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war crimes Ukrainian mothers say their sons were tortured and murdered by Russian soldiers 

They lost contact with their sons they day after Russia invaded Ukraine

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Pavel Kholodenko (Left) and Viktor Balai (Right)

Pavel Kholodenko (Left) and Viktor Balai (Right)

Pavel Kholodenko (Left) and Viktor Balai (Right)

Two Ukrainian mothers have said that their sons were tortured and murdered by Russian soldiers.

Tetiana Kholodenko and Olena Balai have said that their two sons Pavel Kholodenko and Viktor Balai, both 28, were brutally killed by Russian soldiers and buried in a shallow grave.

The two men, who were close friends from when they were young children, served in Ukraine’s military together.

Their mothers told Sky News that they believe that their past military service is why they were executed.

They suddenly lost contact with their sons on February 25th, the second day of the invasion.

It was only when Russia’s forces left the village of Zdvizhivka that the horror of what happened to the two men emerged when their bodies were found on April 3rd.

"They were tortured," Tetiana Kholodenko cried.

"It was such horrific torture that no part of the body escaped - fingers, arms, legs... It is hard to say but I will say it: They killed [Pavel] with a gunshot to the mouth. From a rifle - his brain was in the hood of his coat. It is hard. Very hard,” she continued.

"His last words were: Mum, I love you but I need to go. I need to defend Ukraine. Mummy I love you'.”

Meanwhile Olena Balai said his son did not live to see his 29th birthday.

"There were not any parts of his body spared. The b******ds killed him.

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“The fascists tortured him. For what? What did he do? He's not guilty, he is just a boy. My son is dead. My little boy is gone. My baby is gone.”

She described the last time she saw her son.

"He said: 'I will be back'," she recalled.

"He is a fighter, an ex-combatant. After that, we didn't see him. He went from our home and told me: 'Mum, I will go and walk for a bit and then I will come back'.

"We found them on the Sunday, identified them and on the Tuesday we buried them," Pavel's mother explained.

"I did not know night from day during that time - my son… my son."

Now they want justice and revenge as Ukrainian investigators prepare to build a case against Russia for thousands of war crimes.

"I want revenge - for Russian soldiers to go the way my son did… But we cannot say this, right, because then we will be as bad as them," Pavel's mother said.

"We can't behave like them. But I want them punished."

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