Stalin's Terror mass grave unearthed in Ukraine

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Exhumation team of volunteers during exhumation procedure of mass grave, which according to Donetsk Peoples Republic officials consist of 40 unidentified civil bodies who were allegedly killed as a result of shellings in Snegnoe, Ukraine on August 19, 2021. (Photo by Alexander Usenko/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Exhumation team of volunteers during exhumation procedure of mass grave, which according to Donetsk Peoples Republic officials consist of 40 unidentified civil bodies who were allegedly killed as a result of shellings in Snegnoe, Ukraine on August 19, 2021. (Photo by Alexander Usenko/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
  • The remains of between 5 000 to 8 000 people believed to be victims of Stalin's terror have been discovered in Ukraine.
  • This has been one of the largest mass graves found in Ukraine so far.
  • The number of victims may increase as excavations increase.


The remains of thousands of people believed to be victims of Stalin's Terror have been discovered in Ukraine's southern city of Odessa, local authorities said on Wednesday.

The bones of between 5 000 to 8 000 people were found in over two dozen graves close to Odessa's airport, making it one of the largest mass graves unearthed in Ukraine so far.

Sergiy Gutsalyuk, the head of the regional branch of the National Memory Institute, believes they were executed in 1930s by Stalin's notorious NKVD secret police unit, a precursor to the late Soviet-era KGB.

Gutsalyuk told AFP that the number of victims may increase as the excavations continue.

The remains were discovered after exploratory works started as part of plans to expand the airport's territory, he said.

Some mass graves had already been unearthed in the area in previous years, he added.

The prisoners' nationalities and the crimes for which they were sentenced to die remain unknown.

But the historian said that the executions date back to 1937-39, the time known as Stalin's Great Terror.

ALSO READ | Canada mourns 215 children after remains found at indigenous school

Gutsalyuk said it would be impossible to identify the victims as documents of that era are classified and kept in Moscow.

"These documents will never be handed over to us under the current government in Russia," he said.

Ties between the ex-Soviet countries have deteriorated sharply since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and threw its weight behind armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

According to estimates made by Ukrainian historians, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians were imprisoned or executed in Gulag camps during the Stalinist repressions in the 1930s.

One of the best-known execution sites is the forest near the village of Bykivnia on the outskirts of Kiev, where tens of thousands of victims were buried in 1937-1941.

Millions of Ukrainians also died in the great famine of 1932-1933, which Ukraine regards as a genocide orchestrated by Stalin.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 1468 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 8097 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1676 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.47
-2.2%
Rand - Pound
21.05
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
18.91
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.09
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Platinum
974.02
0.0%
Palladium
1,623.95
0.0%
Gold
1,865.16
0.0%
Silver
22.35
0.0%
Brent Crude
79.94
-2.8%
Top 40
74,082
+0.6%
All Share
80,241
+0.6%
Resource 10
75,186
+0.7%
Industrial 25
103,461
+0.8%
Financial 15
16,550
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE