A new Russian city is being built on the graves of thousands of war victims in Ukraine's Mariupol
Russia is building a new city on the ruins of Mariupol -- Ukraine's once thriving port city and the city which became a symbol of the country's resistance to the war.
Months after Ukraine's port city - Mariupol - fell in May, Russia is building a new city where the war claimed thousands of lives. An investigative report by AP found that a new Russian city is being built on the ruins of Mariupol with materials from at least one European company.
Across the city, Russian workers are tearing down bombed-out buildings at a rate of at least one a day, hauling away shattered bodies alongwith the debris. The once thriving city is on its way to becoming a garrison city with Russian soldiers, builders, administrators and doctors replacing the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have died or left.
Russia is erasing any signs of the city's Ukrainian history as street names are renamed to Soviet ones and the large sign that announces the name of the city has been repainted with the red, white and blue of the Russian flag and the Russian spelling.The Avenue of Peace that cuts through Mariupol will now be called Lenin Avenue.
According to AP, the few schools which are open teach a Russian curriculum, phone and television networks are now Russian, the Ukrainian currency is dying out, and Mariupol is now in the Moscow time zone.
Mariupol was a key target for the Russians since its tanks rolled into Ukraine on February 24 due to its location - the city is a port on the Sea of Azov and crucial for Russian supply lines.
The city bore the brunt of nonstop airstrikes and artillery and the residents had their communications severed, and their food and water cut off.
However, Mariupol did not give up easily. By the time the last Ukrainian fighters surrendered in May after 86 days, the city had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.
That resistance came at a high price as Russian forces ensured that the city was thoroughly destroyed. Videos taken by AP across the city and satellite images show fire-blackened walls, grey demolition dust and dead trees with shredded foliage.
The biggest loss, however, is the loss of human lives. AP's investigation revealed that at least 10,300 new graves are scattered around Mariupol and it is likely that thousands more bodies never even made it to the graveyard.
Back in May, when the city finally fell, the municipal government in exile estimated 25,000 people at a minimum had died. But at least three people in the city since June say the number killed is triple that or more, based on conversations with workers documenting body collection from the streets for the Russian occupation authorities.
Courtesy: India today