Russian authorities in Ukraine’s occupied city of Donetsk are tossing the bodies of their dead soldiers in a secret dump “by the thousands” and charging their loved ones money to find them.
That’s according to a new audio recording released by Ukraine’s Security Service on Tuesday, which is purportedly an intercepted telephone conversation between two Russians discussing how one of their missing friends was finally found.
In the two-and-a-half minute recording, an unidentified man tells his female relative that the fate of “Inna’s brother” is finally known after he went missing a month ago.
“It’s better that you don’t hear this,” the man says at first, reluctant to spill all the grim details.
After more urging, he finally explains that the unidentified dead man’s “sister went to Donetsk, and there, basically, roughly speaking, is a dump.”
“They just toss them there. And then later it’s easier to make as if they disappeared without a trace. It’s easier for them to pretend they are just missing, and that’s it,” he said, noting that “there are thousands.”
“There’s nowhere left to place them. It’s a dump. I’m telling you in plain Russian—a dump. It’s as tall as a person,” he said, adding that the site is “fenced off, sealed, they don’t let anyone in.”
According to him, the only reason local authorities at the dump site let the woman find her brother was because she paid “good money.”
Watch: Wiretaps appear catch Russian soldiers sabotaging their own equipment
After that, he said, “they rearranged it until she found [the body.]”
“It’s not a morgue, it’s a dump.… They are bringing [bodies] by the thousands,” he said, calling it a “shitshow.”
No further details were provided by Ukrainian intelligence on the exact location of the makeshift morgue, and it was not immediately clear if the man heard in the audio was a Russian soldier himself, though Ukrainian authorities described him as an “invader.”
The disturbing intercept comes after Al Jazeera on Monday released footage of refrigerated train cars holding the unclaimed bodies of Russian troops killed in Ukraine. Inside, there appeared to be human-size bodies stacked on top of each other in white bags. Ukrainian authorities said Moscow has refused to take the bodies back home, apparently to keep the lid on the sky-high death toll.
While Russia has claimed only 1,300 of its troops have died in its “special military operation” to rescue Russian-speakers in Ukraine (by bombing predominantly Russian-speaking areas), Ukraine’s military has put the death toll at about 26,000.