Soviet World War II soldier to be buried in Sweden

An anonymous Soviet soldier from World War II, whose remains have been in limbo since they were discovered huddled in a remote area of Sweden, could be buried near where he was found, the Russian embassy in Stockholm said on Friday.

The soldier, who has been named thanks to a tag found on his skeletal remains but not positively identified, apparently died of exposure shortly after crossing the border on fleeing from his Nazi captors in occupied Norway.

“We think we’re going to bury him here in Sweden,” embassy counsellor Nikolai Piatkov told AFP, adding that the Russian mission was still discussing the matter with Swedish authorities.

The remains of the soldier were found last August in the Arjeplog mountains in the far north of Sweden, which was officially neutral in World War II.

He was reportedly found just 100 metres (328 feet) from the Norwegian border, huddled down behind a wall of rocks he had apparently built in a futile attempt to shield himself from the harsh mountain weather.

Thanks to a dogtag clutched in the skeleton’s hand, it was determined that he was probably called Alexei Matveyev.

“We know that he was Alexei Matveyev, but it has been impossible to tell where he is from in Russia or to track down his family members,” Piatkov said, pointing out that the name was very common in Russia.

After scouring Russian military archives and coming up blank, Russian authorities have halted their search, but according to Piatkov a number of Russian journalists are still attempting to find the man’s family.

It now appears clear however that the soldier will be laid to rest in Sweden, some 60 years after his death.

“From a human perspective, it is good that he be laid to rest… All people who die should be buried,” Piatkov said.

“We think he will be buried in (the far north county of) Norrbotten where he was found and where there are other Soviet and Russian soldiers buried,” he added.