TA landfill site on the edge of Kherson offers few visible hints here and there in piles of trash, what locals and workers say happened in the recent past. Russian flags, uniforms and helmets stick out from the rotting mud, while hundreds of seagulls and dozens of stray dogs frolic around.
As Russia’s occupation of the region came to an end over the summer, the site, once a mundane place where residents disposed of their waste, was heavily cordoned off by invading forces, according to residents of Kherson. Presumed eyes.
Because of the muddled privacy, several residents and workers at the site told the Guardian that the occupying forces had a gruesome new purpose there: to dump the bodies of their dead brothers and then burn them.
Residents reported Russian open trucks arriving at the site carrying black bags, which were then set on fire, filling the air with huge clouds of smoke and the horrible stench of burning flesh.
They believe that the Russians were disposing of the bodies of soldiers killed in the fierce fighting of those summer days.
“Every time our troops fired at the Russians, they moved the remains to the landfill and burned them,” says Irina, a 40-year-old Kherson resident.
Ukraine’s efforts gained momentum and efforts to recapture the southern city began in late June when long-awaited US-made HUMRS long-range rockets finally reached the frontline there. Kyiv was making good use of them to damage bridges across the Dnipro, destroy Russian ammunition dumps, and attack enemy artillery and troops.
It was around this time, residents said, that they first began to fear a new use for the site.
The claims could not be independently verified, and Ukrainian officials said they could not comment on whether the allegations were being investigated. The Guardian visited the landfill on the city’s north-western border five days later Liberation of Kherson and spoke to site staff as well as several city residents, who backed up the claims made by others over the summer.
“The Russians A the lotus All gathered and unloaded full of garbage and dead bodies,” said a garbage collector in Kherson, who asked not to be named. “Do you think someone is going to bury them? They threw it and then dumped the trash on them and that was it.”
He said he did not see whether the bodies belonged to soldiers or civilians. “I did not see. I have said enough. I am not afraid, I have been fighting this war since 2014. I have been to Donbass.
“But the less you know, the better you sleep,” he added, citing a Ukrainian proverb. Fear is still alive among residents who have lived for eight months under a police state in which the Russian authorities have not tolerated the slightest hint of dissent. Price arrest, or worse: death.
A Russian checkpoint was set up at the entrance to Svitlana Viktorivna, 45, who has been hauling garbage to the landfill for years with her husband, Oleksandr, in their truck.
“We were not allowed anywhere near the area of the landfill where they were burning the bodies,” she says. “Then I tell you how it was: they came here, they released and dismounted and burned some of their soldier-guards. One day my husband and I arrived at the wrong time. We came here while they were doing their ‘business’ and they hit my husband hard in the face with a club.
“I didn’t see the remains,” she adds. “They buried what was left.”
This was stated by the Minister of Defense of Russia, Sergei Shoigu 6,000 jawans have been martyred in Ukraine, but the Pentagon speculated that in late summer About 80,000 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded.
Workers at the landfill said the Russians had chosen an area on the most isolated side of the landfill. For security reasons, visits are not possible. A truck driver who works at the landfill said he did not rule out that the Russians may have mined the area or left unexploded ordnance.
“I heard the story, but I did not go that far with my truck to collect the garbage. But I can guarantee you, whatever they were doing, it smelled awful [rotten] Meat” says the truck driver. “And the smoke … the smoke was thick.”
Residents of a large Soviet-era apartment block facing the landfill said that when the Russians started burning, a huge cloud of smoke filled the air with an unbearable smell of decay, making it impossible to breathe.
Olesya Kokorina, 60, who lives on the eighth floor, said, “When I smelled the smoke, I felt nauseous. “And it was horrible, too, because it smelled like burnt hair, and you know, when the dentist drills the tooth before they put the filling in. And the smoke was so thick, you couldn’t see the building next door.”
“I’ve never smelled anything like this before,” says 65-year-old Natalia. “There were a lot of dump trucks and they were all covered with bags. I don’t know what was in it, but the stench of smoke from the landfill was so bad that we couldn’t even open the balcony door. There were days when you couldn’t breathe because of the smell.”
Some believe that burning the bodies of their own soldiers was the easiest way to get rid of the corpses because the bridges over the Dnipro River were too fragile for trucks to hold when the Russians were literally cut off on the west bank.
Dozens of other Kherson residents confirmed their neighbors’ reports, but Ukrainian officials have not yet spoken. A local official, who requested anonymity, said: “We are not interested in enemy burial sites. We are interested in finding bodies of Ukrainians, tortured, killed and buried in Kherson region.”
Security services of Ukraine believe that the bodies of thousands of dead Russian soldiers are being informally disposed of, just like the Kremlin. Logging them as “absent in action”. In an attempt to cover the damage caused by the war in Ukraine.
A phone call from a Russian soldier in May said his comrades had been buried in a “man-high pile of rubble”. Just outside of Donetsk. “There is a lot of freight 200 [military code for dead soldiers] That the mountains of corpses are 2 meters high,” he said in the call. “It’s not a morgue, it’s a dump. That’s huge.”
“They just throw them in there,” a Russian soldier said in another call. “And then it’s easy to make it disappear without being discovered. It’s easy for them to pretend they’re lost and that’s it.”