The mayor of a Ukrainian village was kidnapped, executed and dumped in a shallow grave alongside her husband and son — as disturbing satellite images showed a 45-foot long trench where a mass grave was dug in neighboring Bucha after killings widely decried as “genocide.”
Olga Sukhenko, the mayor of Motyzhyn, a suburban village just outside capital Kyiv, and her family were known to have been kidnapped by invading Russian troops on March 23, Ukrainian officials said.
The troops then “tortured and murdered the whole family of the village head,” said Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior ministry.
“The occupiers suspected they were collaborating with our military, giving us locations of where to target our artillery.
“These scum tortured, slaughtered and killed the whole family,” he said, naming Sukhenko, her husband Ihor Sukhenko and their son, Oleksandr.
A Reuters reporter saw the bodies in a shallow grave in a forest near a farm, which had been all but destroyed, just outside Motyzhyn.
One of those buried in the sand had his head taped.
A fourth body — of an unidentified man who appeared to have been tied up — was seen in a well near the burnt-out farm, where black burn marks climbed up its few remaining walls, the Reuters reporter said.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed the mayor’s murder, saying she had been among 11 mayors and community heads taken into Russian captivity across Ukraine.
They were among the bodies of at least 410 civilians who have been removed from Kyiv-area towns in what President Volodymyr Zelensky called a “genocide.’’
On Monday, satellite images emerged of a 45-foot-long trench dug into the grounds of a Ukrainian church where a mass grave was found about 20 miles from Motyzhyn in the Kyiv suburb Bucha, where shocking scenes emerged of bodies left in the street.
The images were shared by Maxar Technologies, which collects and publishes satellite imagery of Ukraine.
The US company said that the first signs of excavation for a mass grave at the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints were seen on March 10, soon growing to at least 45 feet.
Reuters journalists who visited Bucha also saw a mass grave at a Bucha church, with hands and feet poking through the red clay heaped on top.
The sickening scenes led Monday to other world leaders declaring it as clear genocide.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for those responsible for the slayings in Bucha to be punished, saying they should “answer these alleged cases of crimes against humanity, war crimes and, why not say it, of genocide, too.”
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described Russia as a “totalitarian-fascist state,” saying “the bloody massacres perpetrated by Russian soldiers deserve to be called by name: This is genocide.”
Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the photos of bodies scattered in the city “recall the mass killings by Soviet and Nazi regimes.”
“This is not a battlefield, it’s a crime scene. Mass killings of Ukrainian civilians by #Russia are clear war crime,” Kallas said on Twitter and called for “a 5th round of strong EU sanctions as soon as possible.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also said Monday that there is “clear evidence of war crimes” in Bucha.
“What just happened in Bucha calls for a new round of sanctions and very clear measures,” he said on France-Inter radio. “We need to act.”
Despite overwhelming evidence, Russia has stuck to its claim that it has not targeted civilians during its so-called “military operation.”
Russia’s chief investigator on Monday dismissed the Bucha reports as “deliberately false information” and “provocation.”
With Post wires