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Dozens of people gathered in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Friday to mourn the sinking of the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, a symbol, the crowd heard, of hope, renewal and power up to his disappearance.
Some hugged and others laid flowers in memory of the Moskva missile cruiser at a monument to the founding of the Russian Navy in 1696 in central Sevastopol, headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet.
Moscow, which annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014, said the ship sank while being towed in rough seas after a fire caused by an explosion of munitions.
Ukraine said one of its missiles sank it.
“Even for those who had not boarded it, the Moskva was a symbol for everyone, a symbol of our power, of our hope, of the rebirth of the fleet in the 1990s” following the collapse of the Soviet Union, said the reserve captain. Sergei Gorbachev, addressing the crowd in his navy uniform.
“There will be victories, there will be tragedies, but the memory remains,” Gorbachev said.
The crowd, which included a number of people who served on the ship, stood in respectful silence. Some wore the ribbon of St. George, the symbol of the Russian army.
“The loss of every ship, especially a flagship, is a tragedy for all those tens of thousands of people who served there for more than 20 years,” said priest Georgiy Ployakov.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a “special operation.”