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Ukraine gathers Russian dead in chilled train for prisoner exchange

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Reuters

Tue, May 24, 2022

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Summary Bodies sometimes exchanged for prisoners Ukraine uses DNA, tattoos to identify corpses 12 bodies found over 3 days in one village MALA ROHAN, Ukraine, May 24 (Reuters) - Ukraine is gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers strewn among the rubble of formerly occupied towns and using everything from DNA to tattoos to verify their identities in the hope of exchanging them for prisoners of war.

Volunteers have helped the military gather 60 bodies in the northeastern region of Kharkiv where Russian forces have retreated in recent weeks, stacking them up in a refrigerated rail carriage.

Bodies are sometimes used as part of prisoner exchanges and other times in exchanges for Ukrainian bodies, said Anton Ivannikov, captain of military-civil cooperation branch, Ukrainian Armed Forces, which is coordinating the effort.

At a recent recovery effort in the village of Mala Rohan, just east of Kharkiv city, Reuters witnessed volunteers using ropes to drag the bodies of two Russian soldiers from a well between houses severely damaged by shelling.

The volunteers dug another body out of a shallow grave marked with a makeshift cardboard sign that said "Russian occupant buried here" with the soldier's name and date of burial.

"Most likely, he shot himself." Russia's Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the allegation that Russian soldiers may have been shot for deserting or on whether it would consider exchanging bodies for Ukrainian prisoners of war.

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