Almost all the bodies exhumed from mass graves in the recently liberated city of Izyum in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region show clear evidence of torture including violent castrations, investigators have declared.
Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Yevheny Yenin spoke of the horrendous treatment murdered civilians endured before their deaths in a harrowing admission to news site Suspilne yesterday.
‘We continue to find bodies with signs of violent death – there are many of them,’ Yenin said.
‘These include broken ribs and cracked skulls, men with bound hands, broken jaws, and severed genitalia.’
The minster, who previously worked as Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor general, said 146 bodies were exhumed from a mass grave on September 19 alone – one of several mass burial sites found throughout Izyum and surrounding settlements.
It comes as Kharkiv regional administration police chief Sergey Bolvinov shared images of Izyum police station, which he claimed had been converted by Russian occupiers into a torture centre.
A team of forensic investigators were dispatched to the station to gather evidence of torture and found a series of implements, including electric cables they believe were used to brutalise Ukrainian prisoners.
Ukrainian authorities exhume the bodies of people killed as a result of war after Russian Forces withdrawal in Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 19, 2022
Emergency workers load a body into a refrigerator truck after its exhumation in the recently retaken area of Izyum, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022
Kharkiv regional administration police chief Sergey Bolvinov shared images of Izyum police station, which he claimed had been converted by Russian occupiers into a torture centre
Electric cables are pictured inside an evidence bag after forensic investigators suspected they were used to torture Ukrainian prisoners
More images from inside the police station show notes pinned to the doors of cells where prisoners were held and the inside of another cell allegedly used to house and torture Ukrainian civilians
Izyum was seen as a key strategic position by Russian troops and as such was the scene of bitter fighting which destroyed much of the city
Forensics carry body bags in a forest near Izyum, eastern Ukraine, on September 19, 2022, where Ukrainian investigators have uncovered more than 440 graves after the city was recaptured from the Russians
Oleg Synehubov, governor of Kharkiv region, confirmed Yenin’s statements and said the exhumed bodies included two children.
‘Some of the dead have signs of a violent death. There are bodies with tied hands and traces of torture. The deceased were also found to have explosive, shrapnel and stab wounds,’ the governor wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Some 450 graves have been found in Izyum and the surrounding region, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed, as a flood of images were released showing forensic experts, dressed in white protective suits and wearing rubber gloves, working methodically to exhume and identify the bodies.
Bolvinov said the great majority of the bodies appeared to be civilians.
Images and footage released by the police chief on social media networks showed the dingy cells of Izyum police station, which was allegedly converted into a torture chamber by Russian forces.
‘Investigators are conducting a review of logs with a list of detainees which were kept by the raiders, as well as instruments of torture,’ Bolvinov wrote.
‘Electric cables have already been found… Each cell where people were kept will be well-studied – DNA samples and fingerprints are taken, and a database of evidence is collected for the court.
‘People were kept in dark basement cells from several weeks to months, not even always understanding what exactly the occupiers wanted from them.’
This basement in the Cossak Lopan region of Kharkiv doubled as a torture chamber staffed by Russian occupiers, according to Ukrainian officials
This Soviet-era military telephone was allegedly used as a power source for a yellow wire which was connected to metal clips to electrocute prisoners during interrogation in Cossack Lopan, Kharkiv region
A woman collects wood for heating from a destroyed school where Russian forces were based in the recently retaken area of Izyum, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022
The wreckage of vehicles among the rubble of destroyed buildings is pictured in Izyum
Russian authorities meanwhile accused Ukraine of making up the reports of mass graves in and around Izyum.
‘These are lies,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, adding Moscow ‘will stand up for the truth in this story’.
The Kremlin’s attempt to shirk responsibility for the atrocities committed by its troops in Izyum comes after Moscow repeatedly denied Russian soldiers had slaughtered hundreds of civilians in Bucha earlier in the war.
The town on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital was reclaimed by Ukrainian forces in late March and early April after the Russian army chose to retreat from the region and refocus its efforts on seizing the eastern Donbas region.
Hundreds of civilians were found murdered in the streets and a huge mass grave was uncovered in the grounds of a famed cathedral – but Russia steadfastly denied its forces were responsible despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
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