The Russian Defense Ministry has paid for monuments to be erected over the graves of the Pskov paratroopers who were killed in combat in the Donbas in summer 2014. In this way the military department is effectively admitting that Russian soldiers were involved in armed aggression against Ukraine, an article published in the Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta on June 24 observes.
The authors of the article note that in 2014, nameless graves began to appear in the cemeteries of Pskov and the surrounding areas. Soldiers in Russian Airborne Troops uniform had taken the nameplates off the memorial crosses. Four years later, granite memorial stones with portraits of the paratroopers have appeared over the graves.
“Where there used to be sandy mounds and nameless crosses, there are now monumental black granite steles engraved with names, dates, full-length portraits and insignias,” the article notes.
In 2014, the nameless graves of two Russian paratroopers were discovered at the Krestovsky cemetery in Pskov, and another three in the village of Vybuta. Alexander Osipov, Vasily Gerasimchuk, Sergey Volkov and Leonid Kichatkin were among those buried there.
“Osipov’s date of death is the same as Kuchatkin’s: August 20, 2014. He was 20 years old. In the portrait, he is also in a paratrooper’s uniform, and in the background there is a sky with a parachute… Sergey Volkov served in the GRU special forces, he died in July 2014 at 28 years of age. A similar memorial was erected over the grave of Vasily Gerasimchuk at the Krestovsky cemetery – a dashing paratrooper in sergeant’s uniform with medals. Gerasimchuk was 27 years old. He died in August 2014,” the article states.
The Pskov Military Memorial Company told reporters that the memorials had been paid for by the Defense Ministry.
The article draws attention to the fact that the funeral compensation given to the families of former soldiers does not exceed 32,000 rubles, but the engraved steles cost roughly 100,000, according to burial company staff.
“The Defense Ministry’s involvement can be confirmed indirectly: Kichatkin, who died in August 2014, was recognized by the department as one of their own. Only veterans with 20 years of service and combat participants are entitled to the benefit. Kichatkin was born in 1984. What combat he could have participated in by order of the homeland by 2014 – one can only guess,” the authors remark.
At the end of August 2014 in the vicinity of Ilovaisk in the Donetsk province, a group of Anti-Terrorist Operation forces were surrounded. According to official information, 366 Ukrainian soldiers were killed, 429 were wounded, and roughly 300 were captured.
In 2017, the Main Military Procuratorate presented the results of the investigation into the circumstances of the Ilovaisk tragedy. The investigators concluded that the only factor to have a direct cause-effect relationship to the military catastrophe of 2014 is the invasion of regular divisions of the Armed Forces of Russia into Ukrainian territory.
You can read more about the Ilovaisk tragedy in an article by Yury Butusov: “Ilovaisk. Fatal Decisions” published by the Mirror Weekly.