Real-time updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

There is little respite in victory for Ukrainian forces in the recently liberated Kupiansk. Russian bullets still hit its pockmarked streets, marring the skyline with plumes of black smoke.

Intense damage is visible on almost all buildings. A huge billboard with the image of a waving Russian flag stands next to the bridge across the Oskil River in the center of the city, with the inscription: “We are a people with Russia!”

For now, the Ukrainian army has chased Russian forces over the bridge and appears to be gaining momentum by pushing across the eastern banks of the river to Luhansk, a key separatist territory controlled by Moscow. CNN witnessed the return on foot of Ukrainian infantry from the eastern side.

Yet within this city, one of many in the eastern Kharkiv region that has been liberated, are the telltale signs of a hellish occupation. A former police building was used by the Russians as a vast detention center, where up to 400 prisoners were held at one point in its cramped, dark cells, with eight or nine prisoners per room, authorities told CNN. Ukrainian. On one wall you can still see a brightly painted mural of a Russian soldier with a “Z” on his armband standing next to an elderly woman waving the flag of the former Soviet empire.

As authorities continue to investigate and clean up liberated cities in 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 rooms” used by the occupation forces have so far been found in the area. “As the occupants fled, they also dropped the torture devices,” he said.

CNN reached out to the Russian government for comment but received no response.

Kupiansk may have recently been liberated, but the city is a ghost town, dotted with destruction and debris.

The very few premises that remain huddled in its empty husk.

Read more