Families of crew aboard Russia’s sunken warship Moskva have begun questioning the official line that it was fully evacuated
Sinéad Baker – April 19, 2022
- Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea flagship, sank Thursday after a suspected Ukrainian missile strike.
- Families of some crew members are now questioning Russia’s claim it fully evacuated the ship.
- A mother of one crew member told The Guardian she was informed Monday that her son had died.
Relatives of crew members aboard the sunken Russian warship Moskva say they haven’t been able to locate their loved ones in the days since it went down.
The Moskva, a missile cruiser that was the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, sank on Thursday. Russian state media blamed an on-board explosion but Ukraine said it struck the ship with missiles, something the Pentagon later confirmed.
The Moskva is thought to have had around 500 crew on board. Russia said the ship was completely evacuated but the families of some crew members have begun questioning that claim.
Yulia Tsyvova, whose son Andrei was on board, told The Guardian she didn’t receive an update about his whereabouts until Monday, when she received a call from Russia’s defence ministry to say he was dead.
“He was only 19, he was a conscript,” Tsyvova said. “They didn’t tell me anything else, no information on when the funeral would be.”
She added: “I am sure he isn’t the only one who died.”
Dmitry Shkrebets told The Guardian about his son Yegor, a cook on the Moskva, who was said to be listed as missing in action.
“A conscript who isn’t supposed to see active fighting is among those missing in action,” Shkrebets said. “Guys, how can you be missing in action in the middle of the high seas?”
Shkrebets said other families had contacted him to say their sons were missing after the Moskva sank.
Irina Shkrebets, mother of Yegor, said she went to a hospital to look for her son and discovered about 200 burnt bodies.
She told independent Russian news outlet The Insider: “We looked at every burnt kid. I can’t tell you how hard it was, but I couldn’t find mine.”
She added: “There were only 200 people, and there were more than 500 onboard the cruiser. Where were the others?”
Russia has been accused of covering up the scale of its military deaths since it invaded Ukraine on February 24. Reports suggest Russia has transported thousands of dead soldiers to Belarus from Ukraine, and Ukrainian officials have said there are thousands of unclaimed Russian corpses in its morgues.
Some families of Moskva crew members have learned that their loved ones are alive – not by seeing them in person, but from video shared by the Russian military, The Guardian reported.
Some parents were afraid of reprisals from Russia if they were seen to be questioning what happened to their sons, the newspaper said.