19th-century soldier found in coffin unearthed in Ardahan to be returned to Poland: Minister
A 19th-century Russian military officer who was found inside an unearthed coffin in the eastern province of Ardahan is of Polish origin and will be returned to Poland, Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said.
The soldier, who was unearthed in a remarkably well-preserved condition back in April, was identified as Lt. Col. Karl Karlovich Rjepetsky, who was a member of the 78th Navaginsky regiment of the 20th infantry division of the 1st Caucasian Army Corps.
Rjepetsky reportedly died in northwestern Anatolia in 1894, daily Habertürk reported.
Speaking during a visit to the nearby Kars Museum, Kurtulmuş said the issue of the unearthed soldier came onto the agenda during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Poland visit.
“We know that the person who lied here was of Polish origin. We also know his family members now in Poland. We have started the return process of this body. The Russian side will also be included in this process as this soldier was also Russian. The Polish side demands that this man be buried in the place where he was from, and maybe a tomb or mausoleum will be erected in Poland,” he added.
The coffin, which was initially believed to have belonged to Russian general Vasiliy Geyman, was unearthed on April 26 during excavations to lay the foundation of a construction project in Ardahan.
Rjepetsky’s remains were subsequently put under protection at the Kars Museum.
Previously, Necmettin Alp, the general director of the Kars Museum, had said the officer was believed to have been killed during the Ottoman-Russian War in 1877-78.