A mass burial site has been discovered in Izium, a city in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region that was abandoned by the Russian forces as a result of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Serhiy Bolvinov, the chief police investigator for the Kharkiv region, told Sky News.
“We know that some were killed [shot dead], some died because of artillery fire, so-called mine explosion traumas. Some died because of airstrikes. Also we have information that a lot of bodies have not been identified yet. So the reasons of death will be established during the investigations,” he said.
Investigators say that there are both civilians and military officers among the dead. All bodies will be exhumed and taken away for forensic examination.
Current Time TV published photos from the mass burial site.
The photos were taken today and handed over to the channel by Ukrainian reporters, Current Time TV said. They show mass burial sites remaining after Russian troops left the territory that had been under Russian occupation for several months.
Some graves have crosses, some have signs. Here are some of the signs: ‘Ukrainian Armed Forces, 17 people, mortuary’, ‘345’, ‘412’. Some graves have wreaths, some do not have anything. Oleh Kotenko, the government's commissioner for disappeared persons, confirmed the authenticity of the pictures.
“There are hundreds [of graves]. But we need to determine how these people died.
I think they met a violent death and I think it was due to artillery attacks. I don’t want to call it a Bucha. People are buried in a more, let’s say, civilised way here. I’ve seen graves, and rather large ones. I don’t even want to think about it, but I think there are children killed there,” Kotenko said.
He added that at least some of the civilians had been killed in the shelling of Izium by the Russian army. The burial site was previously shot by Russian troops, and the Ukrainians knew where to find it after the Russians had left Izium, Kotenko noted.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed in his evening address that a mass burial site had been discovered in Izium. He said that the necessary investigative procedures had already begun there. The Ukrainian leader added that Ukrainian and international journalists would visit Izium on 16 September.
“We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to. Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izyum... Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable for that. The world must hold Russia to real account for this war. We will do everything for this,” he said.
Izium was seized by Russian troops in early April. Ukraine took back control of the city in early September as a result of a major counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region. The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed that the Russian troops in Izium, Balakliya and other locations in the Kharkiv region had “regrouped”.
It was reported earlier that bodies of four civilians with signs of torture had been discovered in the settlement of Zaliznychne in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. According to the investigation, they were killed by Russian troops during the occupation of the village.
In April, bodies of civilians with signs of torture were discovered in Bucha, a town in the Kyiv region. Bucha was under Russian occupation since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February until late March.