The city of Izyum in Ukraine was captured by invading Russian troops in March, as was used by Russia as a key military hub between the territory they controlled in Donbas, and their assault on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, helping supply the invading forces. As Russian troops fled the city, much of the horror inflicted upon its citizens have now come to light, as Ukrainian’s recall the brutality they endured.
Middle-aged men, particularly army veterans from the liberated city were particularly to Russian troops’ assaults, as the younger people had already fled by the time to Vladimir Putin’s troops rolled in.
Oleksandr Hlushko once served in the military and was accused by Russian troops of being in touch with Ukrainian partisans.
The 53-year-old was taken into custody and tortured, having his ribs crushed, and was struck on the head and whipped on the soles of his feet, before being thrown out of a car and dumped by the side of the road, the Times reports.
The damage was so severe that he was hospitalised for six weeks. He said: “The first time they took me away, they beat me until I was a vegetable,”
He added: “If it wasn’t for the doctors, I wouldn’t be here today.” He now suffers from “brain shake”, which has left him with a slur on his words.
Oleksandr Maiboroda, 54, had a similar experience. Having been part of the territorial defence, according to his mother-in-law, Larisa Halitsona.
She said that her daughter, his wife, had fled to Kharkiv early in the invasion, and added that when she found him, he was beaten “black and blue”.
Meanwhile, a third man, insisted on being anonymous, fearing that Putin’s troops would one day come and get him again. He said that the Russian troops had thrown him in a slurry pit, leaving him standing in excrement.
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The man, whose eyes twitched while speaking, stood in the pit for 24 hours before being placed inside a police cell, where his ribs were broken.
He added that the Russian soldiers had used the dyba, which is a torture technique that was commonly used by President Assad’s troops in Syria, where the man was left suspended by the handcuffs with his hands bound behind his back.
Authorities in the liberated north-eastern city reported that hundreds of bodies had been found, with regional police head Volodymyr Tymoshko saying more than 400 Ukrainian corpses were thought to have been buried there.
Officials also discovered a put that contained the remains of 17 Ukrainian soldiers, with evidence that suggested that they were alive when captured.
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According to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, the bodies had signs of torture, and further “torture chambers had been discovered in freed towns.
Alluding to a growing number of such mass graves being uncovered in the wake of the ongoing Russian retreat, a disgusted President Zelensky said: “Russia leaves death everywhere.”
Similar grim discoveries were made earlier in the war in Bucha, near the capital Kyiv, and also near Mariupol, the key south-eastern Ukrainian port occupied by Russian troops.
Mr Tymoshko said exhumations were starting in a bid to get a clearer picture of the number of victims in the city, which was under Russian occupation for more than five months.
But in a televised address to his nation, President Zelensky said: “We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to. Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izyum.”