''Over time conducting searches of those who deceased in Donbass is getting more difficult'' says Mr. Zhylkin

The way how the searches of the remains of the deceased in the ATO zone are conducted. With the latest news we have a guest - Yaroslav Zhylkin, Head of "Black Tulip" search mission.

Valentina Troyan: Last week in the news there was information about finding the remains of unknown people in Donetsk. Where did it happen and what does the examination suggest?

Yaroslav Zhylkin: Our search group works in the near-front zone with the local population. Of course, people are strongly intimidated and afraid of telling someone an extra word, but thankfully to our reputation, people share with us certain information. For the last time we were asked to check one place, it proved to be a half-filled in blindage in which were discovered the remains. We reported to the representatives of the National Police, and the experts went to the place.

Judging by the clothes and contents of the pockets, most likely that the person participated in the armed hostilities. The body was sent to the morgue, where will be identified the DNA profile and placed to the General database of Kiev. After that, it will be compared with DNA profiles of relatives who wrote an application.

Previously the surname of the deceased one is known and, supposedly, this is a resident of Gorlovka who fought on that side. That is why now we will contact the relatives in order to help them do a DNA-examination and draw a comparison.

Valentina Troyan: Do search groups exist in "DPR" and "LPR"?

Yaroslav Zhylkin: In "DPR" there was founded the Commission on Prisoners of War and the missing. We have been co-operating with this Commission since 2014, there are contacts and data exchange. But, unfortunately, now the work is not as active as it was until the end of 2015, we are no longer allowed to go every day and explore the territory.

Now we are waiting for the permission to continue searches at the same pace.

This is important because two years have passed, and the area we are exploring has already heavily overgrown with grass, the trenches have almost come up with the land, so making efforts on search is getting more difficult. Earlier surface inspection of the territory gave results, burial mounds were visible, in some places there were the helmets for orientation, but now the territory has changed beyond recognition.

But we do not leave our efforts, so now we are cooperating with the search group of "LPR", this is a Union of Veterans and the Afghans who helped us very much, especially during the events in Debaltsevo.

Valentina Troyan: What was the reason for arising these obstacles?

Yaroslav Zhylkin: The calmer life is at the front line, the more is bureaucracy. I remember my first visits, when at the checkpoints nobody checked either a car or a passport. We said with what kind of mission we were going and they let us pass without problems. Now after 1-1.5 years need to undergo procedure of check of the guards, checking some lists, there is required the relevant order, pass, etc.

Alyona Badyuk: You said about the existence of the unified database on missing persons. What information is contained there?

Yaroslav Zhylkin: This database is not finished yet, it is replenished, this is a process that can last for years. Because before there had been a separate account of servicemen, but, nevertheless, they could not properly collect all the information about who is listed as missing and who is captured.

SBU (the Security Service of Ukraine) had its own lists, the National police had theirs, volunteers were not counted at all. That is why, the number of possible losses and missing people in volunteer battalions is not determined, because there were no lists.

Civil proceedings are a separate category. Until a person reports the loss of a close person, the authorities don't know that he had gone missing or that something had happened to him.

Today, by my information, more than 500 civilians and more than 100 servicemen who were be on record at the account are listed as missing.

Valentina Troyan: Probably, you know that last week there appeared the information that in uncontrolled by Ukraine Lutugino district there were found the remains of three people. Do you know anything about that?

Yaroslav Zhylkin: There is a little bit mixed information there with pro-bandit accent. But it is clear that there are indeed human remains, of at least one person. There is a passport with a blue cover and one can see digits which are listed in database as the passport of a missing civilian. Also, in the photo one can see the certificate of a civilian person issued on the territory which is uncontrolled by Ukraine at the moment. So, it is still hard to say something for sure, but most likely, it comes to deceased civilian people.

Valentina Troyan: In mass media there has recently appeared the information on place of burial of the military in Donetsk Region on the uncontrolled territories. Do you have any information of this kind on Lugansk Region?

Yaroslav Zhylkin: We were informed by the people, who returned from fighting, on the possible place of burial of the deceased on the uncontrolled territory. This information was collected, but since we could not make frequent trips, the information was simply accumulating. Now we are gradually establishing contacts, but faced with the problem I spoke about, when the primary places of burial are no more visible because everything has overgrown. It is just seen that on the field there was fighting, equipment burnt , there are the remnants of iron and ammunition, but places of burial are not visible. So, for making attempts on search, one has to open all this. To do it manually is impossible, there should be involved heavy equipment, but there is the question of demining. All this is difficult.

So, now we are looking for eyewitnesses of the events who would be able to locate the place to make it easier for us to carry out search works.


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