Ukrainian officials say that at least 180 bodies, but numbers that could exceed 200, including “whole families” with young children, have been discovered in a mass grave in Lyman less than one week after troops reclaimed the formerly Russian-occupied city.
Yevhen Zhukov, head of the patrol department of Ukraine’s National Police, announced the discovery on Friday in a message posted to a Telegram account that he operates under the call sign “Marshal,” according to the state-owned media outlet Ukrinform.
Zhukov said in the message that a mass grave “in which 180 were buried” had been discovered in “freed Lyman,” adding that “whole families lie in mass graves,” including the “burials of children born in 2019-2021.”
On Sunday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that the first 20 bodies have been exhumed.
“@NPU_GOV_UA (Ukraine’s National Police) has exhumed the first 20 bodies in Lyman, in the Donetsk region. Civilians, including children, and fallen soldiers are buried here. These graves were dug during the russian occupation of Lyman. The number of victims is likely to exceed 200+,” tweeted the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Ukrainian troops recaptured Lyman, a city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, only two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the region was one of four that were annexed for Russia last week.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk, said in a Facebook post on Friday that “about two hundred” people had been discovered in a mass gravesite containing the remains of civilians in Lyman.
“I ask everyone to refrain from commenting on the number of people buried and the causes of their death until the experts reach the final conclusion,” Kyrylenko said.
“These are civilians who died during the occupation of the city,” Kyrylenko said. “The dead were buried in the streets and yards … May they rest in peace—the Russians will be punished for every destroyed, mutilated and taken human life.”