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Ukrainian investigators say they found box of gold teeth pulled from victims by Russian torturers

Photos appeared to show that gold teeth had been pulled from torture victims, with dozens of dentures piled into a clear plastic box

Dental crowns pulled out by the Russian troops from mouths of local residents and POWs© AP

Ukrainian soldiers on the front line in the Kharkiv region© AP

Joe Barnes, Gareth Jones and David

UKRAINIAN investigators have discovered a box of gold teeth, pulled from victims at a Russian torture chamber where people were buried alive.

The violence was allegedly inflicted on residents, veterans and soldiers at a makeshift facility dubbed “mini Auschwitz” by investigators in the liberated Pisky-Radkivski village in the eastern Kharkiv region.

Photos appeared to show that gold teeth had been pulled from torture victims, with dozens of dentures piled into a clear plastic box.

Investigators also discovered a gas mask, which they said was used with a smouldering rag to torment prisoners by forcing them to inhale smoke.

Other signs suggested Russians had buried their captives alive or abused them with a sex toy.

“Neighbours constantly heard screams from there,” wrote Serhii Bolvinov, head of Ukraine’s national security service investigations wing in Kharkiv, on Twitter.

The torture chamber – one of dozens discovered in formerly occupied areas of the war-torn country – was found by police earlier this week.

Ukraine police wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Monday: “After the deoccupation, our police officers document here the war crimes of the ‘liberators’ army.”

At least 10 torture sites have been discovered in the Kharkiv region, which was largely liberated by a lightning counter-offensive, with survivors telling local media in Ukraine of their ordeal inside the facilities.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin ordered his government yesterday to take control of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as the UN nuclear watchdog warned that power supply to Europe’s largest nuclear site was “extremely fragile”.

However, the boss of Ukraine’s state energy agency announced he was taking over the power plant, which has become a focus of international concern due to the possibility of a nuclear disaster after shelling in the area – for which Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other.

Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) in March, shortly after invading Ukraine, but Ukrainian staff have continued to operate it.

The plant is located in the southern Ukrainian region also called Zaporizhzhia, one of four regions that Putin formally incorporated into Russia last week, in a move condemned by Kyiv as an illegal land grab.

“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is now on the territory of the Russian Federation and, accordingly, should be operated under the supervision of our relevant agencies,” said deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin.

Putin later signed a decree that designated the ZNPP “federal property”.

Russia’s nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom said in a statement it would conduct an assessment of how to repair damage and transfer all existing Ukrainian employees to a Russian-owned organisation.

“The new operating organisation is designed to ensure safe operation of the nuclear power plant and the professional activities of the existing plant personnel,” it said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, said Putin’s “attempted legal raid” demanded an immediate response. Writing on Twitter, he called for sanctions against state-owned nuclear power supplier Rosatom.

He also demanded a halt to all construction of nuclear facilities with Rosatom and the rejection of any nuclear partnerships with Russia.

Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, said he was taking charge of the ZNPP and urged workers there not to sign any documents with its Russian occupiers.

“All further decisions regarding the operation of the station will be made directly at the central office of Energoatom [Ukraine’s nuclear power supplier],” Petro Kotin said in a video .

“We will continue to work under Ukrainian law, within the Ukrainian energy system, within Energoatom,” said Kotin.

His comments followed the brief detention by Russian forces last weekend of the ZNPP’s Ukrainian director Ihor Murashev. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later said that Murashev had been released – but would not return to his old job.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is currently in Ukraine for further consultations on “agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible”, the UN agency said.

Grossi is also due to visit Moscow this week, and Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency said he might also visit the ZNPP.

Before Russia’s invasion, the massive power plant produced about one-fifth of all of Ukraine’s electricity and nearly half the energy generated by the country’s nuclear power facilities. (©Telegraph Media Group Ltd, 2022)

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