Burial site of 440 graves found in Ukraine city liberated from Russia

Ukraine authorities discuss mass burial site in Izyum

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Ukraine has made the horrific discovery of a mass burial site containing around 440 graves in the city of Izyum after it was liberated from Russia’s control. Serhii Bolvinov, the chief police investigator for Kharkiv region, said the hundreds of bodies would be exhumed and taken away for forensic examination. This is part of a major move from the police, prosecutors and other investigative teams to bring together evidence of suspected war crimes from Russia.

The chief police investigator for Kharkiv region added the bodies have been individually buried at the temporary site in Izyum, which is located on the Donets River in Kharkiv Oblast of eastern Ukraine.

In a further horrific revelation, Mr Bolvinov said police officers are also aware of several other burial sites since investigations began around what crimes had been committed in the Kharkiv region.

The war in Ukraine began on February 24, and the region had spent a number of months under Russian control but are now back in Ukrainian hands.

Speaking about the shocking discovery in Izyum, Mr Bolvinov told Sky News: “I can say that there is one of the biggest burials in one liberated city, which contains more than 440 graves. Some 440 bodies were buried in one place.”

“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 not identified yet. So the reasons of death will be established during the investigations.”

The chief police investigator for Kharkiv region also described the mass burial site as a “crime against humanity” and expressed confidence that “evil will definitely be punished”.

He added: “For me, it was especially shocking and horrific and this is a crime against humanity. It shouldn’t be like this in a civilised world in 2022.

“This is such a horrendous story and unpleasant from any angle. I am confident that the evil will definitely be punished.”

Earlier on Thursday, European Commission President said supporting Ukraine comes at a high cost, but that freedom is “priceless” in the latest show of continued support for the country at war with Russia.

The European Union chief insisted the bloc would be unwavering in its backing of Ukraine as divisions continue among its member states over further punish Russia for the invasion of its neighbour.

Speaking hours after she met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ms von der Leyen said the wide-ranging sanctions from the EU are starting to hit Russia hard.

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The EU chief told Reuters: “It needed a certain amount of time for them to unfold their impact, and this is visible now.”

When asked about what possible impact the escalating energy crisis in Europe could have on its support for Kyiv, Ms Von der Leyen admitted standing with Ukraine “comes at a high cost, but our freedom, the international peace order, and democracy, is priceless”.

She also described Ukraine’s recent lightning counter-offensive in the north-east and south of the country as “lifting spirits, not only in Ukraine but all over Europe”.

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