Ukraine prosecutor says four suspected Russian torture sites found in Kherson

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian police and prosecutors have identified four places in Kherson where they suspect Russian forces tortured people before abandoning the city, the prosecutor general's office said on Monday.

In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, it said the Russian forces had set up "pseudo-law enforcement agencies" in detention centres and a police building in the southern Ukrainian city.

The police, prosecutors and experts based their findings on documents signed by the Russian forces that occupied Kherson soon after invading Ukraine in February until pulling out this month, the statement said.

They also discovered objects in the buildings including parts of rubber batons, a wooden bat, handcuffs and an incandescent lamp, and bullets were found in walls, it said.

"Various methods of torture, physical and psychological violence were applied to people in cells and basements," the prosecutor's office said.

Moscow has rejected allegations of abuse against civilians and soldiers. It has also accused Ukraine of staging such abuses in places that were previously occupied by Russia such as Bucha, near Kyiv.

Reuters identified a police building in Kherson where, according to more than half a dozen residents, people were interrogated and tortured during Russia's nearly nine-month occupation. The Kremlin and Russia's defence ministry did notimmediately respond to those accusations.

Russia has also accused Ukrainian soldiers of abuses during the conflict. Moscow said last week that Ukrainian soldiers had executed more than 10 Russian prisoners of war, citing a video circulating on Russian social media. The Kremlin said on Monday it would bring to justice those responsible for the killings.

Dmytro Lubinets, Ukraine's commissioner for human rights, dismissed the Russian accusations on Sunday.

"From separate pieces of the video of the incident involving Russian soldiers in the Luhansk region it can be concluded that, using a staged capture, the Russians committed a war crime — they opened fire on soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," he wrote on Telegram.

"In this case, the Russian military personnel cannot be considered prisoners of war, but are fighting and committing perfidy," he said. "Returning fire is not a war crime. On the contrary, those who want to use the protection of international law for murder must be punished."

(Writing by Timothy Heritage; editing by Grant McCool)