The bones of around 8000 people were found in over two dozen graves in Ukraine, believed to be the victims of Joseph Stalin. They were found in graves close to Odessa's airport, making it one of the largest mass graves unearthed in Ukraine so far.
The head of the regional branch of National Memory Institute, Sergiy Gutsalyuk, believes they were executed in the 1930s by Stalin's notorious NKVD secret police unit, a precursor to the late Soviet-era KGB. Their crimes and nationalities remain unknown.
He told AFP that the execution dates back to 1937-39, known as Stalin's Great Terror. Victims numbers may increase as the excavations would continue and were discovered after the exploratory works started as part of plans to expand the airport's territory.
The historian said it would be impossible to identify the victims, as the documents of that era are classified and kept in Russia. He said they would never get them as the ties between the two countries deteriorated since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and threw its weight behind the armed separatists in Ukraine.
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