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At least thirty-seven dead Parents of Russian sailors aboard the Moskva leak information about their sons killed in Ukraine’s missile strike

Source: Meduza
Russian Defense Ministry / AP / Scanpix / LETA

According to a source close to the command of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, 37 crew members died aboard the Moskva — the warship that sank in the Black Sea last week, after it was hit by multiple Ukrainian cruise missiles. Meduza reviews what we know about the deaths and disappearances of the warship’s sailors (several of whom were draftees).

The source told Meduza that the bodies of those killed were sent to Sevastopol in Crimea on April 15. Over the weekend, the mother of a sailor who survived told Novaya Gazeta’s new European edition that “roughly 40” were killed in the attack on the Moskva.

Meduza’s source says another 100 sailors were injured, and multiple people aboard the ship are still missing, though it’s still unclear how many sailors are still unaccounted for. In total, there were about 500 people aboard the ship, the source told Meduza.

Officially, Russia’s Defense Ministry has acknowledged no deaths among the crew of the Moskva. The military reported that the warship was evacuated “in full.” At a farewell ceremony for the sunken ship, however, journalists noticed that a memorial ribbon displayed during the event was inscribed, “To the ship and its sailors.” The next day, Russia’s Defense Ministry published footage of a meeting between the Moskva’s crew and Navy commander-in-chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov. Reporters at The Insider determined that roughly 100 sailors appear in the video.

The Russian military also denies that the ship sank due to a Ukrainian missile attack. According to the Defense Ministry, the Moskva suffered “an ammunition detonation” that triggered a fire. The warship then purportedly sank while being towed to port due to a storm. But Ukrainian officials maintain that they targeted the Moskva with multiple R-360 Neptune anti-ship missiles. Meduza’s source with ties to the Black Sea Fleet’s command confirmed that the Moskva was hit in a Ukrainian attack.

More about the Moskva

Towed to port Russian warship Moskva ‘seriously damaged’ after Ukraine claims missile strike

More about the Moskva

Towed to port Russian warship Moskva ‘seriously damaged’ after Ukraine claims missile strike

“They don’t tell us anything”

At the time of this writing, independent media outlets have published detailed biographical information about at least two of the Moskva crew members killed in the attack and another four people who were aboard the ship and remain missing.

Journalists have identified petty officer Ivan Vakhrushev (his wife verified his death to reporters at Radio Liberty) and seaman first class Vitaly Begersky (his cousin Anastasia confirmed this to the investigative outlet Agentstvo).

A woman in Crimea named Yulia Tsyvova told BBC Russia that her 19-year-old son Andrey served in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet as a conscripted sailor. He’s listed among those aboard the Moskva who are still missing.

On the social network Vkontakte, journalists at Agentstvo also found a post from an account registered to a woman named Ulyana Tarasova who claims that her son Mark “went missing aboard the Moskva cruiser.” One of Tarasova’s friends told Agenstsvo that Mark was also a draftee.

In Russia’s Sverdlovsk region, a mother named Anna Syromyasova wrote on social media that her son (another conscripted sailor) also disappeared aboard the Moskva. Syromyasova told Meduza that her son is currently considered missing, though she said she wasn’t shown the list itself and doesn’t know how many others are still unaccounted for. “There are no lists. We’re looking for them ourselves. They don’t tell us anything,” she explained.

The first conscripted sailor’s parent to report the disappearance of a son aboard the Moskva was Dmitry Shkrebets, who lives in Yalta. On April 17, he posted an angry message on Vkontakte, accusing the military of lying to the public:

I have been informed by the direct commanders of the Moskva cruiser that my son, a draftee, is not among the dead and wounded but is listed as missing. A draftee who was not supposed to be taking part in hostility is listed as missing. Folks, did he go missing on the high seas?!!!

Journalists at Radio Liberty managed to corroborate Shkrebets’s story, at least indirectly: they found a report in the Baltic Fleet’s newspaper published on December 24 that identified Egor Shkrebets as a ship’s cook aboard the Moskva.

Dmitry Shkrebets also says another three families (in Yalta, Alupka, and St. Petersburg) have contacted him to say that their sons are missing, too: “Their kids — more draftees — are also missing,” he wrote online.

Story by Svetlana Reiter and Alexey Slavin

Translation by Kevin Rothrock

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