Are Russian troops dying in East Ukraine?

Published by carolyn on Fri, 2014-08-29 13:22

Freshly dug grave is seen at the Vybuty cemetery in the Pskov region, Russia. Photograph: Reuters

From the Guardian:

In early spring, Russian president Vladimir Putin deployed soldiers without insignia into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea to ensure a quick annexation of the territory.

After a month of denying their existence, the Russian president acknowledged that the thousands of well-armed fighters, who had previously been referred to as “little green men”, were in fact Russian troops.

Now, in Eastern Ukraine, Russian troops have been deployed for quite awhile, secretly, and some have died. Evidence for this comes from various locations throughout Russia. In Kostroma, 1,300km from Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine, family members of a group of 10 Russian paratroopers captured in Ukraine say all their information has come from secondhand, online sources.

  • One mother, Olga Pochtoyeva, says when she approached officials with photos on the social media site Vkontakte that appeared to show her son had been taken prisoner in Ukraine, her claims were dismissed as “provocations.”

    “We showed them [these pictures] and they didn’t believe it,” she says. “It’s Photoshop, they told us. I’m sorry, I’d never mistake my son’s eyebrows for Photoshop.”

  • Members of Russia’s presidential council on human rights have asked for an investigation into the deaths of nine military contractors
  • The Stavropol Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers has compiled a list of 400 Russian troops it says have recently been either killed or wounded.

The claims come amid evidence of secret funerals for Russian servicemen, reports of which began with small drips of information from Pskov, a small city in northern Russia.

  • On 25 August families buried Leonid Kichatkin and Aleksandr Osipov, two Russian paratroopers from a regiment based in the city. Some of the brigade’s gear and documents had been spotted by Ukrainian journalists days earlier in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.

    State media did not cover the funerals and independent reporters who had come to inspect the paratroopers’ gravestones were accosted by unidentified men.

    “It was more like a threat than any sort of demand,” Ilya Vasyunin, a journalist for the online Russian Planet news site, told RFE/RL’s Russian Service. “They wanted to make sure we understood that there was no need to visit the cemetery or dig any deeper into the situation.”

    The names on the gravestones, which showed the dates of death as 19 and 20 August, have since reportedly been removed.

There has been a near complete blackout in coverage of the funerals by Russia’s state-controlled media and a message on Kichatkin’s VKontakte page saying that the serviceman had been killed, apparently written by his wife, has been removed. The families have since been unwilling to speak with media.

Meanwhile, reports of new funerals continue.

  • On 25 August, Anton Korolenko, a commander – apparently from the same Pskov-based paratrooper division – was buried in Voronezh. A local journalist told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that an unidentified family member had claimed the circumstances behind his death were “secret” but that “he did not die in vain”.
  • in Russia’s Urals republic of Bashkortostan, the mother of Marsel Arattanov told the independent Dozhd TV station that she had buried her son on 22 August after being ordered by the authorities to claim his body in Rostov, a Russian city near the border with Ukraine. “He was not on our territory when he died,” Venera Arattanova said. “We have heard that they went to Ukrainian territory.”
  •  “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Ella Polyakova, a member of Putin’s advisory council on human rights, who so far has been unsuccessful in using official channels to gather information. “People are demanding answers – where are their sons?”

For further info and updates, see here:

Politician beaten after reporting on funerals:

Body bags going from Ukraine to Russia (Sept. 3)




Valentina Melnikova, who leads the [respected and influential -cy] Soldiers’ Mothers Committee, told the Daily Beast she was “personally humiliated as a citizen of the Russian Federation by our commander-in-chief’s pure, direct crime.” She said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “violating not only international laws, not only the Geneva Convention, [he] also is breaking Russian Federation law about defense. And as for the [Russian airborne commander], we should be too disgusted to even mention his name. He forces his servicemen to fight in a foreign state, Ukraine, illegally, while mothers receive coffins with their sons, anonymously.”

Another rights activist said he got a call from a Russian mother. The woman said her son’s remains were dropped off at her house last week. The accompanying documents said he had died of wounds — but there was no mention of where he died. “She called other soldiers who served with her son,” Sergei Krivenko, of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council, told USA Today. “These aren’t just civilians, but people who are following [military] orders. That is why we asked that these deaths be investigated.”

That battle in which the woman’s son died may have occurred on Aug. 13. It was an eastern Ukraine skirmish that Reuters reported claimed the lives of more than 100 Russian soldiers. Despite the high death count, news of the fight broke Thursday — more than two weeks later.

The Russian Human Rights Council told Reuters the bodies were found without documentation proving they had been in Ukraine and with death certificates saying they had died elsewhere. “The soldiers serving on contract [meaning draftees, I think -cy]  are given an order, and the columns go across Russia and they stop at a camp, as though part of a training exercise, on the border with Ukraine,” a council spokesman told the news agency. “They take off all the [identification] numbers or blotch them out.”

Other soldiers, however, possibly had more than just a number obscured. Numerous reporters, from the BBC to Reuters to local Russian journalists, have investigated what appear to be freshly dug, unmarked graves possibly holding the bodies of several Russian paratroopers who were killed last week in Ukraine. Reuters reported that all online accounts of the men who were buried there have been removed from the Internet, as have photos of the soldiers that their families placed on their graves. When Russian journalists traveled there, the BBC reported that men told them they would “never be found” unless they left.

“The [Russian] government is disavowing soldiers who are” in Ukraine, soldier activist Valentina Melnikova told USA Today. She estimated that as many as 15,000 Russian soldiers have crossed into Ukraine.

So the majority of the citizens of a section of eastern Ukraine identify with Russia.  And Russia wants to help them get what they want.  So what.  Any worse than the whole western world supporting Kosovo's desire for independence from Serbia and becoming a state of its own?  Two entities had a claim on Kosovo and "we" interfered on behalf of one of them.  Now Russia has made a choice, too, as regards a portion of Ukraine. 
Countries are reconstituting themselves all the time.

"And Russia wants to help them get what they want."

What do they want? They say they are ethnic Russians and want to be recognized as such. But their "Russianness" or speaking the Russian language was never interfered with. What they don't like is Ukraine wanting to join the EU. And that comes from Moscow, directly. The separatists have been supported and directed from Moscow all along.

The people of Eastern Ukraine are at most 50% ethnic Russian, or less. The rest are ethnic Ukrainian. It is only Crimea that was large majority Russian. But these rebels are speaking for everyone - speaking with guns and tanks.

If they are just doing the same as the globalist powers did in other parts of the world, then Putin's Russia is no different than the globalist powers. Not much to be "for." I am not "for" either one, but against both. There are some genuine nationalists in Ukraine and also in surrounding countries. Bah on Putin - he needs to be exposed.

In the last news story I just posted (body bags), the father says of his son Nikolai, who lost one or both legs:

"He swore an oath and fulfilled his orders honestly," Vsevolod Kozlov said on Moscow Echo radio. "No matter what he did, he is right."

This tells us for sure that he was acting under orders to go into Ukraine; he was not a "volunteer, vacationing serviceman."