Mass graves found in former rebel-held Ukraine, officials say - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Mass graves found in former rebel-held Ukraine, officials say

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A local official said there are as many as four mass graves outside a rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine. (Source: CNN) A local official said there are as many as four mass graves outside a rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine. (Source: CNN)

SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE (CNN) - In Ukraine, investigators are finding mass graves in land re-taken from pro-Russian fighters by government forces.

Beneath the soil of Slovyanysk, a dark legacy of its recent past.

A mass grave site is located on the outskirts of the former rebel stronghold.

As many as 10 innocent civilians, say officials, killed by the rebels may be buried here.

At least four mass graves have been found, said Fridon Vekua, a local official.

He said civilians and some rebels were buried together. Eventually all the remains will be exhumed, he says, but criminal investigators and time are needed.

Now firmly under Ukrainian military control, the divisions that ravaged Slovyansk remain exposed.

Some of the pro-Russian rebels have fled. But officials say many more have stayed, just discarding their military fatigues and melting back into normal life.

And rooting them out is a priority for the government in Kiev.

An armed task force has been sent to screen and purge the local security force.

Inside a Slovyansk police headquarters, a chief investigator of the Slovyansk railway police is being interrogated about his role in the insurgency. He says he's innocent. But investigators from Kiev believe he could have been connected with the pro-Russian rebels so they've attached him to a lie detector to try and get to the truth.

It amounts to a loyalty test, and every police officer is being subjected to it.

He is asked if he has ever supported the idea of separatism in this region from Ukraine?

He answers no.

"Local people's attitudes to this checking is positive because they also we should screen the police. As for the police themselves, some of them are afraid of us. But if they are not connected to any criminal activity, they should not be scared," said Lt.Col. Viktoria Kovalova of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

But as the Ukrainian military recaptures territory from pro-Russian rebels, the mistrust that divides this region remains deep.

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