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Servicemen's mothers accuse Kiev of concealing heavy casualties

August 19, 2014, 18:18 UTC+3 DNEPROPETROVSK
"Thousands of mothers from all over Ukraine are urging us to find their sons, brothers or husbands. Many have not heard from them since June and July," co-chairwoman of organization says
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© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

DNEPROPETROVSK, August 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Mothers of Ukrainian servicemen on Tuesday accused Kiev of concealing the real casualty figures in the continuing fighting the southeast of the country, saying they planned a protest action in all towns on September 1.

"They tell us three to five our troops are killed every day but it's a lie," co-chairwoman of Mothers of Ukrainian Soldiers rights organization Oksana Stetsenko said, insisting that the the scope of losses in the country's war-torn Luhansk and Donetsk regions was grossly underestimated.

She claimed that the casualty figures only included servicemen and that the losses among police, borderguards, National Guards troops and volunteers were deliberately withheld, per secret orders by Andriy Parubiy, former chief of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.

"Thousands of mothers from all over Ukraine are urging us to find their sons, brothers or husbands. Many have not heard from them since June and July," she said.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said it could not answer their inquiries until completion of the operation.

Stetsenko claimed that the losses in Sloviansk re-taken by the Ukrainian troops ran into hundreds. "Town streets were strewn with bodies of servicemen and volunteers, and when the separatists withdraw, the bodies were buried in a mass grave," she said adding that the army alleged the victims "were local residents killed by the separatists.

In intense heat, the bodies began to rapidly decompose, and there is no way of telling when the identification procedure might be launched.

The number of phone calls from servicemen's relatives has increased ten-fold this month, she went on.

"Apparently, they increase in proportion to losses," Stetsenko said. "We estimate that 40 to 60 servicemen have been killed daily in the past few weeks."

The activist said police were heavily guarding four refrigerated railcars with the bodies of Ukrainian servicemen killed in the Luhansk region. "They tell us it's a secret cargo, but they in fact store our dead sons there," she said.

On July 17, Ukrainian authorities sent six refrigerated railcars to the Donetsk region to evacuate the bodies of victims. The present location of these railcars is unknown.

The planned September 1 march aims "to stop this outrage." "Let the authorities look into the eyes of those whose sons they have not saved and whom they deny compensations," the rights activist said.

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