Remains of thousands of people believed to be victims of Stalin’s terror discovered in Ukraine

The bones of some 5,000 to 6,000 people were discovered, a number that could rise as the excursion continues

Ella Glover
Thursday 26 August 2021 13:10
<p>Other mass graves have been discovered in the country, the most famous being the Bykivnia graves </p>

Other mass graves have been discovered in the country, the most famous being the Bykivnia graves

A mass grave has been discovered in Ukraine revealing the bones of around 5,000 to 8,000 people.

The bones are thought by historians to belong to victims of Stalin’s Great Terror from 1937 to 1939. They were likely executed by Stalin’s NKVD secret police unit, though their crimes and identities remain unknown.

Sergiy Gutsalyuk, the head of the regional branch of the National Memory Institute told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that the number of victims may increase as the excavations continue.

The remains were discovered after exploratory works started as part of plans to expand the airport’s territory.

Mass graves have been discovered in the area in previous years.

A famous mass grave discovered in the country is the National Historic Memorial site of the Bykivnia graves on the outskirts of Kyiv. The site was discovered in the 1990s and there is estimated to be between dozens and hundreds of thousands of bodies buried there.

Historians estimate that between 950,000 and 1.2 million people died as a result of the Great Terror. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands died in Ukraine.

Millions of Ukrainians were also killed during the Holodomor, or “Terror Famine,” which ran from 1932 to 1933 and is regarded as a genocide orchestrated by Stalin.

Mr Gutsalyuk said it would be impossible to identify the victims as documents of that era are classified and kept in Moscow.

“These documents will never be handed over to us under the current government in Russia,” he said.

The two former-Soviet nations are currently engaged in the Russo-Ukrainian War which started in 2014 following the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the Russian backing of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week vowed to do all he can to bring back the peninsula of Crimea and urged international allies to support the effort.

Speaking at the Crimean Platform summit, he said Ukraine “will use all possible political, legal and first and foremost diplomatic means,” to make Crimea part of Europe.

Top officials from 46 countries and blocs took part in the summit, including from the United States, the European Union and Turkey.

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