Authorities in the southern Siberian republic of Khakasia have stopped publishing the obituaries of local soldiers killed fighting in Ukraine to avoid their inclusion in independent media tallies of Russia’s war dead, the local RFE/RL affiliate Sibir.Realii reported Tuesday.
Citing an anonymous source close to the Khakasia regional government, Sibir.Realii wrote that the move was directly linked to the use of the public obituaries by journalists to calculate the number of soldiers killed in Ukraine.
The BBC’s Russian-language service and independent news outlet Mediazona have used open-source data such as obituaries to count the deaths of around 25,000 Russian soldiers since President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
According to their tally, Khakassia, with a population of just over half a million, has just 135 publicly confirmed war deaths.
The regional government of Khakasia last published an obituary of a local soldier killed in Ukraine on April 26, according to Sibir.Realii.
Moscow rarely comments on its war dead and the Russian Defense Ministry last updated its soldier death toll in September, when it placed the figure at under 6,000 killed.
But leaked Western intelligence documents, citing calculations by the Federal Security Service (FSB), put the actual number closer to 110,00 Russian soldiers wounded and killed by February this year.