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«They keep lying to us»: Parents of Moskva cruiser conscripts still in the dark about their children

More than six weeks have elapsed since Russia’s flagship, the Moskva cruiser, sank in the Black Sea. The desperate parents of the conscripts who are considered missing in action are demanding answers but are getting nothing but promises of medals and rewards.

Der Spiegel interviewed the mother of a conscript who died on the Moskva. The interviewee's name was changed to Alexandra Kolesnikova for confidentiality reasons.

She shared that the search-and-rescue operation launched on the sunken cruiser had failed and that the Russian Ministry of Defense kept providing the parents with controversial information.

“I know for certain they’re trying to cover something up. Ever since the ship sank, their version has been changing,” said Kolesnikova.

According to her, the Black Sea Navy commanders were pressuring the parents at the meeting with the sailors’ families in April.

“They were lying to us, cold-eyed and cynical, from the very beginning. And they keep lying,” she said.

Kolesnikova made inquiries about her son at the Russian Ministry of Defense, but the officials responded he was not on the lists of the wounded, the dead, or the missing in action. Over the last few weeks, Kolesnikova has not found out what happened to her son yet.

Dmitry Shkrebets, another conscript's father, failed to confirm the conclusion of the search-and-rescue operation in conversation with Agentstvo. He said he didn’t know if it was still ongoing.

The sailor's father accused the Ministry of Defense of lying and withholding the truth about the cruiser, while his wife told The Insider they had visited the military hospital in Crimea, where the wounded from the cruiser had been brought. By her estimates, there were around 200 injured sailors. In all, the missing sailor’s mother says, the cruiser's crew included over 500 members.

Earlier, Olesya Dubinina, the mother of another missing conscript sailor Nikita Syromyasov, said that the Black Sea Navy commanders explained the lack of information on the missing sailors by the fire on the ship: the bodies had allegedly burned beyond recognition.

On April 13, Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed they had hit the Moskva with Neptune missiles. On April 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense admitted the wreckage of the Moskva. Shortly before that, the official Russian version spoke of “ammunition that detonated” as the cause of the fire.

Once it became known the warship had sunk, the conscripts’ parents started looking for information on survivors and casualties.

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