Ukraine is looking for unknown remains on the battlefields CBC News:

Warning. This story contains graphic language պատկեր images of human remains

For Gavril Vanyush, it must be a cold, lonely, terrible death.

A young Russian soldier has been killed in a sleepy, forested village on the outskirts of Ki, about 50 miles (50 km) west of the Ukrainian capital.

Katerina Karabchuk, an 81-year-old retired teacher, says she remembers the wounded Vanyush, who was wandering in his fenced yard. His dog had started barking.

The Russian force, owned by Vanyush, was then trying to cut off the M06 highway, one of the main roads leading west to Lviv, to end the blockade of Ki. His unit was exchanging blows with Ukrainian forces when he was wounded.

The Russian mission failed. Bleeding, Vanyush wandered through the winter-burned village of Zavalivka, before collapsing and dying. Many locals say he left his unit.

Vanyush was buried in the forest near Karabchuk’s house, along a path by a small lake. His temporary grave, dug by the locals, was marked by a pile of branches, surrounded by a handful of thrown vodka bottles.

“I realized this was someone’s boy, I could not sleep at night,” said Karabchak, his hands trembling as he spoke to international reporters through a translator.

He said he knew nothing about the Russian soldier except that he looked as if he had come from afar, perhaps from Siberia. His kind, happy face hardened as he described the horrors of the fighting around his village last winter.

He said he saw a Russian “tank” on one side of the nearby lake and Ukrainian troops on the other, including reserve forces for territorial defense. “They were shooting at each other,” he said.

According to him, the tank seemed to have lost its way, found itself in a dead end of its street, and then left.

Katerina Karabchuk, an 81-year-old retired teacher, remembers a wounded Russian soldier who wandered through his fenced yard last February after a fight. He said the soldier later died and was buried in the forest by his neighbors. The Ukrainian military brought back the soldier’s body. (Murray Brewster / CBC News)

Vanyush could have been injured during that exchange. Nobody in the village seemed confident. Apart from the outburst of sympathy for his mother, Karabchak and her husband had little sympathy for the young soldier, who was in his 20s.

“It was our people who buried him because the Russians just abandoned him,” he said. “A dog found his body, he died like a dog, so I guess that was his fate.”

Over the past few weeks, a temporary team of Ukrainian soldiers has been visiting fresh battlefields in the vicinity of Ki to collect the dead. Ukrainians say they have found the remains of about 200 Russian soldiers across the country.

On Wednesday, the team visited Zavalivka, receiving an alarm about a body buried in the forest. The Ukrainian troops were accompanied by a group of international media, which accompanied the document-laden exhumation. It was a very public demonstration of how the country says it is fulfilling its international obligations.

The head of Ukraine’s civil-military department, Colonel Vladimir Lyamzin, speaks to the media as troops prepare to bury the body of a Russian soldier who was killed in fighting around Ki last winter. (Murray Brewster / CBC News)

“Of course, this is not a pleasant job,” said Colonel Vladimir Lyamzin, head of Ukraine’s civil-military department. “No one likes to do that, but they understand that it is part of the job.”

Most of the time, they find that the remains of hastily dug graves are being exhumed, which they photograph extensively for: location.

Lyamzin said Vanyush was found face down, partly wrapped in blue cloth. His identity documents were collected by local residents who buried him, he added.

Troops, dressed in white suits, carefully scraped the damp, dark soil around their bodies as the light of death hung around them.

The tomb has given possible traces of its fate. The Ukrainians took a homemade tour from the ground. Baked blood was found near Vanyush’s thigh.

Using shovels, they carefully cleaned the area around the body before carefully lifting it into the white bag of the body.

The body of a Russian soldier, believed to be Gavril Vanyush, is exhumed from a temporary grave on May 11, 2022 near Ki. He was apparently killed in late February when Russia tried to seize the Ukrainian capital. (Murray Brewster / CBC News)

He was returned to Ki, an unspecified railway yard, loaded into a gray refrigerated wagon where Ukrainians kept the bodies of 136 dead Russian soldiers awaiting repatriation.

The problem, Lyamzin claims, is that Moscow has been reluctant to accept the remains collected on Ukrainian battlefields.

“Russia is not interested at all,” he said, noting that the Geneva Convention has provisions on the exchange of remains.

“We could not show them to their mothers”

Only one such exchange took place during the war. Lyamzin said the poor condition of the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers who returned home made it impossible for them to identify themselves.

“We could not show them to their mothers,” he said through an interpreter.

At the end of March, Ukraine exchanged six dead Russians for two living prisoners of war.

The Ki government has said it is ready to continue collecting the bodies and waiting for them to be exchanged. At some point it should think about re-introducing the Russians, if no one claims them.

When Vanyush’s body was loaded onto a railroad car, Ukrainian troops searched his pockets for the last time. They found his bank card և credit card, which they kept for the cameras.

It was a brief glimpse of the ordinary life’s war-torn life set against the backdrop of a growing pile of white body bags.

Lyamzin perceived the whole scene with indifferent eyes.

“I do not feel sorry for them, because they come to my country, kill children, rape our women,” he said.

“They have their brains, so they knew what they were [were doing]. They were aware [of what they were] to do – a crime. So I can not pity [for] to them. “


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