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25 Sep, 2014 12:21

3 mass graves found near Donetsk by self-defense forces, OSCE confirms

The OSCE has confirmed that three mass graves, allegedly with many bodies, have been found near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Two of the bodies have already been identified.

“The ‘military police’ of ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ told the SMM [special monitoring mission] that three unmarked graves allegedly containing multiple bodies had been found; two of them were located in a coal mine, Komunar, near the village Nyzhnia Krynka (35 kilometers north-east of Donetsk) and one inside the village,” the OSCE said in its report.

“The OSCE are taking the responsibility to answer all the questions that have arisen. Due to the security situation at the moment, it is not easy to carry out a full investigation. However, we have a monitoring mission, which is working at present in Ukraine,” said Ilkka Kanerva, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OCSE.

The discovery of the graves was made on September 23 by self-defense forces, who were responding to information given to them by locals, who said that they had been dug by Ukrainian government forces.

Four bodies have already been uncovered from one grave and five from another as work continues. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, this could have serious consequences – as when the killings were believed to have taken place, the area was under the control of the Ukrainian government, RIA Novosti reported.

The OSCE noted that the graves were 50 meters apart and there were eight 9mm Makarov pistol cartridges around five meters from the bodies, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Next to the road, on the outskirts of the village, the monitors noticed a pile of earth with a plaque containing five names in Russian (initials in one case), according to the OSCE.

Two of the dead bodies have been identified: one of them is that of a self-defense fighter, and “all the locals knew about it,” the Interior Ministry chief in the town of Makeevka, Pavel Strikov, told RIA Novosti news agency.

“He wore a St. George ribbon and was detained after a tip-off from a local guy from the same village,” Strikov said.

Another dead man was a local resident, born in 1957, the OSCE said.

In the same village, the monitors found a destroyed bridge, which “was blown up by Ukrainian soldiers leaving the area around 18 September,” locals told the OSCE.

The European Union has received information from the OSCE that concerns the discovery of mass graves near Donetsk, the EU external action service told Itar-Tass news agency on Thursday.

When asked about the discovery, president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Ilkka Kanerva, told RT that "of course the OSCE monitoring mission in there must be also very concerned about that."

Depending on security circumstances, "the OSCE is ready to increase the number of observers in Ukraine up to 500," Kanerva said at a press conference in Moscow.

"I'm happy to tell you that even if the Ukraine crisis is very deep and it's a challenging problem in Europe today, we had very good possibilities for an open-minded way to talk about it in the [Moscow] seminar," Kanerva told reporters.