The horrors of the first half of the 20th century left plenty of mass graves scattered across Ukraine—and historians believe they have uncovered one of the largest yet. Researchers say between 5,000 and 8,000 bodies are in 29 graves at a site detected during work to expand an airport in Odessa, the BBC reports. Ukraine's Institute of National Memory says the victims were most likely killed by Soviet secret police in the late 1930s, during Josef Stalin's rule, but it will be impossible to identify them because the records are all in Russia. "These documents will never be handed over to us under the current government in Russia," Sergiy Gutsalyuk, head of the institute's regional branch, tells the AFP.
In a Facebook post, the institute said the number of victims in the mass graves hasn't been determined yet but it appears to be one of the largest such sites in the country. The institute says there are also believed to be mass graves in a military site adjacent to the airport site. The graves were detected with the help of a local historian who found information about mass executions in the area in Romanian archives, reports Radio Free Europe. Records show Soviet secret police ordered 8,600 death sentences in Odessa between 1938 and 1941. (Read more Ukraine stories.)