Monday, September 22, 2014

Soldiers’ Graves Bear Witness to Russia’s Role in Ukraine

The grave of Sgt. Vladislav A. Barakov, a soldier sent to fight in Ukraine, states the day he died, Aug. 24, but not where or how. Credit James Hill for The New York Times

SELIZOVO, Russia — In a far corner of a small cemetery outside this tiny village by the Oka River, a black flag proclaiming the military might of Russia’s tank forces ripples in the wind above the recently dug grave of Sgt. Vladislav A. Barakov. A photograph of the baby-faced soldier in full dress uniform sits propped against a wooden cross with a small plaque that says he died on Aug. 24. He was 21.

What the plaque does not say — and what no one wants to talk about — is how and where the young sergeant died: blown up in a tank while sent to fight in eastern Ukraine, where Russia’s leaders have denied any role other than as facilitators of peace.

Sergeant Barakov, who served in Russia’s Sixth Tank Brigade, was one of dozens — some say hundreds — of Russian soldiers killed in action this summer. Their bodies have been returned in recent weeks to loved ones who in many cases had no idea where they were sent to fight, have received little information about how they died and, in any event, are being pressured not to talk about it. Some families have even been threatened with losing any compensation if they do.

(More here.)


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