Russia Scrubbing All Traces of Ukraine from Mariupol

The city with 10K graves has been 'Russified,' AP reports
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2022 4:50 PM CST
Russia Scrubbing All Traces of Ukraine from Mariupol
This combination of satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies shows the Staryi Krym cemetery in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 29, 2022, top, and additional graves seen on Nov. 30, 2022.   (Maxar Technologies via AP, File)

Eight months after Mariupol fell into Russian hands, Russia is eradicating all vestiges of Ukraine from it, along with the evidence of war crimes buried in its buildings, reports the AP. Workers are tearing down bombed-out buildings at a rate of at least one a day, hauling away shattered bodies with the debris, while Russian soldiers, builders, administrators, and doctors are replacing the thousands of Ukrainians who have died or left the city 25 miles from the Russian border. Many of its Ukrainian street names are reverting to Soviet ones, with the Avenue of Peace that cuts through Mariupol to be labeled Lenin Avenue. Even the large sign that announces the name of the city has been Russified, repainted with the red, white, and blue of the Russian flag and the Russian spelling.

The few open schools teach a Russian curriculum, phone and television networks are Russian, the Ukrainian currency is dying out, and Mariupol is now in the Moscow time zone. There are plans to demolish well over 50,000 homes. But no matter what the Russians do, they are building upon a city of death. An AP analysis of satellite imagery taken over the past eight months of occupation shows 8,500 new graves in the outlying Staryi Krym cemetery alone, with possibly multiple bodies beneath each mound. In all, a total at least 10,300 new graves are scattered around Mariupol, the AP found, and the death toll might run three times higher than an early estimate of at least 25,000.

The AP investigation drew on interviews with 30 residents from Mariupol, including 13 living under Russian occupation; satellite imagery; hundreds of videos gathered from inside the city, and Russian documents showing a master plan. Taken together, they chronicle a comprehensive effort to suppress Mariupol's collective history and memory as a Ukrainian city. Videos taken across the city and satellite images show that munitions have left their mark on nearly every building across its 64 square miles. Large swaths of the city are devoid of color and life, with fire-blackened walls, grey demolition dust and dead trees with shredded foliage. But the worst destruction Mariupol suffered may be measured in its death toll, which will never be fully known. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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