How the Remains of Soviet Intelligence Officer Kuznetsov Were Taken Hostage in Lvov

A line has seemingly been drawn under the story about the ashes of Soviet intelligence officer Nikolay Kuznetsov in Lvov.

In February, Mayor Andrey Sadovoy refused to transfer his remains to Russia, as was requested by his relatives after the repeated defacing of his grave. Back then the Mayor of Lvov decided to make the ashes of the deceased a subject for bargaining and said that until Russia returns detained Ukrainians, it will not receive the remains.

The Lvov City Council today reported that it consulted with the Ministry of Culture and the SBU about this topic and issued a final verdict – Russia will not receive Kuznetsov.

The Ukrainian “Strana” news agency remembered what is known about the story of the ashes of the famous intelligence officer, and why in Ukraine his remains were essentially taken hostage.

What was decided by the City Council

On April 24th the Executive Committee of the Lvov City Council considered the decision on the remains of Kuznetsov. According to Deputy Mayor Andrey Moskalenko, before that the city appealed to the SBU and the Ministry of Culture for consultations.

We received answers. In particular, the letter of the Ministry of Culture states: ‘In this regard, in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which is still ongoing, any official contact between Ukraine and the aggressor state, including related to the historical past, are undesirable, as they may have negative social and political consequences. Therefore, consideration of the question of exhumation and transfer of the remains of Nikolay Kuznetsov to the Russian Federation at present is impractical and premature,” it says in the response of the Ministry official.

Of course, the reason given by the Ministry of Culture sounds controversial – because any official contact with the Russian Federation is undesirable, which applies to this situation too.

At the same time, Ukraine has a lot of other contact with the official authorities of Russia – concerning prisoners, Donbass, fishing in the Sea of Azov, buying Russian oil, coal, electricity, and so on.

And in the case of Kuznetsov, it’s not only the authorities of the Russian Federation that ask to return his ashes, but also the relatives of the intelligence officer. I.e., individuals.

Even more interesting was the response of the SBU – they said that they would take into account this information during the negotiation process on the return of Ukrainian prisoners from Russia. Thus claiming that living prisoners are going to be swapped for the ashes of a man who died decades ago, which in general is not far from taking a dead man hostage.

“Taking into account these responses, we have prepared a decision to refuse to grant permission for reburying, taking into account the position of state institutions,” said Andrey Moskalenko.

Epic with Kuznetsov in Lvov

The remains of Nikolay Kuznetsov in Russia were going to be reburied at the military memorial complex in Ekaterinburg. Such a request was made to the Lvov authorities by the leadership of the Sverdlovsk region of Russia and the niece of the intelligence officer. The reason they referred to was the constant desecration of his grave by local nationalists.

The grave of Nikolay Kuznetsov is located on the Hill of Glory in Lvov. He is one of the most famous intelligence officers and saboteurs of the Red Army. He was abandoned in the German rear in the area of Rovno. With documents in the name of Lieutenant Paul Siebert and perfect knowledge of German, he entered the circles of German officers.

He collected information and personally eliminated more than a dozen generals and officials of Nazi Germany. He hunted the gauleiter of Ukraine Erich Koch.

He died whilst fighting against UPA on March 8th 1944 in the village of Boratin in the Brodovsky district of the Lvov region. He received the title of hero of the Soviet Union posthumously.

Over the past few years, Kuznetsov’s grave has been vandalised on several occasions.

After the City Council received a letter from the niece of the intelligence officer and the leadership of the Sverdlovsk region, the mayor of the city Andrey Sadovoy said that it is not necessary to hurry in this matter, because the ashes of Kuznetsov can become a “trump card” during the exchange of prisoners.

“If it helps to free our guys, we will definitely move towards the policy of our state,” said Sadovoy, and proposed to discuss this issue with the SBU.

And now a decision has officially been made at the city level.

Viktoriya Venk

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