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«Keep it dark.» Missing Moskva sailor's comrade posts about his death, refuses to speak with relatives

Relatives of sailor Leonid Savin, who had served on the Moskva cruiser and was reported missing, found a VKontakte user's post saying Savin had died during the sinking of the cruiser.

«April 13, 2022: the sinking of the guards missile cruiser Moskva and my second birthday. On that date my friend and fellow man, Leonid Savin, who can really be called a comrade, died,» Gleb Lemeshchenko wrote on his page on April 23.

Savin's brother Vladimir noticed Lemeshchenko's post, Agentstvo reports. He tried to contact Lemeshchenko to find out about the fate of his relative, but when he asked him what had happened, Lemeshchenko replied he could not disclose the details, as «he is a soldier,» and «the country told me to keep it dark».

A screenshot of the correspondence was published by Dmitry Shkrebets, the father of another missing sailor who served on the Moskva cruiser. His son Dmitry, like Savin, is still missing. Dmitry also tried to contact Lemeshchenko but got the same answer: «I have no right to disclose details», after which Lemeshchenko blocked him.

Agentstvo was unable to confirm whether Lemeshchenko had been on the Moskva cruiser at the time of his death. Judging by his posts and photos in uniform available on social media, Gleb Lemeshchenko served in the Navy.

Gleb Lemeshchenko
Gleb Lemeshchenko

On the evening of April 13, the Ukrainian authorities said the Russian cruiser Moskva had been hit by Neptun missiles. A fire started on board the ship, which was in the Black Sea south of Odessa. In the evening of April 14, the Defense Ministry said the cruiser had sunk while being towed to port «due to hull damage from a fire caused by the detonation of ammunition.» It was reported that the entire crew, which numbered over 500 people, was «evacuated in a timely manner» to the ships of the Black Sea Fleet located in the area.

On April 16, the Defense Ministry showed a video of the crew of the sunken cruiser Moskva meeting with Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. There were about 100 sailors shown in the video.

On April 17, a VKontakte user, Dmitry Shkrebets, said his son Yegor was declared missing after the sinking of the Moskva cruiser. The sailor's father accused the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation of lying about what had happened to the ship. His wife told The Insider she accompanied him to the hospital in Rocky Bay, where the wounded from the cruiser had been brought. There, she said, she saw about 200 injured sailors. In all, according to the missing sailor's mother, there were more than 500 people on board the ship. «We looked at every burnt kid. I can't tell you how hard it is, but I couldn't find mine. There were only two hundred people, and there had been more than five hundred on the cruiser. Where were the others? We looked in Krasnodar, and everywhere else, we called everyone, but we couldn't find him», Irina Shkrebets said.

After reports of the sinking of the cruiser, the parents of Yegor and other conscripts began searching for information about the survivors and the dead. According to Irina Shkrebets, they were not allowed anywhere, and the unit commander refused to share any information about Yegor with his parents.

On the same day, April 17, Agentstvo reported another sailor who had served on the Moskva cruiser, Mark Tarasov, as missing. Journalists found his mother's post on VKontakte.

On April 18, the mother of Nikita Syromyasov, a 20-year-old native of Sysert, Sverdlovsk region, reported he had disappeared. «Nothing else is known. We visited two hospitals, he is not on the list, the authorities are silent! They don't want to say anything. We called the unit, they wouldn't give any details. We just don't know what to do, whom to call», Anna Syromyasova says.

Also on April 18, Dmitri Shkrebets said he had been contacted by three other families of conscripts who had disappeared after the sinking of the cruiser.

On April 19, the BBC reported on the missing 21-year-old conscript from the Amur region Sergei Grudinin. According to his mother, the Russian Defense Ministry hotline operators said her son «is alive, healthy and will get in touch at the first opportunity.» However, people who introduced themselves as commanders told her on the phone a few days ago that Sergei Grudinin had been killed.

Novaya Gazeta. Europe also spoke to the mother of a conscript sailor, without disclosing his name. According to her, nearly forty people died on the cruiser, several people are missing, and a lot of sailors are wounded. The newspaper's spokeswoman also said that «the cruiser was hit from land, from the Ukrainian side». «The wounded mostly had their limbs severed, because the explosions were so big - both from detonation and from rockets hits,» she said.

Journalists were also able to confirm the death of the midshipman Ivan Vakhrushev on social media. His wife wrote about his death. In April, the journalists of Real Time found information about Leonid Savin, an Alupka resident. He was drafted into the Navy on July 2, 2021. He was a conscript and was not going to sign a contract, his relatives say. On board the Moskva he served in supply support and helped in the kitchen.

On April 22, the Russian Defense Ministry broke its long silence and acknowledged the death of one sailor from the Moskva cruiser. Another 27 sailors were officially reported missing.

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