Slovakia: Russia accuses mayor of harming WWI soldier graves
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Officials in Slovakia dismissed claims by the Russian Embassy that graves of Russian soldiers from World War I were damaged on orders from the local village mayor.
The embassy said Russian Ambassador Igor Bratchikov visited the site in Ladomirova earlier this week and found the graves “almost completely destroyed.” In a statement, it accused Mayor Vladislav Cuper of being responsible for what it called “a blasphemous act.”
A total of 270 Russian 8th army soldiers who died in what is now eastern Slovakia were buried at a village cemetery. The embassy said it financed a costly renovation of the graves eight years ago.
Maros Zilinka, the prosecutor-general of Slovakia, said authorities would investigate what happened at the site.
Since Russian invaded Ukraine in late February, several former communist nations and ex-Soviet republics have sped up the process of removing their remaining Soviet-era memorials.
Cuper denied having the graves destroyed. He said some dilapidated concrete was removed and that his government planned to fix up the cemetery, as well as to approach the Russian Embassy with a request to financially support the work.
In a Facebook post, Slovakia’s national police force threw its weight behind the mayor and accused the embassy of lying. It said the mayor has received life threats following the Russian claims.
The territory of modern-day Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which fought against Russia during World War I.