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 appalling treatment murdered civilians faced before their deaths in a chilling admission to the 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 minister, who previously worked as Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor, said 146 bodies were exhumed from a mass grave on September 19 alone – one of several mass graves found throughout Izyum and surrounding settlements.
It comes as Kharkiv Regional Administration police chief Sergey Bolvinov shared photos of Izyum police station, which he claimed had been turned into a torture center by Russian occupiers.
A team of forensic investigators was sent to the station to collect evidence of torture and found a number of implements, including electrical cables, which they believe were used to brutalize Ukrainian prisoners.
Ukrainian authorities exhume the bodies of people killed as a result of war following the withdrawal of Russian forces in Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 19, 2022
Emergency workers load a body into a refrigerated truck after its exhumation in the newly retaken area of Izyum, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022
Kharkiv Regional Administration Police Chief Sergey Bolvinov shared photos of Izyum Police Station, which he claimed had been turned into a torture center by Russian occupiers
Electrical cables are pictured inside an evidence bag after forensic investigators suspected they were used to torture Ukrainian prisoners
Several photos from inside the police station show notes attached 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
Forensic pathologists 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 town was recaptured from the Russians
Oleg Synehubov, governor of the 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 corpses with tied hands and traces of torture. The deceased were also found to have explosives, shrapnel and stab wounds,’ the governor wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
About 450 graves have been found in Izyum and the surrounding region, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed, as a stream of images was released showing forensic experts, dressed in white protective suits and wearing rubber gloves, working methodically to exhume and identify the bodies.
Bolvinov said the vast majority of the bodies appeared to be civilians.
Photos and footage released by the police chief on social media showed the dingy cells at the Izyum police station, which were allegedly turned into a torture chamber by Russian forces.
“Investigators are conducting a review of log files with a list of prisoners who were kept by the raiders, as well as torture instruments,” Bolvinov wrote.
‘Electrical cables have already been found… Every cell where people were kept will be thoroughly investigated – DNA samples and fingerprints will be taken and a database of evidence will be collected for the court.
‘People were kept in dark basement cells from several weeks to months, and they didn’t even always understand what exactly the occupiers wanted from them.’
This basement in the Cossak Lopan region of Kharkiv served as a torture chamber manned by Russian occupiers, according to Ukrainian officials.
This Soviet-era military phone was allegedly used as a power source for a yellow wire connected to metal clamps 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 newly recaptured area of Izyum, Ukraine, Monday, September 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 that Moscow “will stand up for the truth in this story”.
The Kremlin’s attempt to deflect responsibility for the atrocities committed by its troops in Izyum comes after Moscow repeatedly denied that Russian soldiers had slaughtered hundreds of civilians in Bucha earlier in the war.
The city on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in late March and early April after the Russian army chose to withdraw from the region and refocus its efforts on capturing 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 famous cathedral – but Russia steadfastly denied its forces were responsible despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.