Russia says claims it carried out war crimes in Izyum are a ‘lie’

Ukraine’s leaders have accused Moscow of carrying out a ‘genocide’

David Harding
Monday 19 September 2022 15:13 BST
Comments
A pile of passport recovered from inside a destroyed police station in Izyum, eastern Ukraine
A pile of passport recovered from inside a destroyed police station in Izyum, eastern Ukraine (AFP/Getty)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Russia has rejected allegations its forces had committed war crimes in the Ukrainian city of Izyum as a “lie”.

It was the Kremlin’s first public statement about the allegations.

Around 450 bodies – most of whom Ukraine says are civilians – were found in mass graves near Izyum after Russian troops were this month forced out of the Kharkiv region, much of which they had controlled since the first weeks of their military campaign in Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that investigators at the site have found evidence of torture, including bodies with hands tied, and accused Russian troops of committing war crimes.

“Children and adults. Civilians and military. Tortured, shot, killed by shelling,” Mr Zelensky said. “Even entire families are buried there: mother, father and daughter.”

But asked on Monday about his statements, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “It’s the same scenario as in Bucha. It’s a lie, and of course we will defend the truth in this story.”

Over the weekend, police and forensic experts helped exhume bodies at the site.

Last week, Mr Zelensky blamed Russia for the deaths and said that Vladimir Putin’s forces were “leaving death behind it everywhere and must be held responsible”.

He also invoked the names of other Ukrainian cities where authorities said retreating Russian troops left behind mass graves of civilians. “Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izyum,” he said.

In April, just two months after Russia invaded Ukraine, President Putin’s troops were accused of a series of war crimes in the town of Bucha.

Officials in Ukraine said after Russian troops left the area, corpses were found in the street and some were in mass graves. There was evidence many had been bound, with gunshots to the head, and others showed signs of torture.

Forensic technicians operate at the site of a mass grave in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum
Forensic technicians operate at the site of a mass grave in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum (AFP/Getty)

Mr Zelensky has accused Russia of taking part in a “genocide” against the Ukrainian people.

Moscow has also previously rejected claims that its troops had committed war crimes in Bucha.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in