Civilians and soldiers were being tortured on Palkova Street last month, according to Ukrainian police investigators investigating towns and villages where Russian troops hastily retreated. But what stands out about this place is how much less noticeable that fear has become.
In at least five different provinces, Russian forces left the remains of an archipelago of torture, often in buildings where families lived or where children played.
Serhiy Borbinov, the chief investigator for northeastern Kharkiv, said on Friday that his unit had recovered the bodies of 534 civilians in the eastern region of Kharkiv. .
In Lyman, 100 miles to the southeast, which was a major shipping hub for Russian troops before being retaken by Ukrainian forces last week, the local governor said 39 more “burial sites” had been discovered. The number of bodies buried there and the cause of death were unknown. My youngest was born last year.
Under Russian occupation, Ukrainians have learned that even the most mundane places can become the arena for terrorism. In Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, a man was tortured and executed in the basement of his summer camp for children. In Ijum, the soldiers used kindergartens and clinics.
Mr Volbinov said his investigators found 22 sites used for torture in the Kharkiv region.
The house of Pisky Radkivsky, a small village east of Izyum, was used as a base for about 10 Russian soldiers, including the commander, where they interrogated civilian and military prisoners, police said.
Ukrainian National Guard uniforms still lie in the long grass. Investigators found gas masks they believed were placed on detainees’ heads when they were beaten. had a box of dildos and tooth extractions. He was sent for DNA analysis to see if these items were used in the field.
The owner of the house quietly watched from the street. “Now I don’t know what to do with this place,” said Ivan, 40, who gave only his last name for fear of retaliation if the Russians returned. “This was our home.”
He had his one-year-old son in his arms, who was staring into the house. One of the victims, Andrei Dimitriev, a local school administrator, testified.
Dimitriev said he was arrested by Russian soldiers on the street and held for seven days in the damp basement of his house. There were five other men there shivering in the dark with him, but he didn’t know them.
The beating was brutal, recalled Dimitriev. Soldiers bashed his body with sticks and wooden bats. They were well drunk and the questions were off the mark. They accused him of being a member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but he said otherwise.The military badges he found in his belongings were gifts from his friends.
“It didn’t matter what you said. They kept hurting you,” he said.
When he finished speaking, the investigator handed him a pen. It is now a well-worn ritual. Another page contains signatures testifying to war crimes endured by ordinary people.
The Ukrainian judicial system is now almost entirely dedicated to their investigation. But thousands of investigators scattered across the country are struggling to keep up.
In liberated territories, every street has a story. Victims often fled. Witnesses they find often say they did their best to ignore the horrors unfolding around them for fear of being arrested themselves.
On Palkova Street, a neighbor locked the door because he heard a noise coming from his house. Her parents told their children not to question them. “You didn’t want to get on their bad side. It was easier that way,” said Tatyana, 48. But her 9-year-old daughter didn’t ignore it. At night she asked who was screaming. Tatyana didn’t know what to tell her.
Residents interviewed by The Washington Post said Russian troops had occupied their homes for two months and heard screaming, swearing and gunshots most days.
One woman said she saw two men in plain clothes being ushered inside with bags over their heads. Shortly thereafter, gunshots rang out. “It was just past noon,” she recalled. “I never saw them again.”
Serhii Korollchuk contributed to this report.
War in Ukraine: What You Need to Know
up to date: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree on Friday. Annex the 4 occupied territories of Ukraine, following a staged referendum that was widely condemned as illegal.Please follow us Click here for live updates.
response: The Biden administration on Friday New sanctions against Russia, in response to the annexation, targeted government officials and their families, Russian and Belarusian military personnel, and defense procurement networks.President Volodymyr Zelensky also said on Friday that Ukraine Apply for ‘accelerated ascent’ to NATOin the obvious answer to the annex.
In Russia: Putin announced military mobilization September 21st 300,000 reservists In a dramatic attempt to reverse the setbacks in the war with Ukraine.led to the announcement escape of Over 180,000In many cases men servedWhen New protests and other acts of defiance against the war.
Fight: ukraine mounted successful counterattack that Russia forced major withdrawal northeast of Kharkov In early September, the army fled the cities and villages it had occupied since the beginning of the war, surrender large amounts of military equipment.
Photo: A Washington Post photographer has been on the scene since the war began — Here are some of their strongest works.