Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘genocide’ in recently liberated province


The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense accused Russia of “blatant genocide” on Wednesday after Kyiv’s forces discovered what they called a “torture chamber.”

The ministry posted a photo that showed a dark room in the recently liberated town of Balakliya. On the wall of the cell, the Lord’s Prayer can be seen carved into the wall in Cyrillic.

“[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.”

The last time Russian forces were pushed out of a wide swath of Ukrainian territory, Kyiv’s troops found a grisly scene — bodies left strewn in the streets of the suburbs north of Kyiv, or buried in shallow graves with restrained limbs and fatal head wounds.

Though no such blatant carnage has yet greeted Ukrainian liberators in the Kharkiv province, Ukrainian authorities said 40 civilians had been held captive in the town during the occupation.

A man seen placing a cross on a grave in a cemetery in the Bucha district of Ukraine.
Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“One man stayed in ‘prison’ 46 days — the Russians found a photo of his brother in a Ukrainian military uniform.” Sergey Bolvinov, head of investigations for the Kharkiv province for the Ukrainian national police 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 ‘easiest’ 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 photo of his brother in uniform.

Alleged torture chamber in Balakliya, Ukraine
An alleged Russian torture chamber in the recently liberated Ukraine town of Balakliya.
Twitter / @DefenceU

“They made me hold two wires,” he said. “There was an electric generator. The faster it went, the higher the voltage. They said, ‘If you let it go, you are finished.’ Then they started asking questions. They said I was lying, and they started spinning it even more and the voltage increased.”

It was not immediately clear if Artem, who was detained in the local police department, was the Balakliya resident referenced by Bolvinov. Artem said he regularly heard the screams of other detainees.

The regional police also said they had exhumed the bodies of two men shot last week at a Russian checkpoint in the days leading up to Balakliya’s liberation.

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

Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Law Enforcement Committee Andriy Kostin
Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Law Enforcement Committee Andriy Kostin attends a press conference at 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 return my son to me,” she said.

Ukrainian prosecutors have said six bodies have been found in the newly-liberated regions of the Kharkiv province with indications of torture. That number could rise as Ukrainian forces secure more towns liberated in their advance.

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

“Such cities as Balakliya, Izium, are standing in the same row as Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin,” he added, listing places where the Ukrainians have alleged Russian forces committed atrocities.

With Post wires

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