Friday, August 29, 2014

What does Russia tell the mothers of soldiers killed in Ukraine? Not much.

By Terrence McCoy August 29 at 3:46 AM WashPost

They are the nameless ones. The faceless ones. Called the “men in green,” they are a group of hundreds, if not thousands, of Russians fighting in Ukraine with neither identifying insignia nor official documents — soldiers in everything but name. Instead, they’re called “volunteers.” They’re called “vacationers. “They’re “blood brothers,” as rebel leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko described the Russians crossing the border to fight alongside him.

But such anonymity, which helps Moscow pretend that no Russian soldier fights in Ukraine, comes at a high cost. Rights groups, activists and local journalists now allege that Russia, already burdened with a dark history of soldier abuse, has suppressed the truth of its own killed soldiers, obfuscated details of their demise and buried some of the dead in unmarked graves to hide their role in Ukraine. And Russia’s response if its soldiers are caught: They’re wanderers who “accidentally” crossed the border.

Valentina Melnikova, who leads the 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.”

(More here.)

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