Investigators in Kharkiv Oblast began recovering bodies from unmarked graves at a mass burial site near Izyum after the city was recaptured from Russian forces on September 10.
On Friday, September 16, Oleg Kotenko, Ukraine’s Commissioner for the Issues of Persons Disappeared Under Special Circumstances, said an 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,” he said.
Volodymyr Tymoshko, head of Ukraine’s national police agency in Kharkiv, said on Thursday that more than 400 people might be buried in mass burial sites in Kharkiv Oblast.
Video posted by Ukrainian researcher Maria Avdeeva shows the site of the exhumation in Izyum, with several bodies on the ground fully covered in thick plastic. A person wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and a tactical helmet can be seen in a ditch digging deeper, while other people in various forms of PPE are nearby talking to people in police uniforms, and later sitting on the ground with shovels and digging in holes.
“Witnesses confirmed to me that they saw people being shot on the streets by Russians,” Avdeeva wrote. “Others died from shelling and a lack of access to health care,” she said. Credit: Maria Avdeeva via Storyful
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