Families of missing crew members of the sunken Russian missile cruiser Moskva complain about insufficient and contradictory information about their loved ones’ whereabouts. This is reported by the “Spiegel”.
The most important Russian warship sank off the Ukrainian coast in the Black Sea in mid-April. Ukraine claims to have destroyed the “Moskva” with rockets, foreign secret services confirm this. The US secret service is also said to have helped.
Russia still officially claims that there was an accident on the ship. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, ammunition is said to have exploded. The damaged ship then sank in stormy conditions. However, meteorologists see no signs that there should have been a strong wind on April 13th and 14th.
The Ministry of Defense said that 396 soldiers could be saved. 27 were considered missing and one crew member was said to have died. However, Russian media reported that more than 500 men were on board when the explosion occurred. There are said to have been many deaths.
The ministry has not commented publicly on the incident since then. And the families of the missing soldiers on the ship also receive vague information – if at all. A mother tells the “Spiegel” that her 20-year-old son did his military service on the ship. He has not given any sign of life since April 13th.
Since the incident, officials have told her sometimes that there is a major rescue operation going on, sometimes that her son is not on the missing persons list and is “on duty”.
After ten days, she was asked to meet with other relatives of missing persons in Sevastopol on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which was attended by commanders, representatives of the military prosecutor’s office, city administration and psychologists. The interviews are said to have taken place individually. The mother’s impression: the officials wanted to put pressure on them, apparently the relatives attracted too much attention.
According to the “Spiegel” report, a commander told her shortly after the conversation that her son was still missing. He could not explain why the Ministry had told the mother that her son was still “on duty”. “That can not be. This is fake news,” he reportedly said. He is said to be one of the commanders who, according to British intelligence, were dismissed in mid-May.
The crew members who survived the incident are said to have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements. Apparently, other relatives confirmed this to the “Spiegel”. The mother exchanges ideas with many fellow sufferers. Many are parents of conscripts. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin had declared that no such weapons should be used in military operations in Ukraine.
The Ministry of Defense admitted in March that conscripts would be deployed. But only to announce a little later that their mission is now over and they have returned to Russia. That was obviously not true.
According to the mother, after the conversation in Sevastopol, the military informed her that no soldiers had been found during diving and search work on the shipwreck of the “Moskva”. A court should now determine the death of the missing person – an apparently common procedure if the body is not found. However, the court can only take this step two years after the incident in question.
According to the “Spiegel” report, the mother refused to give her written consent so that the procedure could be initiated. In doing so, she would forego compensation payments of seven million rubles (more than 100,000 euros) plus several hundred euros a month that were promised to her.
She fears that once she has given her consent, she will certainly not receive any answers about her son’s whereabouts. She first wants written confirmation from the Russian military that her son has taken part in a combat operation.