At least ten locations that had been used as "torture chambers" by Russian forces were discovered after the liberation of parts of Kharkiv Oblast, according to Police Chief Ihor Klymenko.
Klymenko reported on Sept. 16 that two of these chambers had been found in the city of Balakliia. He didn’t specify the locations of the other eight.
The news came following another report pointing at possible Russian atrocities in previously occupied parts of Kharkiv Oblast. On Sept. 15, the Ukrainian police said that they had found a mass burial site containing around 440 graves in Izium, another recently liberated city in the oblast.
According to Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov, about 32% of the oblast’s territory was occupied by the Russian forces before Ukraine began a surprise counteroffensive in the region on Sept. 6.
During the lightning operation, Ukraine’s Armed Forces have liberated over 300 settlements in the oblast, with only 6% remaining occupied as of Sept. 14, according to Syniehubov.
As Ukraine recaptured settlements in Kharkiv Oblast, law enforcement started to uncover potential crimes committed by the Russian forces during the occupation.
In Balakliia, Russian troops allegedly used a local police station to torture civilians.
According to Deputy Police Chief of Kharkiv Oblast Serhii Bolvinov, Russians were holding at least 40 people captive at the police station simultaneously.
"According to witnesses, they were tortured in different ways," Bolvinov said, adding that the "easiest" torture was with an electric shock.
In Izium, an important railway hub located about 50 kilometers southeast of Balakliia, a collective burial site with about 440 graves was discovered on Sept. 15.
According to Oleh Kotenko, the government's commissioner for missing persons, the exhumation of bodies at the mass burial site in Izium had begun.
He said that the number of dead in Izium may be much higher than in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb where at least 458 people were found dead after the liberation from the Russian occupation in April.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that some of the bodies discovered at the site had signs of torture. He also said there were bodies of children killed by missile attacks and the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers.
“Russia leaves behind only death and suffering. Killers. Butchers. Deprived of everything humane,” Zelensky said.
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