Several dozen women gathered yesterday outside a military base in central Russia to demand Moscow come clean about where their husbands are, after reports of secret funerals for soldiers clandestinely sent to Ukraine.
The young women - mostly in their 20s, a few with small children - huddled outside a base for paratroopers in Kostroma.
Some 350 soldiers from the city north of Moscow were sent on military drills to the border with Ukraine and then went incommunicado, said one of the women, 26-year-old Valeria Sokolova.
Several of the soldiers had apparently been returned in pine boxes, she said, adding that about 15 wounded soldiers were also flown back earlier this week.
Military commanders, she said, had refused to confirm that their loved ones had been sent to fight in Ukraine.
"There would only tell us that they are not in Russia."
Sokolova said local officials told them they could not hold a formal demonstration or brandish banners outside the base.
Sokolova said she last heard from her husband on Saturday when he told her that he and his comrades had received their marching orders.
"Some will ride in tanks and I will be in a Kamaz (truck)," her 25-year-old husband told her, without specifying where they were being sent.