443 graves near Izyum: 99 percent of the corpses are said to show signs of torture and executions
The Ukrainian authorities found numerous graves in the liberated areas near Izyum. The UN calls the finds shocking and President Zelenskyj speaks of signs of torture.
Hundreds of graves and several "torture rooms" have been discovered in the Kharkiv region in the east of the country, which was recaptured by Ukrainian troops. Overall be close Izyum 443 graves have been found, including one with 17 soldiers, Ukrainian authorities said on Friday. According to Kharkiv Governor Oleg Synegubov, "99 percent" of the corpses show signs of torture and executions.
Synegubov wrote on Friday in the online service Telegram that several of the exhumed corpses had "hands tied behind their backs and one person was buried with a rope around his neck". Apparently these people were "tortured and executed".
Local journalists from the AFP news agency reported hundreds of graves in a forest near the city, which were marked with crosses and numbers. The Human Rights Commissioner of the Ukrainian Parliament, Dmytro Lubinets, stated on Telegram that "probably" are in the "liberated areas of the region Kharkiv more than 1000 Ukrainian citizens have been tortured and killed".
"Ten torture rooms" in the Kharkiv region
"Many people died of starvation," said Oleg Kotenko, Ukraine's government commissioner for missing people. "This part of the city was cut off, there were no supply options."
The Ukrainian police chief Igor Klymenko also reported that at least "ten torture rooms" had been discovered in the Kharkiv region. Six of them are in Izyum and two more in the small town of Balakliya.
Zelenskyj compares Izyum with Bucha
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy compared Izyum to the cities of Bucha and Mariupol, which have become symbols of the atrocities of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Friday, Zelenskyy commented on the finds in Izyum in a statement published in online networks with the words: "Russia leaves behind only death and suffering. Murderers. Torturers."
Shocked in Europe and USA
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said many of the finds were "war crimes." "I think that's the framework in which we should look at it," he told reporters in Washington. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was "deeply shocked" by the "inhuman behavior" of the Russian armed forces.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced that it would send a team to Izyum to investigate the Ukrainian allegations. Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) also called for investigations into war crimes in Ukraine. The "war crimes" should not and would not "go unpunished."
Attacks on pro-Russian representatives
Meanwhile, attacks on pro-Russian officials have been reported in several areas under Russian control. In the eastern Ukrainian separatist region of Luhansk, the local prosecutor was killed in an explosion in the building of the general prosecutor's office, according to authorities. Several pro-Russian representatives also apparently lost their lives in southern Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of trying to carry out "terrorist attacks" and damaging Russian civilian infrastructure. At a summit in Uzbekistan, he said Moscow was "rather cautious" in its response. Putin added: "If the situation continues to develop like this, the answer will be more serious."
At the front, Russian shelling continued unabated on Friday. According to the regional authorities, twelve people were injured in the Kharkiv region, and four more in the city of Kharkiv itself. In the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, according to the Presidential Office, five people were killed and six others injured in Russian attacks, especially on Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has the opportunity to make a video address at the general debate of the UN General Assembly beginning next week because he cannot travel to New York because of the Russian war of aggression. A majority of UN member states voted on Friday to make an exception for Zelenskyy.