Investigators in Kharkiv Oblast began recovering bodies from unmarked graves at a mass burial site near Izyum on Friday, September 16, after the city was recaptured from Russian forces on September 10.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said 440 unmarked graves were found in a forested area in Izyum district.
On Friday, Oleg Kotenko, Ukraine’s Commissioner for the Issues of Persons Disappeared Under Special Circumstances, said the area had been cleared of mines and unexploded munitions, and officials were working to exhume the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers, which would be handed over to experts for identification.
“Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of our work here — it is not yet known how many locations will be found in the de-occupied territories, but the harsh reality indicates that the number of dead in Izyum may be many times higher than the Bucha tragedy,” Kotenko said.
This footage from Ukraine’s National Police shows police officers in protective overalls digging at the site, with several bodies on the ground fully covered in thick plastic and members of the media photographing the scene. Credit: National Police of Ukraine via Storyful