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2 Jul, 2023 21:36

Families of fallen Ukrainian soldiers demand American-style cemetery

A protest has called on authorities to create a national war memorial
Families of fallen Ukrainian soldiers demand American-style cemetery

A small-scale protest, staged by families of fallen Ukrainian soldiers, including members of the notorious neo-Nazi Azov regiment, was held in the heart of Kiev on Friday. The demonstrators gathered on Independence Square (Maidan), urging Ukraine’s authorities to build a national military cemetery.

The protesters carried portraits of their fallen relatives, and displayed banners. One of them read: “Government, where’s the Ukrainian Arlington?” while another said: “Military cemetery cannot wait.” One large banner stated: “National military cemetery must emerge in Bykovnya in 2023,” referring to promises to create such a site outside Kiev, previously voiced by top Ukrainian officials.

“The construction of the national military cemetery, promised by the authorities this year, has not even started. The authorities must hear us and understand that the cemetery for the soldiers who died in this war cannot wait,” one of the event’s organizers, the head of the civic group ‘Heart Out,’ Vera Litvinenko, said during the rally, as quoted by local media. Litvinenko’s son was killed during the  conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has been raging since February 2022.

Lack of space to bury fallen soldiers has apparently been an issue for Ukraine for some time. Multiple videos circulating online show rows of fresh graves emerging at burial sites all across the country.

In some locations, authorities have to exhume old graves to make room for the newly deceased, the New York Times reported last month. For instance, a groundskeeper at one cemetery told the newspaper that the management of the site had decided to exhume unmarked graves from World War I, as it had run out of space.

Both Ukraine and Russia have been tight-lipped on their frontline casualties, each claiming that their opponent has sustained significantly more than they report. Moscow has repeatedly accused the West of pushing Kiev into waging war “to the last Ukrainian,” warning that the flow of military aid to the country will only increase the cost of war for Ukrainians.