Mass burial site of 440 graves found in Ukraine city liberated from Russian control

·2-min read
Local residents gather on a square in Izyum (AFP via Getty Images)
Local residents gather on a square in Izyum (AFP via Getty Images)

A mass burial site with hundreds of graves has been found in the newly liberated Ukrainian city of Izyum, a chief police investigator has said.

Serhii Bolvinov, a top police officer for Kharkiv region, told Sky News on Thursday the discovery of around 440 graves was “shocking and horrific”.

He said the bodies, which were individually buried at the makeshift site, were discovered after the city was liberated from Russian control.

All the bodies would be taken away for forensic examination to gather evidence of suspected Russian war crimes, he added.

It’s part of a major collaboration between police, prosecutors and investigators.

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

Mr Bolvinov said the deaths are “such a horrendous story” and he is “confident that the evil will definitely be punished”.

Police officers were also aware of a number of other burial sites since they started to investigate what crimes had been committed in the Kharkiv region that had spent months under Russian control but are now back in Ukrainian hands, Mr Bolvinov said.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky visited Izyum on Wednesday and sung the national anthem as he watched his country’s flag raised.

President Vladimir Zelensky (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)
President Vladimir Zelensky (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER)

Russian forces left the war-scarred city last week as Kyiv’s soldiers advanced and reclaimed large swaths of territory in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.

After almost six months under Russian occupation, Izyum was left largely devastated, with apartment buildings scorched by fire.