Entire Pskov paratrooper regiment killed in Ukraine?
The Pskov newspaper ‘Pskovskaya Guberniya’ has published a transcript of conversations apparently between two paratroopers which suggest that in fighting on Ukrainian territory almost all soldiers of the first regiment of the No. 76 Pskov airborne paratrooper division were killed.
The tapes were given, on condition of anonymity, to Lev Shlosberg, a local politician and owner of the paper. Shlosberg was savagely attacked on Aug 29, 4 days after publishing an article entitled “The Dead and the Living” in which he first revealed information about the deaths of two paratroopers. The site cannot be accessed, however a cache version can be found here.
According to the men talking, only around 10 paratroopers survived, with approximately 70 therefore killed.
They suggest that the figure could be as high as 140 since it was not a regular division, but not specially formed.
The fate of this particular paratrooper division has been shrouded in mystery, and Shlosberg is not the only journalist to have been attacked while endeavouring to establish the truth. There are good grounds for believing that relatives have also been placed under pressure to conceal all information not just about the circumstances of the deaths, but even the fact that the person has died.
While the Kremlin continues to deny any military involvement in Ukraine, more and more information has been coming to light of soldiers, many of them conscripts, sent to fight in Ukraine. There have been numerous reports of conscripts being told that if they don’t sign a contract, allowing them to be sent to Ukraine, the commander will sign it for them.
The organizer of a facebook page entitled Cargo 200: From Ukraine to Russia, Yelena Vasilyeva told Radio Svoboda that that 700 Russian soldiers were “definitely” killed on the day of Russia’s invasion, with around 1.5 thousand since then.
Vasilyeva’s estimates are, however, based on people writing in to a facebook page, and none of the major NGOs or TV Dozhd which is carrying out its own investigation have reported such figures.
How many Russian mercenaries have been killed is probably impossible to know. How many of those up till now assumed to be free agents coming to fight in return for payment are in fact currently serving soldiers is also unclear. The Presidential Human Rights Council has demanded information about the death of 9 soldiers, most from Dagestan, killed much earlier in August. It appears likely that many of those men from Dagestan, Chechnya and Ossetiya whose involvement in the fighting has been widely reported since the weekend of the presidential elections in late May were serving in the Russian military.