Russian cemeteries now feature real headstones for regular troops KIA in Ukraine

A view from the cemetery near Pskov, Russia where paratroopers of Russia's elite 76th Guards Air Assault Division killed in action in Ukraine and Syria are laid to rest. (Image: novayagazeta.ru)

A view from the cemetery near Pskov, Russia where paratroopers of Russia's elite 76th Guards Air Assault Division killed in action in Ukraine and Syria are laid to rest. (Image: novayagazeta.ru) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia, War in the Donbas

Even though the Russian media are providing ever less coverage of Ukraine and Russia’s involvement there than only a year ago, Russians are gaining a deeper appreciation of what that Putin-initiated conflict has cost them because Russian cemeteries now feature more honest headstones for those killed in that conflict.

Novaya gazeta publishes a 2,000-word article by Irina Tumakova entitled “They Were There” about cemeteries in Pskov oblast that now have headstones that identify the dates of deaths of Russian regular army soldiers who died in Ukraine at the start of the war. Earlier, these facts were obscured.

The gravestone of a paratrooper from Russia's 76th Guards Air Assault Division killed in action in Ukraine on August 30, 2014 (Image: novoyagazeta.ru)

The gravestone of a paratrooper from Russia’s 76th Guards Air Assault Division killed in action in Ukraine on August 30, 2014 (Image: novoyagazeta.ru)

But it is a measure of the way things are now under Vladimir Putin who continues to insist that “there were no Russian regular army units in Ukraine” that many people proved unwilling to talk about their losses even though these losses and their location are confirmed by new grave stones.

In 2014, cemeteries there filled up with graves without the names or any dates, but now there are new stones with names, dates, portraits, and military unit affiliation, not only for losses in Ukraine but also for losses in Syria. The appearance of these new stones means that Russians now know both about their losses and about the lies the Kremlin continues to tell them.

Given how important cemeteries are in the lives of many Russians, this report, especially if similar developments are occurring in other parts of the Russian Federation, the Novaya gazeta article represents an important breakthrough, one that Russians, Ukrainians and people in the West should take most seriously.

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Edited by: A. N.

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