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02.09.2014

More Russian conscripts forced to fight in Ukraine

   

Conscripts doing military service in the Tula oblast are reported to have been forced to sign contracts allowing them to be sent to Ukraine.  Mothers of soldiers from military unit 33842 told TV Dozhd that 8 soldiers had signed themselves, while the heads of the unit had signed for the others on Aug 19.

They say also that the soldiers and commanders of the fifth regiment have not been in contact for two weeks.  According to their information, the men were at exercises in the Rostov oblast.

TV Dozhd tried to contact the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers for the Tula oblast, but they did not get in touch with either the journalists, or the conscripts’ mothers.

It is, unfortunately, not inconceivable that the committee learned of the problems faced by their colleagues after the latter exposed details about Russia’s deployment of soldiers in Ukraine.  On Aug 29 the Russian Justice Ministry informed that it had added the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of St Petersburg to the list of so-called ‘foreign agents’. 

That same day relatives of 18-year-old conscript Andrei Vilkhovyk confirmed information previously provided by several dozen relatives of soldiers, namely that around 200 soldiers were being forced to sign contracts.

Vilkhovyk was doing his service in the Ryazan oblast, but was moved to the Rostov oblast at the end of July.  TV Dozhd points out that the military unit is next to a border crossing point between Ukraine and Russia.

His family explains that he phoned them a few days ago and said that the soldiers in his unit were being forced to sign contracts.  His parents told him not to sign under any circumstances, especially since his military service was due to end on Nov 7.  He agreed, yet that same day in the evening he phoned his elder sister and said that he’d signed the contract, giving no further information.

His relatives and those of other conscripts have been told the same thing: that the young men receive threats to spoil their military service papers and that the management will sign for them.

On Aug 28, the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers in the Stavropol area has drawn up a list of around one hundred Russian soldiers killed and a further three hundred injured.  The head of the Committee Ludmila Bogatenkova told TV Dozhd that the list was put together from various sources in the armed forces which, for obvious reasons, she cannot reveal..

TV Dozhd, the last independent and constantly pressurized television channel in Russia is carrying out its own investigation into the deaths and injuries of Russian soldiers in Ukraine that the authorities are going to huge lengths to try to conceal and deny.  These have included a macabre farce in which the wife of one of the paratroopers killed – Leonid Kichatkin, or somebody using her phone, claimed that her husband had not been killed and that he was standing by her side. She even handed the phone to this man who ‘confirmed’ that he was Kichatkin.

Leonid Kichatkin’s freshly-dug grave lies in the Vybuty Cemetery outside Pskov and had his name clearly marked, though not where he had died, until media presence led to the plaque, wreaths etc. being removed (more details here). 

There have also been attacks on journalists from TV Dozhd and others, including a particularly savage attack on Lev Shlosberg.  This came just days after his article “The Dead and the Living” describes the funerals on Aug 25 of Leonid Kichatkin and Alexander Osipov and stated clearly that the Russian state was trying to hide the fact that it is sending its sons to war. 

It is frustrating that the BBC and other media which insist on speaking of “Ukrainian claims” that Russian forces are fighting in Ukraine ignore not only the clear evidence from NATO, the USA and Polish media, but also Russian reports coming through despite the authorities efforts to silence them.

Halya Coynash

read the text in French: Encore des conscrits russes forcés de combattre en Ukraine

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