The Ukraine town of Izyum was captured in March by invading Russian forces, which Russia used as a key military hub between its controlled area of Donbass and its attack on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, to resupply the invading forces . As Russian troops fled the city, much of the horror inflicted on its citizens has now come to light as Ukrainians recall the brutality they endured.
Middle-aged men, especially army veterans from the liberated city, were particularly hard hit by Russian troops’ attacks, as the younger crowd had already fled by the time Vladimir Putin’s troops rolled in.
Oleksandr Hlushko once served in the military and was accused by Russian troops of being in contact with Ukrainian partisans.
The 53-year-old was taken into custody and tortured, including having his ribs broken, hit on the head and flogged on the soles of his feet, before being thrown from a car and dumped on the side of the road, the Times reported.
The damage was so severe that he was hospitalized 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 shakes,” which has left him speechless.
Oleksandr Maiboroda, 54, had a similar experience. According to his mother-in-law, Larisa Halitsona, he was part of the territorial defense.
She said that her daughter, his wife, fled to Kharkiv at the start of the invasion, adding that when she found him he was beaten “black and blue”.
Meanwhile, a third man insisted on remaining anonymous, fearing that one day Putin’s forces would come and get him again. He said Russian troops threw him in a manure pit and left him standing in excrement.
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The man, whose eyes twitched when he spoke, stood in the pit for 24 hours before being taken to a police cell where his ribs were broken.
He added that the Russian soldiers used the dyba, a torture technique commonly used by President Assad’s troops in Syria, where the man was hung up by the handcuffs and his hands were tied behind his back.
Authorities in the liberated northeastern city reported hundreds of bodies had been found, with regional police chief Volodymyr Tymoshko saying more than 400 Ukrainian bodies were said to have been buried there.
Officials also discovered a put containing the remains of 17 Ukrainian soldiers with evidence suggesting they were alive when captured.
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According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the corpses showed signs of torture, and other “torture chambers have been discovered in liberated cities.
Alluding to a growing number of such mass graves being unearthed as the Russian retreat continues, a disgusted President Zelenskyy said: “Russia leaves death everywhere.”
Similar grim discoveries were made earlier in the war in Bucha, near the capital Kyiv, and also near Mariupol, southeast Ukraine’s main port occupied by Russian troops.
Mr Tymoshko said exhumations would begin to get a clearer picture of the toll in the city, which has been under Russian occupation for more than five months.
But in a televised address to his country, President Zelenskyy said: “We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to. Bucha, Mariupol, now unfortunately Izyum.”