There is little comfort in the victory of Ukrainian forces in the recently liberated areas Kobyansk. Russian shells still pound its potholed streets, marring the horizon with plumes of black smoke.
Severe damage can be seen in almost every building. A huge plaque with the image of the Russian flag waving beside the bridge that crosses the Oskil River in the city center, and the words “We are one people with Russia!”
Currently, the file Ukrainian army Russian forces chased over the bridge and appeared to be building some momentum across the eastern banks of the river towards Luhansk, a major breakaway region controlled by Moscow. CNN saw the Ukrainian infantry return from the eastern side on foot.
However, within this city, one of several cities in the eastern region of Kharkiv that were liberated, there are telltale signs of a hellish occupation. Ukrainian authorities told CNN that the former police building was used as a vast detention center by the Russians, with up to 400 prisoners held at one time in its cramped, dark cells, with eight or nine prisoners in each room. Still on one wall is a brightly painted mural of a Russian soldier with the letter “Z” on his arm, standing next to an elderly woman waving the flag of the former Soviet Empire.
As the authorities continue to investigate and cleanse the liberated towns of the Kharkiv region, they are finding more and more evidence of detention centers and cells used for torture.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that “more than 10 torture chambers” used by the occupation forces have so far been found in the area. “As the occupiers fled, they brought down the torture devices,” he said.
CNN has contacted the Russian government for comment but has not received a response.
Kobyansk may have recently been liberated but the city has become a ghost town strewn with devastation and debris.
Very few locals still congregate in its empty shell.
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