.
Ukraine’s president said: “We have already discovered 450 bodies, but there are more burial sites of many tortured people – even whole families, scattered in various places.”
„In Izyum people were beaten to death and simply tossed into pits dug in the ground,” he added.
’Another mass burial of killed people’
In a video addres on Friday, Zelensky stressed: “Today, the world should see what the Russian army left behind – another mass burial of killed people: children and adults, civilians and military. Tortured, shot, killed by shelling.”
He said that “We still don’t know the exact number of bodies there. The exhumation has just begun,” as cited by the Ukrinform news agency.
„Russia must be recognised as a state sponsor of terrorism. Otherwise, its terror will not be stopped,” he added.
“Action must be taken so that Bucha, Mariupol, and Izyum do not happen again,” Zelensky stressed.
He also said that „Russia leaves only death and suffering,” vowing that those responsible for the deaths of the people buried in the graves near Izyum would face “justly dreadful retribution,” the PAP news agency reported.
Evidence of torture
Zelensky also stated that investigators searching through the mass burial site near Izyum have found evidence that some of the dead had been tortured, with some bodies having broken limbs and ropes around their necks, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Ukraine’s president said: “[T]he world must see it. The world must know that Russia leaves such traces of atrocities, traces of terror, everywhere in the occupied territory. You saw Bucha. You saw Mariupol. Now it’s Izyum.”
According to Serhiy Bolvinov, the head of the investigation department of the primary department of the National Police of Kharkiv Region, the Russian military organized torture and concentration camps for residents in Balakliya, Izyum District, where they kept at least 40 people as captives, periodically torturing them.
According to Serhiy Bolvinov, the head of the investigation department of the primary department of the National Police of Kharkiv Region, the Russians organized a headquarters in the “police” department in the now liberated city.
Writing on social media on September 13, Bolvinov added that Russian occupiers set up a prison and a torture chamber for residents in the department’s basement and the building opposite.
They held at least 40 people as captives all the time.
The Russian occupiers used local collaborators to try and find people who served or had relatives in the Ukrainian army.
They were also looking for people who helped the Ukrainian military to destroy Russian militants and weapon depots.
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) agency said on Friday it would seek to send its officials to investigate the circumstances of the deaths of the people whose bodies were being exhumed near Izyum.
Jan lipavsky, the Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, which is presiding over the EU until the end of the year, called „for the speedy establishment of a special international tribunal that will prosecute the crime of aggression.”
„Russia left behind mass graves of hundreds of shot and tortured people in the Izyum area. In the 21st century, such attacks against the civilian population are unthinkable and abhorrent,” Lipavsky said in a tweet.