Rubizhne, an eastern Ukrainian town, has begun exhuming bodies found in courtyards during the height of fighting. They want to be able to lay them to rest with dignity.
Rubizhne is located in the Luhansk region in Ukraine. This is where Russian forces took full control in July. It happened more than four years after President Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operations” in Ukraine.
On Friday (12 August), men with spades removed the sandy soil from an apartment block that was badly damaged in the town of 50,000.
Lilia Ai-Talatini (48) watched as workers pulled out a blanket to cover her mother. She had been taken in quick succession after the March attacks which split the town in half.
Ai-Talatini stated that the fighting had stopped her from reaching her parents’ apartment for 10 days.
She said: “Mother was already in her final days… her hands were already blue, her complexion was pale, and there were circles under her eyes. The next day, mother died.”
Her husband was not a skilled man and she and her husband did not have spades so they had to drag the corpse into an open trench in the ground.
“It’s easier because she’s not out… buried under inhuman conditions. She said that she was going to the cemetery and has a plot there.”
The search for bodies is being coordinated by the Luhansk People’s Republic, a Russian-backed separatist organization. Anna Sorokina from the LPR said that a team of investigators had been in Rubizhne for ten days and exhumed at least 104 sets.
She stated: “It’s obvious that shrapnel injuries predominate, but there are also bullet wounds,” and estimated there were 500 unofficial graves within the city.
Six bodies were found near the apartment block that was badly damaged and they were placed in a van. Specialists from other parts of town examined them.
Boris Kovalyov (44), a Rostov-based forensic expert, stated that genetic material from Rostov would be kept in order to identify unknown corpses.
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