Ukraine: dead bodies found in the forest near Kharkiv region

Bodies of civilians killed by Russian forces in Irpin. Bodies of civilians killed by Russian forces in Irpin. Associated Press/Efrem Lukatsky

4 October 2022

At the beginning of October, three dead bodies were found in the Kharkiv region in Ukraine after the liberation from the Russian occupation.

On the 4 of October, the organization Human Rights Watch reported the brutal news concerning the war in Ukraine, that three civilian Ukrainian men have been found dead in a forest near Izium, in the Kharkiv Oblast in the Eastern part of Ukraine. The men found were Ivan Shebelnik, 52 years old, Oleksii Taran, 76, and Yurii Kavun, about 59. It seems clear that, after being illegally arrested, they were held hostages of the Russian Army in a cellar in Kapytolivka, around March 2022, early after the war started. According to medical and police reports, the first victim had several broken ribs and chest trauma, the second person died from blunt head trauma, and the third person had a head wound. 

Unfortunately, this is just one of the several examples of violence against civilians that has been perpetrated in the Ukrainian territory since the conflict started – and this is relevant not only for the reporting of civilian casualties, but also for future prosecution of the crimes. As Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch stated, “These killings in the Izium area add to a long litany of alleged war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine,” “As more information on crimes continues to emerge, preserving this evidence with an eye toward successful prosecutions is more important than ever.” Human Rights Watch has also interviewed local people to discover more about the Russian occupation. Nine residents of Kapytolivka, stated that due to the Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russian and Russian-affiliated forces occupied the settlement in late February or early March and withdrew around September 9.

Overall, in the region several locals affirmed that what happened to these men is not an isolated case, but a lot of civilians experienced torture by the Russians. It emerged that these men just disappeared and never returned to their home; they were not soldiers, which makes the event even worse.  

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by Alexia Tenneriello


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