TOP STORIES Russia: Death shrouded in mystery.

Russia: Death shrouded in mystery.

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In Russia, news of death comes secretly.

War dead are rarely mentioned on state television. The Ministry of Defense does not disclose the number of dead for almost three months. Lists of victims in their hometown, published on local websites, were declared a state secret.

But the horrors of war seep through social media. Ukraine on the Telegram social network publishes images of the corpses of enemies, hoping to provoke dissent in Russia. Photos of devastated Russian positions, such as last month’s failed Seversky Donets river crossing that killed at least 400 soldiers, hint at the violence that has claimed untold numbers of young lives.

“You stand there and your tears don’t even flow anymore,” Alexander Kononov, whose brother was killed in action in Mariupol, told The New York Times in April, recalling dozens of black body bags he saw lined up on the floor. warehouse at the military morgue. “There is no more water left in your body.

Many relatives of Russian soldiers did not know for weeks and even months whether their sons, husbands and brothers were alive or dead. Soldiers’ lawyers say the Russian military bureaucracy was unprepared for the scale of the losses in Ukraine. The Department of Defense, in its latest casualty statement on March 25, found 1,351 dead. Western officials say real losses could now be more than 10 times greater.

Some families of the sailors who died aboard the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva, which had a crew of more than 500, are still trying to find out the truth two months later. Dmitry Shkrebets, the outspoken father of one conscript on board, posted an angry post on Telegram on Monday addressed to President Vladimir Putin.

Why are you pretending like nothing happened? asked Mr. Skrebets. “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 dissatisfaction with the government from a military family. But for much of Russian society, the deaths “are not so overwhelming,” Sergei Krivenko, who heads a human rights group that provides legal assistance 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 reports of death.

“They perceive death as — it’s hard to say ‘normality’, but in a sense, normality,” Mr. Krivenko said.

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