Parents of First Russian to Die in Syria Demand Repeat Autopsy

The family doubts the military's account that their son hanged himself; his body was in a poor state when delivered for burial.

Andrew Osborn
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Russian servicemen unload a coffin containing the body of Vadim Kostenko, the first Russian soldier to die in Syria, October 27, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Andrew Osborn

REUTERS - The parents of the first Russian soldier to die in Syria are demanding a repeat autopsy, the Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported on Wednesday, a day after they said they doubted the military's account that their 19-year-old son had hanged himself.

The body of Vadim Kostenko, the first Russian serviceman confirmed dead in four weeks of air strikes in Syria, was delivered on Tuesday to his parents, who told Reuters they did not believe he had killed himself.

Alexander and Svetlana Kostenko said their son had sounded cheerful over the phone as recently as Saturday, the day he died while working at an air base on the Syrian coast. Russia's defense ministry said he had killed himself because of problems in his personal life with an unnamed girl.

Novaya Gazeta reported on Wednesday, the day that Vadim's funeral is due to take place, that Vadim's body was in a poor state. It cited the dead soldier's uncle as saying his nose, jaw and neck had been broken, that the back of his head had been smashed in, and that he had a cut extending to his belly button.

The official reason for his death was asphyxiation, the newspaper said.

Separately, the office of Russia's main military prosecutor said on Wednesday it was looking into Kostenko's death. It said its initial findings confirmed he had hanged himself.