Horror as 1,000 bodies exhumed in recently liberated areas of Ukraine

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More than 1,000 bodies have been exhumed from recently liberated areas in Ukraine as part of a painstaking process to identify those killed and establish whether war crimes have been committed during Russian occupation. Kyiv authorities confirmed they have recovered the bodies of civilians and military personnel from numerous sites following Russia’s retreat from parts of Ukraine. Ukraine’s Reintergration Ministry said those recovered from graves include both children and adults.

In September, 447 civilians were found at a mass burial site in Izium in the Kharkiv Oblast, along with military personnel.

The ministry did not specify the locations of further settlements where graves have been found.

Prior to the announcement marking the grim milestone, police in the Donetsk Oblast said the remains of 111 civilians and 35 Ukraine soldiers were found in another mass burial site in Lyman.

Police said many of the graves were unmarked, with some people being buried together in trenches.

Russian soldiers left Lyman earlier this October, with both sides having differing accounts of when and why.

The extent of Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian settlements was revealed when Kremlin forces retreated from numerous areas approaching Kyiv and the centre of Ukraine earlier this year.

Bucha, some 25km west of the capital, was among the first places to be liberated, and revealed the true horrors of Russia’s invasion.

Survivors of what happened in Bucha and relatives of the dead have described indiscrimate attacks on civilians, many of whom were exhumed shortly after the site was discovered in summer.

Dmytro Kozyarevich, who lost his parents in an attack in Bucha, told CBS News: “According to what our neighbors told us, there was a tank 120 [yards] away. Perhaps someone inside the tank just had the urge to shoot at something, so they chose this building.

“My mother died from the blast wave. My father died [crushed by] pieces of the brick wall.”

Mr and Mrs Kozyarevich were married for 43 years.

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Those who buried the dead said they had to negotiate with Russian soldiers, who left the bodies on the street, and said they had little choice but to place them in mass graves.

One Ukrainian man, Serhii Matiuk, said: A temporary mass grave was inevitable.

“[The] only choice in the matter was to dig it in the shadow of god.”

Since Bucha, more sites have been discovered across central and eastern Ukraine.

On Thursday, October 27, the National Police of Ukraine said a new mass grave had been discovered east of Kharkiv.

At least 17 bodies have been found, including civilians and soldiers from the Borova department.

Residents of the area said Russian forces dug a hole “three metres deep”, threw in the bodies and levelled the ground by driving tanks over the site.

The deputy chief investigator of the Kharkov National Police Department said: “The Russians did not put any markings on the grave and did not allow the villagers to do so.”

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