Russia: Families of Missing Moskva Sailors Seek Answers | war in Ukraine

A week after the Russian fleet’s flagship sank in the Black Sea – after a munitions explosion, according to Moscow, or rocket attacks, according to Ukraine – Russian authorities have still not issued an official report on the number of survivors, dead and wounded on a crew of about 500 Persons.

At least 10 families have reportedly died in the face of the authorities’ silence on the fate of their loved ones or the conflicting information given to them New York Timespublicly expressed their frustration in the social networks still allowed by the Kremlin or, again, in independent Russian or international media.

Few seem to have been more outspoken than the father of Yegor Chkrebets, a 19-year-old Russian who was a chef aboard the Moskva.

They said the entire crew had been evacuated. That’s a lie! A cruel and cynical lie! »

A quote from Dmiti Chkrebets, father of Yegor Chkrebets, on the VKontakte social network
Enlarge image (New window)

Screenshot of Dmitri Chkrebets’ VKontakte page with a photo of his son Yegor.

Photo: VKontakte via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

This was initially claimed last week by the Russian state agency TASS the whole crew had been rescued, then the word smuggled everything.

Speaking to VKontakte, a Russian equivalent of Facebook, Dmitry Chkrebets said he had been told his son was not among the dead and injured but on a list of missing seafarers.

How can they lie so cynically? pretend on the TV channels all live? he asked on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

If the disappearance of the Moscow River, which played a key role in coordinating Russian ships in the Black Sea, represents one of the greatest setbacks, material as well as symbolic, Moscow has suffered since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Russians are without news of a son, one husband, a father or a brother, it is obviously a personal tragedy.

Reporting to independent Russian media insider After researching her son, Irina Chkrebets confided that she and her husband went to a military hospital in Crimea, where wounded sailors were treated.

We watched each child burn to death. I can’t tell you how difficult it was. We haven’t found our son. There were only 200 people, there were more than 500 on board. Where are the others? »

A quote from Irina Shkrebets, mother of Egor Shkrebets, interviewed at insider

Conflicting information

Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov said the crew had returned to their base in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula Novaya Gazeta Europaforced an independent Russian investigative newspaper work in exile.

Last Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry also released a video showing a meeting between Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov and men presented as members of the Moskva’s crew in the port of Sevastopol.

Sailors stand side by side.

Dozens of sailors believed to have been rescued from the sinking attended a ceremony in Sevastopol last week.

Photo: via Reuters / Russian Ministry of Defense

that Novaya Gazeta Europa clarified that the portion of the session in which the commanders announced the number of officers present and absent was broadcast with no sound.

According to media estimates, however, there were about 100 men, arranged in two rows. Russian officials did not explain the absence of the other crew members.

The Shkrebets’ search for answers, like that of other families, is an uphill struggle.

In an interview with Latvia-based independent Russian-language website Meduza, Anna Syromaysova, the mother of a missing conscript, reported that she could not see any official documents on the victims: There are no lists. We look for them ourselves. They tell us nothing.

An observation that Maksim Savin also made in an interview New York Times.

You don’t want to talk to us. We are sad; They recruited our little brother and it is very likely that they will never give him back to ushe said about his brother Leonid, a conscript of almost 20 years, who opposed military service and did not support the war, he specifies.

The family were first told he was missing, then received conflicting reports as to the circumstances of his death, before one of their interlocutors reverted to the original version.

Looks like the officers are trying to silence everyonehe closes.

Her portrayal matches that of Tamara Grudinina on the BBC’s Russian-language service. Her son Sergei Grudinin, 21, was assigned to the Moskva River after basic training, she claims.

He was alternately told that he was missing, that he was alive and well, and that he would contact her at the earliest opportunity and he had sank with the boat.

Perhaps for fear of reprisals from a government that carries penalties of up to 15 years in prison for proliferationMisleading informationothers preferred to confide in the media on condition of anonymity or deleted their messages from social networks after reporting the disappearance of their loved ones.

The Kremlin declined to comment on statements that have surfaced in recent days, saying it is relying on the Defense Ministry not to confirm the information.

Russians report the deaths of loved ones

A wreath with a ribbon at a ceremony in Sevastopol.

Veterans of the Russian Black Sea Fleet held a ceremony commemorating the Russian missile cruiser Moskva last Friday.

Photo: Reuters / ALEXEY PAVLISHAK

Media, including Reuters, reported that a commemoration ceremony was held in Sevastopol last Friday. Photos from the event show wreaths adorned with a message of honor the ship and the crewwhich, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, indirectly confirms that some crew members of the Moskva were indeed killed.

Speaking on the Russian networking site Odnoklassniki, Varvara Vakhrusheva confirmed the death of her husband, Midshipman Ivan Vakhrushev, after a call from Russian Navy officials.

A sailor wife interviewed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty also confirmed her husband’s death.

Yulia Tsyvova, for her part, tearfully confided in this Guardian after receiving a call from the Defense Ministry on Monday informing him of the death of his son Andrei.

He was only 19 years old, he was a conscript. They didn’t tell me anything else, no information about the date of the funeral. I’m sure he’s not the only one who died. »

A quote from Julia Tsyvova, at Guardian

The Meduza site quotes a source close to the command of the Russian Black Sea Fleet as claiming that 37 crew members of the Moscow River have died.

The assessment is consistent with that presented in an interview that was granted on condition of anonymity Novaya Gazeta Europa by the mother of a sailor who survived.

People were killed, some were injured, others disappeared. […] [Mon fils] called me crying because of what he saw. It was scary. Apparently not all survivedshe said, referring to about 40 dead.

Several of the injured lost their limbs due to multiple explosions caused by both rockets and detonating munitionsShe added.

My son told me that the cruiser was hit from the Ukrainian side. A fire does not start without a reason […] They tried to put out the fire themselves after three Neptun missiles hit the cruisershe argued.

The woman thus confirms the thesis put forward by Ukraine, even if it claims that she fired two rockets in the direction of Moskva.

The Russian authorities are covering up the information, she believes because the Ministry of Defense does not want to admit defeat to Ukraine. He does not want to admit that such a cruiser was damaged.

Since the beginning of the offensive, according to experts, the Russian authorities have also minimized their losses.

At the end of the first week of fighting, the Ministry of Defense had 498 dead and 1,597 wounded in its ranks. A month ago he confirmed a total of 1,351 soldiers killed and 3,825 wounded, a number well below estimates by Ukraine and the West.

According to the Ukrainian armed forces, the number of Russian soldiers killed has exceeded the threshold of 20,000.

A month ago, a manager of theOrganization of the North Atlantic Treaty Estimates of the number of Russian soldiers killed in the first four weeks of the conflict ranged from 7,000 to 15,000 out of a total of 30,000 to 40,000 Russian soldiers killed or wounded.

use of conscripts

Aside from the number of deaths kept secret by Moscow, the testimonies of relatives point to another aspect of the war waged by Russia: the use of conscripts, often very young.

Quickly after throwing what he referred to as a special military operationVladimir Putin assured that he would not send conscripts or reservists to fight in Ukraine.

Earlier last month, the Russian Defense Ministry was forced to acknowledge the presence of conscripts on the front lines, adding that some had been captured. The Russian military argued that they were mistakenly sent to Ukraine and have since been repatriated.

Because Russian law prohibits the deployment of these tens of thousands of Russian men, aged 18 to 27, who are mobilized each year for a year of military service, to operations taking place outside the borders.

A fact that Dmitri Chkrebets did not miss.

A conscript who is not expected to see active combat is considered missing in action. Guys, how can you be missed on the high seas?!!!he wrote in the social network VKontakte.

I asked them directly: Why are you officers and my son, a conscript, dead? »

A quote from Dmitri Chkrebets reporting on an exchange with commanders of the Moskva

The people who allowed this should be punishedhe told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The more we write, the harder it becomes for them to remain silent about what’s going on.believes Dmitri Chkrebets.

If some of his fellow citizens are afraid to speak out, it is not his case. A man who has had his son taken from him in such a vile manner fears nothing!

With information from New York Times, The guard, BBC, The Insider, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Novaya Gazeta Europa, and Medusa

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