By Elena Vasilieva (politician and ecologist)
Today [August 26] is the day of mourning in Pskov. The authorities try to explain to the local population that a few paratroopers from the Pskov Airborne Division blew themselves up on a mine during the exercises held at the polygon located under Pskov. The rumors circulating vary: 10 men [killed], 15 men. Shoygu [Russian Defense Minister] has hastily taken off to Pskov. At the same time, on the 18th of August, the President of Russia is awarding the paratroopers with an Order of Suvorov, in accordance with the decree N 571 “Concerning the reward of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division.”
The Order of Suvorov is exclusively awarded for service in battle. Hence, it is impossible to receive such an order in peaceful times, only if you are taking part in some sort of combat operations. The grounds for receiving such an order are the following: 1. For skillful organization of [military] operations and management of force groups (troops), formations and military units, that despite the stubborn resistance of the enemy, its superiority in numbers, advanced technical equipment, and a more favorable location in the theater of operation, has managed to fulfill the goals of the operation, retain the most important regions on its territory (the territories of allied states), create conditions for seizing the initiative and conducting subsequent operations with offensive objectives. 2. For a skillful organization of and management of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation formations, when conducting activities bearing a character of strategic deterrence, ensuring that aggression and escalation of the armed conflict against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies would not take place.
As a matter of fact, the decree N 571 issued by the President of Russian Federation as of 18.08.2014, “Concerning the reward of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division,” is an official documentary confirmation of the fact that Russian armed forces have unleashed and are waging war against Ukraine on its territory.
… The majority of the Pskov citizens, together with the citizens of other towns, refuse to even consider that it wasn’t solely one company of Airborne troops that has perished in the Luhansk Oblast (Ukraine). Propaganda has been so extreme that it brainwashed the Russians into believing that Ukraine no longer exists. They are certain that the country is broken, destroyed by the mythical “Ukrs” [Russian slur for Ukrainians] with the help of the Americans and NATO. They are absolutely sincere when thanking Putin for not bringing in [Russian] troops and saving thousands of innocent [civilian] lives and Russian soldiers.
And all of this is happening while Ukrainian people in all possible social networks try to convince the Russians to take away the corpses of Russian mercenaries and conscript-soldiers. Ukraine is ready to deliver the corpses to their relatives free of charge. Not for the purpose of mocking somebody but because Ukrainians haven’t lost their sense of humanity! They are entirely baffled as to how the Russians can reject their “heroes” and let them be buried like stray dogs.
At the same time, Russian propaganda assures that Russia carried no losses in this conflict, and deceived Russians start arguing and insisting that it’s a fake in those very same social networks. And all of a sudden, “the corpses of paratroopers were transported to Pskov on KAMAZ trucks,” appears in the news. Naturally, the information starts to leak into all social networks, despite attempts from the special services to wipe out these kinds of reports. Now the wives and the loved ones of those who have been secretly brought back to their motherland started breaching the information vacuum. A bit earlier, an open Facebook group was created under the name of “Cargo-200 from Ukraine to Russia,” where people gather all available articles about the draftees and contract soldiers who died in Ukraine.
Ukrainians try to spread advice to the mothers, wives, sisters [of the Russian soldiers] in Russia, asking them to contact the missing men from their families, who haven’t been in touch for a long time, as it could be that they are no longer alive! However, in response, they only come across aggressive cries: it’s all lies. And Ukrainians then have to dig up the trenches, and bury the bodies of the deceased mercenaries in common graves. It is also difficult to identify them, as at best you would only get around to knowing the mercenary’s nom de guerrre. It is very rare that those killed have documents on them. The Morgues in Rostov on Don are filled with corpses, and those in charge of these services feel utterly helpless. The only advice that you could give to the relatives seeking their missing sons, fathers and brothers, is to get through to the morgue in Rostov on Don, and then send requests to the Security Service of Ukraine and to the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia.