Chilling photos surfaced Sunday showing alleged “torture chambers” used by Russian forces against Ukrainians — as the head of the European Union called for a new war-crimes probe against the Kremlin.
At least some of the disturbing snapshots were taken in a dank cinder-block basement doubling as a makeshift prison for Russian forces behind a supermarket in the newly liberated village of Kozach Lopan in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Ukrainian authorities said.
Dirty bedding can be seen strewn on the damp concrete floor amid broken pieces of Styrofoam in some of the rooms with bars across them.
There also are two black buckets in a corner that were apparently used as toilets, while cigarette butts and empty pumpkin-seed shells are tossed across the floor.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday that “more than 10 torture chambers have already been found in the liberated areas of Kharkiv region, in various cities and towns.”
He also said “a room for torture and tools for electric torture was found’’ in a train station in Kozach Lopan.
The alleged discoveries come as the head of the European Union has called for a war-crimes probe into the newly discovered mass-grave site that included the bodies of women and children in the liberated Ukrainian town of Izyum.
Ukrainian authorities said there is evidence that many of the victims had been tortured before dying.
“In the first grave, there is a civilian who has a rope over her neck. So we see the traces of torture,” said Kharkiv regional prosecutor Olexander Ilyenkov to the BBC.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, whose country currently holds the presidency of the EU, tweeted that the hundreds of corpses just found in Izyum could represent “unthinkable and abhorrent” war crimes.
“We stand for the punishment of all war criminals,” Lipavsky wrote. “In the 21st Century such attacks against the civilian population are unthinkable and abhorrent.
“We must not overlook it,” he said. “I call for the speedy establishment of a special international tribunal that will prosecute the crime of aggression.”
So far, 59 bodies have been exhumed from graves in a forest on the outskirts of the city, which was occupied by Russian troops until a recent counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces retook the town on the Eastern end of the beleaguered country.
Izyum is about 100 miles from Kozach Lopan.
Zelensky said Russia would have to answer for its atrocities “both on the battlefield and in the courtrooms.”
Ukraine has been wracked by war since Russian strongman Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of the Eastern European nation in February.
Russia’s military has suffered severe setbacks in recent weeks, with Ukrainian forces forcing Putin’s army to retreat from some occupied areas — although Russia has vowed to retake much of the lost territory.
Allegations of atrocities by occupying Russian forces have shocked the world.
In July, the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor in The Hague called for an “overarching strategy” to deal with suspected war crimes in Ukraine.