Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Ukraine’s president: Mass grave found near recaptured city

Unidentified graves in Izium, Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)
Unidentified graves in Izium, Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Ukrainian authorities found a mass burial site near a recaptured north-eastern city previously occupied by Russian forces, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday night.

“A mass grave of people was found in Izium in the Kharkiv region. The necessary procedures have already begun there. More information – clear, verifiable information – should be available tomorrow,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly televised address.

Associated Press journalists saw the site in a forest outside Izium on Thursday. Amid the trees were hundreds of graves with simple wooden crosses, most of them marked only with numbers. A larger grave bore a marker saying it contained the bodies of 17 Ukrainian soldiers.

Ukrainian investigators were already at work examining the site with metal detectors for any hidden explosives.

Russia Ukraine War EU
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Oleg Kotenko, an official with the Ukrainian ministry tasked with reintegrating occupied territories, said videos that Russian soldiers posted on social media indicated there were likely more than 17 bodies in the mass grave.

“We haven’t counted them yet, but I think there are more than 25 or even 30,” he said.

Izium resident Sergei Gorodko said that among the hundreds buried in individual graves were dozens of adults and children killed in a Russian air strike on an apartment building. He said he pulled some of them out of the rubble “with my own hands”.

In his address to the nation, Mr Zelensky invoked the names of other Ukrainian cities where authorities said retreating Russian troops left behind mass civilian graves and evidence of possible war crimes.

“Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izium. … Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable for it. The world must bring Russia to real responsibility for this war,” he said.

Sergei Bolvinov, a senior investigator for Ukrainian police in the eastern Kharkiv region, told British TV broadcaster Sky News that a pit containing more than 440 bodies was discovered near Izium after Kyiv’s forces swept in. He described the grave as “one of the largest burial sites in any one liberated city”.

“We know that some (of the people buried in the pit) were shot, some died from artillery fire, from so called mine-explosion traumas. Some died from air strikes. Also, we have information that a lot of bodies have not been identified yet,” Mr Bolvinov said.

Russia’s forces left Izium and other parts of the Kharkiv region last week amid a stunning Ukrainian counteroffensive.

On Wednesday, Mr Zelensky made a rare trip outside Ukraine’s capital to watch the raising of the national flag at Izium’s city hall.

Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, Yevhen Enin, said on Thursday night that other evidence found after Kyiv’s sweeping advance into the Kharkiv region included multiple “torture chambers” where both Ukrainian citizens and foreigners were detained “in completely inhuman conditions”.

“We have already come across the exhumation of individual bodies, not only with traces of a violent death, but also of torture – cut off ears, etc. This is just the beginning,” Mr Enin said in an interview with Ukraine’s Radio NV.

Russia Ukraine War
A Ukrainian serviceman sits in a tank, in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

He claimed that among those held at one of the sites were students from an unspecified Asian country who were captured at a Russian checkpoint as they tried to leave for Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Mr Enin did not specify where the students were held, although he named the small cities of Balakliya and Volchansk as two locations where the alleged torture chambers were found. His account could not be immediately verified independently.

“All these traces of war crimes are now carefully documented by us. And we know from the experience of Bucha that the worst crimes can only be exposed over time,” Mr Enin said, in a reference to a Kyiv suburb where the bodies of hundreds of civilians were discovered following the Russian army’s withdrawal from the area in March.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Zelensky said that during the five months the Russians occupied the region, they “only destroyed, only deprived, only took away. They left behind devastated villages; in some of them there is not a single undamaged house. The occupiers turned schools into garbage dumps, and churches – shattered, literally turned into toilets.”