Saturday, November 22, 2014

The haunting pilgrimage site of Saur Mogila - Telegraph

More than two months since the last shots were fired in anger on the bare hillside of Saur Mogila, a burst of automatic fire broke the silence.

A trio of rebel fighters, huddled in padded jackets against the driving rain, waited for the salute to fade before trailing back to their car.

The fighters were paying a personal tribute to comrades killed here during one of the bloodiest battles of the six month conflict between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists.

But the history of this battlefield means it could become a place of pilgrimage and a key symbol in a new national identity rebel leaders are scrambling to build following their declaration of sovereign governments after elections earlier this month.

It is a haunted place. Even the name - mogila means "tomb" in both Ukrainian and Russian, and the hill is topped by a prehistoric burial mound - lends itself to ghosts.

Destroyed flak guns, discarded ammunition boxes, and bits of incoming rockets lie amongst the shattered rubble of what was once a vast war memorial.

The towering obelisk is on its side, the larger-than life statues of the Soviet memorial shattered by bullet and shell holes, while fresh graves bearing the emblems of separatist fighting units have been dug into the slopes. On the processional avenue leading up the hill, a charred armoured personnel carrier stands where it crashed into a tree.

Complete story at - The haunting pilgrimage site of Saur Mogila - Telegraph

NewImageThe ruins of the Second World War memorial on the heights of Saur Mogila (Roland Oliphant)

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