Interview with the mother of a paratrooper from the Pskov Division – his fate is still not clear
Recently, Russian journalists and observers have been talking about what happened to Pskov paratroopers who allegedly disappeared in Ukraine. Some are reporting on the death of an entire group of paratroopers; photographs of fresh graves in Pskov have appeared on the Internet. Ukraine reports that Russian soldiers from an Airborne Division have been captured. The Russian Defense Ministry has not officially confirmed the participation of Russian troops in operations in Ukraine. Saratov teacher, Lyubov Maximova, is the mother of a paratrooper from the Pskov Division, Ilya Maksimov, whose documents were found by Ukrainian soldiers in the Russian BMD-2 that they seized on August 21. She spoke to Znak.com about the circumstances of her son’s disappearance.
– Tell us about your son.
– My boy is 20 years old; he’s tall, athletic and loves skydiving. He joined the army when he was 18; he served his time and then realized that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in the army – well, he needed to channel his energy somewhere. He enlisted in an elite army corps – the Airborne Division – and was sent to serve in Pskov. The contract was signed in February 2014. On May 9, he took part in the parade on Red Square. He was happy in the army; he called me often and said a lot of good things. He praised his commanders; he said that he was lucky to be there as an ordinary soldier…
– When did you lose touch with him?
– On August 15… we spoke to him on the phone; he called his sister on the 16th, he sent a text message on the 17th saying that he was OK. Since then – nothing … And then I saw the photos of his documents on the Internet.
– The documents… are they really his? Not fake?
– No, they’re his – his military registration certificate and driver’s license. They’re not fake.
– Have you tried to contact his comrades or the commander?
– I don’t know any of his army friends. I called military HQ and talked a few days ago with their political officer. He said that all the boys were taking part in military exercises, a place where there’s no communication. I asked how long the exercises would last; he replied 2-3 weeks.
– Did you try to get in touch with Ukrainian authorities when you saw the photos?
– Was there any reply or reaction from the Ministry of Defense?
– Nothing yet … I hope I’ll hear something now. I addressed the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers and the draft board. What else can I do?
– You know your son better than anyone. Could it be possible that he went to the Donbas as a volunteer?
– Never. My boy doesn’t like conflicts. You know, he’s the type that wouldn’t “hurt a fly”, as they say. At school, he respected his peers, younger kids and the teachers; he didn’t get into fights and he wasn’t aggressive. He never would’ve volunteered to go to the Donbas, or to any other place… only if he was ordered.
– What would you like to say now to Russian and Ukrainian authorities?
– I’ll say this to the Russian authorities: dear and good people, you who are up there in charge, help me find my son; tell me what happened to him!
To the Ukrainian authorities I will say this: dear Ukraine, I’m sorry if my son did something wrong; he’s a soldier; he wouldn’t do anything on his own. Forgive him, forgive me, we’ve never thought badly of Ukrainians. I’m a free and independent person, and I can truly say that Ukraine has never wronged us. I tried to teach my son only good things. Please, give me back my son…
Photo: Ilya MaksimovSource: znak.com, translated by Christine Chraibi