Article by: Maksim Solopov
UK television channel Sky News canceled the airing of a report on the deaths of three Russian special forces soldiers due to the decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin that has made a state secret of any information on casualties suffered by Russian forces during “special operations.”
The report about the death of three soldiers of the 16th separate special forces brigade, stationed in Tambov, was supposed to be aired by Sky News on May 28, but after the publication of the presidential decree to classify data on losses of the military in peacetime, the broadcasting of the investigative report was postponed, two sources close to the film crew working on the report told RBK.
The Sky News team visited Tatarstan, Tambov and Chelyabinsk regions, where they were able to talk with relatives, co-workers and fellow villagers of Russian commandos allegedly killed in Ukraine – Timur Mamayusupov, Anton Savelyev and Ivan Kardapolov.
According to RBK’s sources, the British journalists managed to gain an interview with the mother of one of the soldiers, in which she confirmed that her son had been a serving soldier. She said she had received a document from the army stating that her son had been killed during a counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus
The relatives of the other soldiers flatly refused to talk, and even showed aggression to the reporters. At the same time fellow villagers of the other soldiers said that they had been killed in Ukraine.
Bloggers published a report on their investigation into the deaths of Mamayusupov, Savelyev and Kardapolov on May 21. Using data from social networks, the bloggers, Vadim Korovin and Ruslan Leviev, found the graves of the three, who they said were serving soldiers in the 16th Special Forces Brigade, and who were killed in Ukraine on May 5 this year.
The bloggers photographed wreaths from Russia’s Ministry of Defense on the soldiers’ graves, and gathered a lot of circumstantial evidence to confirm that all three died during fighting in Ukraine. In particular, they published pictures of the soldiers on armored vehicles in the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Luhansk in Ukraine.
Sky News correspondent Katie Stallard did not respond to a letter from RBK with questions about the report on the dead soldiers. According to RBK sources close to Sky News, its journalists are continuing to consult with their lawyers, but have decided nevertheless to air the report this week.
The Russian bureau of Sky News refused to comment on this report.