ANKARA, December 6. /TASS/. Russia and Turkey have agreed to quickly bury the remains of Russian Lieutenant Colonel Karl Rzhepetsky, found during construction work in northeastern Turkey in May 2017, Assistant to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Kirillin told TASS following a meeting of the Joint Russian-Turkish Intergovernmental Commission on Military Cemeteries, held in Ankara on Tuesday.
"We would like the remains of this honored person to be buried in the near future," he said. "Since he was a Christian, there is a need to abide by some procedures, so our Turkish colleagues have undertaken a commitment to find a place [in a cemetery], where there is a Christian sector, preferably in the area where his remains were found," Kirillin added.
When commenting on rumors saying that Rzepetsky’s family members turned up in Poland, he replied, "it is an unnecessary attempt to politicize this case."
"We don’t know about any relatives who have demanded that he be buried on Russian territory. Turkey also did not receive any official requests. He had no ties to Poland, he was a military officer of the Russian Imperial Army," the Russian defense official pointed out.
Kirillin was positive about the results of the Ankara meeting, saying that "Turkey’s attitude to it was very enthusiastic." "The Turkish delegation was comprised of 18 members, including officials from the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the archives and the Turkish Historical Society. As for Russia, there were 11 people, and I don’t remember when we went anywhere in such a great number," he said, adding that the huge interest expressed by both countries was the reason for that.
The Russian military officer’s remains were found while preparations were underway to construct a residential building’s foundation. His coffin was taken to the Kars city museum so that he could be identified. Initially, researchers thought the remains belonged to Russian Imperial Army General Vasily Geiman, who fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. He also was buried in Ardahan, which was part of the Russian Empire back then.
However, after studying the archival records, experts from Russia’s Military and Historical Archive concluded that the remains belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Karl Rzhepetsky from the 78th Infantry Regiment of the 20th Rifle Division. He was born in 1847 and died of hemorrhagic stroke on December 5, 1894, and was buried in Ardahan.