Izium, a mass grave-shaped scar

The forests of Izyum hide a great tragedy written by Russia at the gates of Shakespeare Street, named after the English playwright. Russian forces occupied this city in eastern Ukraine, which had a population of 50,000 before the war, from April to September 10, leaving behind an enormous scar in the form of mass graves. It was the worst defeat for the Russians since the collapse of the Northern Front in Kiev, a defeat for which the people of Izyum paid dearly. The battle was fierce. Neighboring cities on the road leading from Kramatorsk, such as Dolina and Kamenka, have been destroyed, the bridge over the Donets River has been blown up, and it is painful to look at the buildings at the entrance to the city. The Russian forces deployed their main base next to the Old Cemetery, a gloomy cemetery camouflaged among tall pine trees, most of which were burnt down after the fighting. Next to the graves of the dead of Izyum, the enemies dug trenches for their tanks, armored vehicles and trenches and expanded this city of the dead with improvised single and group niches. After the end of the occupation, the authorities exhumed 436 bodies, 30 of which bore signs of torture. All are civilians, except for 21 soldiers, according to the authorities. Volodymyr Zelensky denounced what he called a “war crime”. Related News No Stay With the Russians At the Gates of Mekelle Aysteran In the hottest spot on the Donbass front, the few remaining civilians know the enemy could arrive at any moment and they fear executions. The Russians set up a military base surrounded by death. “I didn’t hear screams, only shots, a lot of shots. The torture chambers were in the city, and here they were executed firsthand,” recalls Sergey Chernyak, a 62-year-old retired truck driver who stood steadily in his house on Shakespeare Street throughout the occupation. A house overlooks a forest that once looked like a mushroom picker’s paradise and is now anxiously. Sergei refused to allow the Russian officers to live in his house. Sometimes he would give them potatoes, but he hardly had contact with them. When they began to retire, he took the opportunity to go to the firewood and found himself face to face with the horror. It was raining and there were only a few soldiers left, and they were busy burying the corpses. Suddenly I saw several heads sticking out of the mud. I called them animals and asked them to at least put more land on our soldiers, and treat them with dignity, but they were in a hurry to finish it,” he tells, losing his sight in the grove and barely stopping between words. He spits out a past that torments him and his pain makes you deaf. It was raining. There were only a few soldiers left, and they were busy burying the bodies. Suddenly I saw several heads sticking out of the mud. “Sergey Chernyak, this truck driver, doesn’t want to step on a forest” full of mines. It’s brown and you can step on it without realizing it. That’s why we keep going. In hearing explosions from time to time. Before we had mushrooms, now mines. The other two neighbors were walking around the graves of Gregory and Tamara Moroz in their homes during the Russian presence. «I looked at the Russians through a small hole in the wall, which at first looked like a pioneer camp, until That they had a kitchen, but then the bodies started coming in. It scared me because they were afraid they would notice us and shoot us from their tanks,” Tamara recalls from the door of 9 Shakespeare Street. They want to visit the cemetery because they have many relatives buried there, including their grandfather who fought in World War II. They walk steadily in spite of the snow on the main road. Not a single slip. Helping Tamara with her stick, Gregory flies through the pines, talking and talking, just as Sergei did before. “At the beginning of the occupation, people were afraid and when one of them died they were buried in their garden or with the neighbours, but then the mayor appointed by the Russians ordered the bodies to be brought here and they expanded the cemetery, and these outlets were dug by the Russians,” he says while plunging his shoes into the mixture. From mud and snow. He points to the side where you can see a large hole. “Our soldiers were lying there,” he whispers. Gregory and Tamara Moroz have many relatives buried in this cemetery in Izyum m. Istran landscape suddenly changes from the mud and open vents from which the bodies were exhumed to the gravestones of those who died before the war. Some are destroyed by the bombing, an unexploded missile buried in the ground is waiting for a special team to arrive to remove the artifact and Gregory takes off his hat when he reaches his grandfather’s grave. Silence. What did the Russians think? Did they think we would give up? The Kiev attack changed everything, something between us was broken forever and nothing will ever be the same again,” Sergei muses before returning to that house where his wife watches the Russians through a small hole…on the wooden wall. The peephole from which William Shakespeare could unleash his plots of revenge, life or death, reason or madness. Even the dead cannot rest in peace on Izium.

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