451 murder victims... and the hunt to find their killers: How Ukraine's security service is hunting Russian troops who carried out one of the war's earliest atrocities uncovered with the discovery of a shocking mass grave

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It was clear to Vitaly that he needed to commencement digging graves soon aft learning that nan Russian subject was making its measurement into his state past February. 

Though he expected bloodshed and strife, thing could hole him for nan earthy brutality of Putin's forces, and their willingness to put their humanity speech for nan liking of much Ukrainian territory. 

The aged man, who did not return connected nan domiciled of municipality gravedigger lightly, said: 'When location was nary shelling, we dug and buried. When location was shelling, we sewage out.

'Cluster shells, rocket launchers, everything, they were conscionable firing, knowing that location was no-one from nan subject successful these buildings, they conscionable deed nan civilian population. Just a wide execution of people.'

Within conscionable a fewer days of Russia's forbidden invasion of Ukraine, Vitaly's city, Izium, was overrun by Russian forces, who indiscriminately deed civilian targets. 

Vitaly buried 451 bodies, almost each of them Ukrainian civilians, successful a mini wood extracurricular nan city. Many were recovered pinch signs of torture, and respective were recovered pinch slug wounds. 

Russian troops indiscriminately fired upon civilian targets erstwhile they took Izium

Vitaly helped hide 451 people, mostly Ukrainian citizens, successful a wood adjacent Izium

The bodies were exhumed past autumn aft Ukraine regained nan territory 

But nan velocity astatine which nan bodies piled up, and nan sadistic ways they were killed, meant that galore of them are yet to beryllium identified. 

'There were a batch of chartless people, location were a batch of chartless remains,' he said. 

After Russian forces were pushed of nan region past autumn, investigators exhumed '50 to 60' bodies a day, and Ukraine's information work are now hunting down nan Russian troops who committed nan sickening war crimes successful Izium. 

One investigating serviceman said: 'What nan Russian subject has done, it is against humanity, against Ukraine, against Ukrainians, and could beryllium called genocide.'

The information work are looking to shed ray connected what happened to nan civilians of nan region. 

Two work officials person been searching for relatives and imaginable DNA matches pinch those who were buried successful nan Izium forest, successful an effort to bring closure to nan thousands successful nan metropolis who mislaid loved ones, including Halyana Zhykhareva. 

451 bodies were buried successful a wood adjacent Izium, north-east Ukraine, aft Russian forces occupied nan region

Many bodies were unidentified, leaving galore successful Izium not knowing what happened to their loved ones

The grandmother mislaid respective members of her family, including 2 young girls ages six and nine, erstwhile a 500kg explosive levelled nan flat artifact they lived in.

'52 group died. My full family was there.'she softly said. 

Their bodies laic successful nan rubble for months earlier they could beryllium recovered and fixed makeshift burials, and it’s only now that she has been capable to hide them pinch dignity. 

The hunt for nan perpetrators of nan long, drawn-out massacre astatine Izium is being documented successful a caller film, The Grave. 

Allie Wharf, who produced and directed The Grave, said: 'This warfare is dissimilar galore others that I’ve covered. 

'In galore cities distant from nan beforehand statement nan Ukrainians are trying to unrecorded ’normal’ lives, to rebuild arsenic things are destroyed but nan panic and sadness and condolences and anger and despair are conscionable beneath nan surface. 

'Witnessing nan bravery and professionalism of my young colleagues successful Ukraine has been an outstanding acquisition successful my filmmaking profession and to perceive from them, that nan enactment of filmmaking, working, reporting their country’s suffering has saved them from despair is simply a testament to nan powerfulness of that undertaking.'

The documentary, which will beryllium shown connected ITV1 connected November 6 astatine 10:45 pm, comes arsenic nan 20-month people of Russia's penetration of Ukraine ticks by and hundreds of alleged warfare crimes person been documented. 

The bodies of Izium's residents laic successful nan rubble for months earlier they could beryllium recovered

Halyana Zhykhareva (pictured) mislaid respective members of her family, including her great-granddaughters, ages six and nine

Earlier this week, nan BBC reported that 9 people, including 2 young children, were changeable dormant successful their location successful nan Russian-occupied municipality of Volnovakha. 

Ukrainian officials judge Russian soldiers killed nan full Kapkanets family connected Friday for not handing complete their home. 

Ukrainian ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said connected Monday that 'Russians' bloodied hands were involved' successful nan Volnovakha killings.

'According to preliminary information, nan occupiers person killed nan full of nan Kapkanets family, who were celebrating a day and who had refused to manus their ain location complete to occupiers from Chechnya,' he said connected Telegram.

Both Russia and Ukraine are investigating nan horrific incident. 

The conflict, nan bloodiest connected European ungraded successful decades, has seen hundreds of thousands of soldiers injured and killed connected some sides. 

The Wall Street Journal reported successful August that up to 50,000 amputations needed to beryllium performed connected Ukrainian civilians and soldiers. 

By contrast, 41,000 British soldiers needed to beryllium amputated during nan full of World War I. 

Doctors successful Ukraine blamed Russia's dense usage of landmine that it laid connected its frontlines, arsenic good arsenic nan dense usage of artillery and missiles.


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