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Graves of Ukrainian Soldiers in Kherson Region Desecrated by Russian Occupation Authorities


In Kherson region, Russian occupation authorities have been exhuming the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers buried by local residents in cemeteries, leveling graves with the ground. Representatives of the Russian occupation administration in Kalanchak, Kherson region, unearthed and removed the coffins containing the remains of three Ukrainian soldiers who were killed on the first day of the full-scale invasion. They flattened at least ten graves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel in the cemetery of Bilylivka village in a neighboring community, leaving the fate of the buried bodies unknown.

This was reported to the Center of Journalistic Investigations by local residents and representatives of the Ukrainian administration of the Kalanchak community. According to them, Russian occupation forces excavated graves at the central cemetery in Kalanchak, and subsequently removed the remains of three deceased Ukrainian soldiers to an undisclosed location. The graves were then filled level with the ground.

“These are soldiers from an artillery brigade who died on February 24, 2022 — the first day of the full-scale war. We know their names because their identification tags were found near their bodies. They were all buried in our central cemetery, with permissions granted by the orcs [Editor’s note: Russian occupation forces],” said representatives of the legitimate authorities of Kalanchak community.

They also mentioned that all information about the buried soldiers in Kalanchak has been handed over to Ukrainian law enforcement, who have notified the relatives of the deceased. Simultaneously, Russian occupation authorities leveled ten graves at the cemetery in Bilylivka village. Local residents buried the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers who died near Kalanchak and Chaplynka on the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“My brother, who was involved in searching for and burying deceased Ukrainian soldiers in Kalanchak and surrounding villages during the early days of the war, said that many of them were buried without parts of their bodies. Some bodies could not even be identified, only by the cards, passports, and other items found in their clothing. I think someone informed [the Russian occupation forces] about people placing flowers on the graves of Ukrainian soldiers. This is how Russians fight even with bones, destroying everything, even graves,” commented Yulia Smirnova, a volunteer from Kalanchak.

There is speculation that Russian occupation authorities are desecrating graves in preparation for future body exchanges of deceased soldiers. Representatives of the legitimate authorities of Kalanchak community, speaking to the media, noted that Russian occupiers are destroying graves of Ukrainian soldiers who died after February 24, 2022. They have not yet interfered with earlier burials of participants in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO).

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