Ukraine accuses Russia of “genocide” in a recently liberated province

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday accused Russia of “open genocide” after Kiev’s forces discovered what they called a “torture chamber”.

The Ministry posted a photo which showed a dark room in the recently liberated city of Balakliya. The Lord’s Prayer is engraved in Cyrillic on the wall of the cell.

“[A] Russian torture chamber in liberated Balakliya,” the ministry wrote. “The Lord’s Prayer was carved on the wall by Ukrainian prisoners. Russia must be held accountable for this blatant genocide.”

When Russian forces were last driven out of much of Ukrainian territory, Kiev’s troops found a horrific scene – bodies strewn on suburban streets north of Kyiv or buried in shallow graves with limbs bound and fatal head wounds.

Although Ukrainian liberators in Kharkiv province have yet to witness such blatant slaughter, Ukrainian authorities said that 40 civilians were held captive in the city during the occupation.

Bucha Cemetery in Ukraine
A man was seen laying a cross on a grave at a cemetery in Ukraine’s Bucha district.
Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“A man remained in ‘prison’ for 46 days – the Russians found a photo of his brother in a Ukrainian military uniform,” Sergey Bolvinov, chief investigator of Ukraine’s National Police for Kharkiv province, said on Facebook. “According to witnesses, they were tortured in different ways.”

“I will not describe all the tortures, I will only say that the ‘simplest’ was when they were electrocuted,” he added.

A Balakliya resident named Artem told the BBC on Tuesday that he was among those electrocuted after Russian troops found a photograph of his brother in uniform.

Alleged torture chamber in Balakliya, Ukraine
A suspected Russian torture chamber in the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Balakliya.
Twitter / @DefenseU

“They made me hold two wires,” he said. “There was a power generator. The faster it went, the higher the tension. They said, ‘If you let it go, you’re done.’ Then they started asking questions. They said I was lying and they started twisting it some more and the tension mounted.”

It was not immediately clear if Artem, who was arrested at the local police station, was the Balakliya resident Bolvinov was referring to. Artem said he regularly heard screams from other detainees.

Regional police also said they exhumed the bodies of two men who were shot dead at a Russian checkpoint last week in the days leading up to Balakliya’s liberation.

The men were reportedly wearing civilian clothes when they were killed and buried by their neighbors after the incident.

Chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee of the Verkhovna Rada Andriy Kostin
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Law Enforcement Committee Andriy Kostin attends a press conference at the Forum in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Evgen Kotenko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

A woman standing at the grave told a Reuters reporter she was the mother of one of the men, a 49-year-old named Petro.

“No one can give me my son back,” she said.

According to Ukrainian prosecutors, six bodies with evidence of torture were found in the newly liberated regions of Kharkiv province. That number could increase as Ukrainian forces secure more towns liberated in their advance.

“We have a terrible picture of what the occupiers did,” Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said on Wednesday.

“Cities like Balakliya, Izium are in the same row as Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin,” he added, listing places where Ukrainians committed alleged atrocities by Russian forces.

With postal wires Ukraine accuses Russia of “genocide” in a recently liberated province


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