The deaths of Russians in Ukraine are shrouded in mystery

In Russia, the news of the death comes secretly.

Those killed in the war are rarely mentioned on state television. The Ministry of Defense did not report the death toll for nearly three months. The lists of victims in the hometown, published by local websites, have been declared a state secret.

But the horrors of war are spreading on social media. Ukraine, on the social network Telegram, published photos of enemy corpses, hoping to provoke dissent in Russia. Photos of devastated Russian positions, such as the failed crossing of the Seversky Donets River last month, where at least 400 soldiers were killedoffer hints of violence, burning countless lives of young men.

“You’re standing there and your tears aren’t even flowing anymore,” said Alexander Kononov, whose brother was killed in battles in Mariupol, he told The New York Times in April, recalling dozens of black bags of corpses. he had seen them lined up on the floor in storage at a military morgue. “There’s no water left in your body.”

Many relatives of Russian soldiers have spent weeks or even months without knowing whether their sons, husbands and brothers are dead or alive. Russia’s military bureaucracy, say military defenders, appears unprepared for the scale of the casualties in Ukraine. In its latest March 25 death toll, the defense ministry estimated 1,351 deaths. Western officials say the real tax could now be more than 10 times higher.

Some families of sailors who died aboard the Moscow., the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which had more than 500 crew members, is still struggling to learn the truth two months later. Dmitry Shkrebets, the outspoken father of a recruiter on board, issued an angry Telegram post Monday aimed at President Vladimir Putin.

“Why do you pretend nothing happened?” Mr. Skrebets asked. “We will all die, but not all will be martyrs, someone will have to answer for the blood!”

It was a rare public expression of anger and frustration with the government from a military family. But for much of Russian society, death “doesn’t make such a stunning impression,” Sergei Krivenko, who heads a rights group that provides legal aid to Russian soldiers, said in a telephone interview. In most cases, professional soldiers die, not conscripts. They come disproportionately from poor regions, according to Russian journalists who analyzed the death notices.

“They see death as – it’s hard to say ‘normalcy’, but in a sense normalcy,” he said. said Krivenko.

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