A small-scale protest took place in the heart of Kiev on Friday, organized by families of fallen Ukrainian soldiers, including members of the neo-Nazi Azov regiment. The protesters, gathered in Independence Square, were urging Ukrainian authorities to establish a national military cemetery.
During the protest, participants held portraits of their fallen relatives and displayed banners with various messages. One banner read, “Government, where’s the Ukrainian Arlington?” while another stated, “Military cemetery cannot wait.” A large banner prominently read, “National military cemetery must emerge in Bykovnya in 2023,” referring to promises made by Ukrainian officials to create such a site in the suburb of Kiev.
Vera Litvinenko, the head of civic group ‘Heart Out’ and one of the event’s organizers, emphasized the urgency of the situation during the rally. She stated that the construction of the national military cemetery, promised by the authorities for this year, has not even started. Litvinenko, who lost her son in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, urged the authorities to understand that the cemetery for the soldiers who died in this war cannot wait.
The lack of space to bury fallen soldiers has been a longstanding issue in Ukraine. Multiple videos circulating online have shown rows of fresh graves appearing at burial sites throughout the country. In some locations, authorities have had to exhume old graves to make room for the newly deceased. Last month, the New York Times reported that one cemetery had decided to exhume unmarked graves from World War I due to the lack of space.
Both Ukraine and Russia have been tight-lipped about their frontline casualties, with each side claiming that the other has suffered significantly more than reported. Moscow has repeatedly accused the West of pushing Kiev into a war that is taking a toll on Ukrainian lives. It has warned that the continuous flow of military aid to Ukraine will only increase the cost of war for Ukrainians.
Creating a national military cemetery is crucial to honor the sacrifice of the fallen soldiers and provide a final resting place for them. It would also help address the pressing issue of limited space for burials. The families of the fallen soldiers, along with concerned citizens, are pushing for action from the Ukrainian authorities to fulfill their promises and establish the cemetery in Bykovnya by 2023.
The protest in Kiev serves as a reminder of the ongoing conflict and the devastating impact it has had on countless families. It highlights the need for immediate attention and action from the government to address the pressing issue of inadequate burial space. Failure to do so would further contribute to the suffering and frustration of the families of fallen soldiers, who deserve a proper and dignified resting place for their loved ones.
As the situation unfolds, it is crucial for the authorities to listen to the voices of the grieving families and take immediate steps to address their concerns. Providing a national military cemetery would not only honor the fallen soldiers but also provide solace and closure to their families. It is a matter of utmost importance to ensure that the sacrifices made by these brave men and women are never forgotten and that they are laid to rest in a suitable and respectful manner.