August 16, 2022

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Russian mothers struggle to find out where their sons have gone

Russian mothers struggle to find out where their sons have gone

Five months have passed since Vladimir Putin sent his troops to Ukraine. Five months since 19-year-old Kirill Chistayakov crossed the border with his squad, and four months since he last had contact with his mother.

Soldier: Kirill, 19, has been missing since March. The mother asks for answers from the Russian authorities. Photo: Sky News.

No one knows how many Russian soldiers have been killed or captured in Ukraine. Often families at home do not know anything about the fate of their loved ones.

– The families were not told the location of the disappearance or the circumstances surrounding the disappearance, says Valentina Melnikova, who runs a support organization for mothers of Russian soldiers, Sky News in Moscow.

The Russian authorities do not want to draw attention to the numbers of victims and bereaved families. She can influence public opinion about what they call in Russia a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

– Nobody hears us

Kirill’s mother, Irina Chistayakova (44 years old), was warned against making her story public. Not without risk, and she is careful not to criticize official policy. But she’s so desperate that she doesn’t feel like she has more to lose.

– Nobody hears us and nobody will listen to us, she told Sky News.

– I can’t take it any more. I am 44 years old and already like an old woman, crying.

The son disappeared four months ago. It displays the image of the smiling 19-year-old. She is angry at the authorities who have sent her son to a war about which he knows nothing.

– Why was my son there? She says he was drafted and spent three months in the army.

He wanted to defend Russia

The mother does not know if her son signed a contract with the army before he left. Many young boys sign up from poor areas of the country because it is the only way to earn money.

– He wanted to become a soldier because he wanted to defend his homeland. Now it seems that they were sent to make the Donetsk and Luhansk states independent.

– My son was missing in the Kharkiv region, tell me why he was there? Hiccup Irina.

An anonymous woman interviewed by Sky News said these contracts should be illegal because young boys have no idea what they are going to get. She herself is convinced that her 20-year-old son was killed.

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Irina traveled to Moscow with many women who had not heard of their sons or husbands since they left for Ukraine. They must hand over a list of names to the authorities and demand an answer.

Until now, they were unable to confirm whether the sons had been killed in battle, or whether they had been captured. The name does not appear in any public listings.

The hope is that their loved ones are still alive, but in captivity in Ukraine. If so, they can be entered into the lists of soldiers to be exchanged in the prisoner exchange.

– Ask me to come to Ukraine. Let me cross the concentration camps to find my son. Then I’ll calm down, says Irina.

– Send straight forward

According to the newspaper Moscow Times Young Russians are sent to the front in Ukraine after only a week or two of training.

Citizen Army Law informs the organization Newspaper They regularly receive letters from parents who say their children ended up in the front line in Ukraine just one week after their enlistment.

A 31-year-old Russian, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he received only five days of training before being transferred to Ukraine and deployed to fight against Ukrainian government soldiers.

– There was a soldier in our company who did not know how the machine gun worked. So I taught him to take it apart and put it back together again. I will not be by his side in battle. How can you fight like that? He tells the Moscow Times.

More than 15,000 dead

The intelligence services of the United States and Great Britain estimate that more than 15,000 Russian soldiers were killed in Ukraine, and claim that this is a conservative estimate. In addition, the number of wounded may be three times higher, and many of them are taken as prisoners of war.

The Russian authorities have not announced the death toll since March. Then they acknowledged the killing of 1,351 Russian soldiers.

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