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Russia, Estonia disagree over number of exhumed soldiers

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MOSCOW/TALLINN, June 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could demand Estonia conduct a further exhumation in central Tallinn to confirm the number of Soviet soldiers buried there, while Estonia said Thursday all the soldiers were exhumed in late April.

Mikhail Kamynin, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said there could have been more than 12 bodies buried at the site, because one soldier appears to be missing.

DNA tests carried out on all the dead soldiers have revealed that Captain Ivan Sysoyev, who died September 22, 1944 and was buried at the site, was not among the exhumed soldiers, which means that more than 12 soldiers could have been originally buried there.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry has officially requested that Estonian authorities provide all documentation, including video records, related to the exhumation process in [central Tallinn,]" Kamynin said. "After expert analysis we could demand a repeat exhumation to specify the number of bodies buried there."

However, the Estonian Defense Ministry said Thursday the exhumation had been complete.

Kamynin said relatives of just four of the soldiers had been traced. All the relatives said they would like the remains reburied in Russia.

Estonia said the unidentified bodies would be reburied at a military cemetery in the Estonian capital on July 3.

Defense Minister Madis Mikko said many of the Soviet soldiers buried in central Tallinn had been reburied in 1945, and some documents could have been mixed up. He said historical photos showed that 12 coffins were buried at the site in 1945.

In late April, Estonian authorities relocated a Soviet war memorial in the capital and exhumed the remains of soldiers buried there, sparking furious protests among ethnic Russians in the Baltic state, and in Russia.

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