Mayor: Grave Site Is Proof of 'Century's Biggest War Crime'

Mariupol officials say there could be up to 9K civilians in mass graves
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2022 7:22 AM CDT
Satellite Photos Show Possible Mass Graves Near Mariupol
People gather near candles in memory of Ukrainians killed during the Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, western Ukraine, Thursday, April 21, 2022.   (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The mayor of Mariupol says 20,000 or more civilians could have died during Russia's long siege of the Ukrainian city—but Russia has been hiding evidence of war crimes and the true death toll may never be known. The Washington Post reports that satellite images show more than 200 new grave sites in the village of Manhush, around 12 miles west of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials say the sites are mass graves that could hold the bodies of up to 9,000 civilians. Russian troops "dug new trenches and filled them with corpses every day throughout April," Mariupol's city council said in a statement Thursday.

"The invaders are concealing evidence of their crimes. The cemetery is located near a petrol station to the left side of a circular road," Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Thursday, per the Guardian. "The Russians have dug huge trenches, 30 meters wide. They chuck people in." Maxar Technologies, which collected and analyzed the satellite photos, said expansion of the grave site began in late March and continued in April, CNN reports. Boichenko said Russian forces have also been using mobile crematoriums to dispose of the bodies of civilians killed by shelling.

Boichenko likened the site to Babyn Yar, a mass grave of 33,000 Holocaust victims near Kyiv, the Post reports. "The biggest war crime of the 21st century was committed in Mariupol," he said. "This is the new Babyn Yar. Then, Hitler killed Jews, Roma, and Slavs. Now, Putin is destroying Ukrainians." The mayor said around 100,000 residents remain in Russian-occupied Mariupol, 100,000 have escaped to other parts of Ukraine, another 40,000 have been forcibly deported to Russia, and some are being held in terrible conditions in "filtration camps" near the city. Russia said Thursday that Mariupol had been "liberated," though some Ukrainian forces are still holed up in a sprawling steel plant. (More Mariupol stories.)

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