Ukrainian investigators say they have found at least 63 bodies in Kherson that show signs of torture following the Russian withdrawal from the region.
The dozens of alleged victims echo the recapture of Bucha and the areas around Kyiv, where Russia is accused of killing hundreds of civilians and burying them in mass graves. Ukrainian interior minister Denys Monastyrsky says investigators found 436 instances of war crimes in the region, including four facilities where torture took place.
“Now, 63 bodies have been discovered in the Kherson region, but we must understand that the search has only just started so many more dungeons and burial places will be uncovered,” Monastyrsky told Ukrainian television, according to Reuters.
“Investigators are currently examining them and setting down every instance of torture. Exhumations are also taking place of the bodies of those who were killed,” he added.
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Ukrainian troops liberated Kherson last week following a Russian withdrawal. The development saw many instances of joyous reunion between Ukrainian soldiers and their families trapped in the previously occupied region.
Nevertheless, there were signs that the Russian occupation was violent.
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“Investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes, the bodies of both civilians and military personnel are being found,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week. “In the Kherson region, the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country, where it was able to enter.”
Ukraine’s recapture of Kherson comes just weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin held an elaborate ceremony annexing it and other regions in Ukraine. Russia’s forces have suffered numerous setbacks on the ground since September, when Ukraine launched a successful counter-offensive.
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Putin’s tactics have shifted with the new reality, however, and the Russian military has begun targeting Ukrainian power and water infrastructure with missiles. The barrage threatens to leave Ukrainians without reliable heat and water during the country’s bitter winter months.