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Recovering Bodies

May 11, 2022 – Warning: This report contains distressing images. – While Europe rushes to shore up its defences and maintain a united front against Russia, in Ukraine the long weeks of war show no sign of coming to an end. In the towns and villages around the capital Kyiv, where Russian troops committed some of the worst atrocities in this war, bodies are still being found. As Ukrainians come to identify their loved ones, the government is also collecting the remains of Russian soldiers killed in the fighting. But – unclaimed by the Russians – these bodies are now piling up in refrigerated containers in Kyiv.

May 25, 2022 – Ukrainian volunteers have been gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers in the country’s northeastern city of Kharkiv, following the retreat of Russian forces there. So far, 60 bodies were retrieved between March and April 2022, in the hopes of using them in a prisoner exchange. The remains have been transported to the capital Kyiv, where the team in charge of negotiating exchanges is based. Russia’s Defense Ministry has yet to confirm whether it would agree to the body-for-prisoner swap.

June 3, 2022 – Defeated Russian occupiers and abandoned bodies. Ukraine’s defenders counterattacked enemy in Kharkiv region.

July 29, 2022 – The Ukrainian military found abandoned bodies of Russian soldiers on the battlefield after the retreat of the Russian troops from the Kharkiv region. Their shoes were missing. Their own combat comrades had stolen the boots of the killed. The Ukrainian Armed Forces captured these positions, eliminating a lot of the enemy equipment and ammunition. Our correspondent Anastasia Zhuk visited Ukraine’s defenders in the Kharkiv direction. More details – in the following report.

August 12, 2022 – Ukrainian soldiers say they found bodies on the battlefield with uniforms bearing Grim Reaper patches near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. The patches also bore the slogans, “Death is our business — and business is good,” and, “I don’t believe in anything. I’m here for violence” – calling cards for the Vagner Group, a mercenary paramilitary organization. There have been widespread reports of Vagner forces fighting in Ukraine.

September 22, 2022 – North Kharkiv, September 17, 2022

01. Cars damaged by the fighting, seen on the road, with the Z letter (representing Russian) painted on it

02.Various of tank and armored vehicle on the road

03. Wide of part of a burned vehicle on the road

04. Servicemen walking to pick up bodies of men killed during the war, smoke from a Russian strike seen behind

05. Various of servicemen on the top of a Russian tank, (with the letter Z painted on it) where they found the body of a Russian soldier

06. Mid of serviceman carrying a bag with remains of a Russian soldier, walking next to a burned armored vehicle

07. Various of servicemen putting the body of a Ukrainian soldier into a black plastic bag

08.Various of servicemen carrying one bag with the body of a Ukrainian soldier, and a smaller bag with the remains of the Russian soldier

09. Various of servicemen checking found objects

10. Ukrainian, Vitali, no surname given, National Guard commander: “First of all we’ve done some scouting, air scouting, we were raising a drone in order to pinpoint the location of the bodies, after this, the search group moved on foot to the place where the bodies are, and after this the site was photo-documented in order to include this information into a single register of pre-trial investigations about murders. Because these are the military crimes.” ASSOCIATED PRESS Kozacha Lopan, 17 September 2022

11. Various of streets of Kozacha Lopan UPSOUND: Explosions

12. Various of smoke rising UPSOUND: Explosion

13. Panning of damaged buildings in the town

14. Wide entrance of a basement (warehouse of a supermarket) allegedly used as a prison by the Russians

15. Wide of serviceman walking inside the basement (allegedly used by Russians to hold people captive) taking photos

16. Various of clothes, bottles, and other objects on the floor of what looks like a cell in the basement of the supermarket

17. Close of pack of cigarettes, and matches

18. Mid of serviceman with a light, checking the place

19. Ukrainian, Vitali, no surname given, National Guard commander: “(Here) prisoners of war were held, civilians, also the interrogations were performed with those who used to work for local administration or police or if someone took part in military operations or atoshniks (someone who took part in the 2014 war) who took part in the operations of the united forces, so those who couldn’t leave from the territory of occupation, the occupied territory, they (Russian) were interrogating them in here.”

20. Mid of serviceman checking the place

21. Various of chairs and table on the basement

22. Close of bottle and cigarettes on the table

23. Ukrainian, Vitali, no surname given, National Guard commander: “Also they were performing interrogations via inhumane methods, they were simply torturing people because they wanted to hear the information they needed.”

24. Mid of car passing by the streets of the town

25. Empty streets of the village – Servicemen searched for bodies in the battlefield in northern Kharkiv, near the Russian border, on Saturday, one week after the area was retaken by the Ukrainian forces. While the strikes continue hitting the region, the servicemen walked through the field to recover the bodies of a Ukrainian and a Russian soldier. The group used a drone to identify the location where the bodies could be found, to pick them up later. Lying on his back in his body armor and helmet, a cap beneath it to block out the sun, the dead Ukrainian soldier has been there for a long time.

November 6, 2022 – CNN’s Nic Robertson joins the Ukraine military as they search for six missing soldiers in an area of Ukraine recently reclaimed from Russia.

November 28, 2022 – Ukrainian volunteers discovered about 20 bodies of dead Russian soldiers near the village of Dovhenke in the Kharkiv region. After a forensic medical examination, the remains of some Russian soldiers may be offered in exchange for the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers.

January 3, 2023 – Combing the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, a group of volunteers have made it their mission to search for the bodies of fallen soldiers and return them to their families.

January 4, 2023 – On the front lines of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a group of Ukrainian volunteers has been on a mission to search for the bodies of fallen soldiers and return them to families. The group Black Tulip Mission carries out the dangerous task of locating and exhuming the bodies amid explosions and total ruin.

January 10, 2023 – The bodies of dead Russian soldiers continue to be collected in the de-occupied territories. This is done by the search squad ‘Platzdarm’. For eight months of hostilities, they handed over to the evacuation group almost three hundred dead enemy fighters. The bodies of Russian soldiers are found in forests and forest lanes. More – in our story.

January 17, 2023 – Oleksiy Yukov spent years trawling the Ukrainian countryside for the remains of fallen soldiers from World War I and II. In 2014, he began searching for the bodies of soldiers killed in a new conflict between Ukraine and Kremlin-backed separatists. Since February 2022, he has been busier than ever.

April 7, 2023 – In the Kharkiv region, the bodies of the dead Russian invaders are being collected in order to exchange them for the bodies of the dead Ukrainian military. A special group is conducting search operations on the front line. The bodies of Russian soldiers are found in forests, plantations, they are taken out from under the rubble of buildings. The Russians themselves often mine the bodies of the dead, so they are carefully examined before exhumation. How Ukraine is preparing for the exchange of bodies of dead soldiers with Russia – our correspondents found out.

April 10, 2023 – Last year, as Russia was forced out of areas of Ukraine it had occupied, thousands of Russian casualties were left behind. Since then small groups of Ukrainians, both military and civilian, have been trying to find and collect the bodies in order to send them back to Russia. FRANCE 24’s correspondent Gulliver Cragg reports from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

May 16, 2023 – NBC’s Ellison Barber traveled to eastern Ukraine to see the casualties of the war through the eyes of a special unit responsible for the duty of recovering bodies left behind.