Russian involved in reburying soldiers killed in WW2 rues his country didn't learn 'right lesson from history'

Dobrovolski described as "absolute nonsense" the comparison of Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

Published: 12th September 2023 03:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th September 2023 03:30 PM   |  A+A-

Russian missile strike on Ukraine market kills 17

Ukrainian soldiers move to the ambulance an injured woman after a Russian rocket attack on a food market in the city center of Kostiantynivka, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. (AP)

By Online Desk

It seems like Russia didn’t learn the right lesson from history, rues Konstantin Dobrovolski, who has spent decades finding and reburying those killed in WW2.

The 70-year-old Dobrovolski, in an interview with The Guardian, termed the Ukraine invasion as "madness."

Armed with little more than a map, a shovel and an old metal detector, Dobrovolski has scoured the hostile landscape of Russia’s far north for the last 33 years in search of the long-forgotten remains of Soviet second world war soldiers.

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, puts the number of bodies buried by Dobrovolski at 20,000. During these 43 years, there was not a day when Konstantin Alekseich, Uncle Kostya, as the young searchers call him, did not think about those who died in that war.

Dobrovolski has told his story in a haunting documentary produced by the Novaya Gazeta.

Dobrovolski described as "absolute nonsense" the comparison of Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, according to The Guardian.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Putin tapped into the memory, language and imagery of the past war to justify the attack, telling his nation that men were “fighting for the same thing as their fathers and grandfathers” and framing Ukraine as a successor to Nazi Germany, The Guardian noted.

“Our borders were drawn in 1991. What the hell are we doing in Ukraine? It’s madness and it needs to stop,” he said.

Pointing to the sinister slogan “we can do it again,” which has gained popularity on Victory Day in recent years, he said his country “appeared to have forgotten that war is a tragedy, its pain and suffering”.

For Dobrovolski, the war in Ukraine was also personal. After having recovered the remains of thousands of Soviet soldiers, last spring he had to bury his own son who died fighting near Bakhmut as part of the notorious Wagner group, The Guardian said.

Sergei had signed up with Wagner from prison, where he was promised freedom in return for a six-month stint in Ukraine with the group. “I tried to do everything to stop him from going, I told him ‘what are you doing son, it’s a one-way ticket’. But I failed.”

Together, with a small team of committed volunteers, Dobrovolski, has dedicated his life to finding, identifying and reburying the remains of more than 100,000 Soviet troops who are believed to have died on the very northern part of the Soviet defence line.

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