Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said authorities discovered two more burial sites in the now-reclaimed city of Izium. This follows the previous discoveries of burial sites in the area that led to the exhumations of hundreds of Ukrainians that were killed during the occupation of Russian forces.
In an interview with CBS that aired Sunday, Zelenskyy said Ukrainian authorities found two more burial sites in Izium.
Ukrainian forces reclaimed control of the area following a successful counter-attack that is still ongoing to reclaim more territories. Zelenskyy also called for sustained pressure on Russia through the sanctions imposed by the West.
“Today I received more information…They found two more mass graves, big graves with hundreds of people…We’re talking about the little town of Izium,” said Zelenskyy. “The sanctions need to continue. These sanctions will have a political impact as well as financial impact.”
This follows the discovery of Ukrainian authorities in Izium last week when 436 bodies were exhumed from the mass graves. The majority of those exhumed appeared to have died violent deaths, and in 30 of the bodies, there were signs of torture, according to the regional governor.
The bodies of 17 soldiers were also exhumed from the site.
The Ukrainian presidential adviser weighed in on the four-day annexation referendums in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. In an interview with Swiss news outlet Blick, presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said that Ukrainians who vote in favor of annexation in the referendums will face charges of treason and be sentenced to five years in prison.
“We have lists of names of people who have been involved in some way,” said Podolyak. “We are talking about hundreds of collaborators. They will be prosecuted for treason. They face prison sentences of at least five years.”
Podolyak noted that Ukrainians who were forced to vote in the referendums would not be subject to punishment. This follows reports by Ukrainian officials of ballot boxes being taken door to door and residents being forced to vote in front of Russian-backed security forces.
Russia is looking to annex around 15 percent of Ukraine, comprising of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia in the eastern and southern regions.