Russians Deploying 'Mobile Crematoriums' to Cover Up Tracks, Ukraine Says

The city council in Mariupol has accused Russia of setting up places to burn the bodies of those killed by its forces in the relentless siege of the port city in southern Ukraine.

In a Telegram post, the city council said that "the killers are covering their tracks" and that the Russians had set up "mobile crematoriums."

This followed a decision by the leadership of the Russian Federation for "the destruction of any evidence of crimes of its army in Mariupol," the post added, according to a translation.

The claims of crematoriums being set up in or around the city have not been independently verified and the council has shared no evidence, such as images, on the Telegram post. Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian defense and foreign ministries as well as Russia's Defense Ministry.

Last week, Ukraine estimated that around 5,000 civilians had been killed in the strategic city in the south of the country although there are fears that the death toll could be much higher.

The Mariupol city council said the number of dead was why Russia had been delaying moves to fully evacuate the city. It added that "all potential witnesses of the occupiers' atrocities are being identified through filtration camps and destroyed."

The post also said some locals and troops from the pro-Russian Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) militia controlling the area were collecting and burning the bodies of Mariupol residents who were "murdered and killed as a result of the Russian invasion."

It said the work was coordinated by Kostiantyn Ivashchenko who it described as the "self-proclaimed mayor-collaborator".

Ivashchenko is a local council member from the pro-Russia party Opposition Platform who has been installed as the Kremlin's puppet leader in the city, The Times of London reported.

He was pronounced mayor of Mariupol on Monday at a meeting of party members. Vadym Boychenko, considered by locals to be the true mayor, is believed to be among 120,000 citizens trapped in the city which has been heavily bombarded.

In comments also reported by Ukrainian media, Boychenko said that the scale of the tragedy in Mariupol had not been seen since the Nazi concentration camps.

Accusing the Russians of turning Mariupol into a death camp, he described the city as "the new Auschwitz" and called on the world to "help punish Putin's villains."

Genocidal comparisons have also been made following the discovery of mass graves and destruction in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CBS that pictures of dead civilians following the retreat of Russian forces showed that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought "the elimination of the whole nation."

The U.S. has not accused Putin of genocide although President Joe Biden did say alleged atrocities in the Kyiv region were a "war crime."

Mariupol destroyed
A view of the Mariupol theater damaged during fighting in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022. The city has accused Russia of setting up mobile crematoria to hide the scale of Ukrainian casualties in the city that has been under seige. Alexei Alexandrov/Associated Press

04/06/22, 10:10 a.m. ET. This article was updated with additional quotes and information.

04/06/22, 12:04 p.m. ET: This article was updated to indicate that the Ukrainian claims could not be independently verified and that the country's authorities had been contacted.