es Vienna, July 22, 2022
Meduza, banished along with its staff to Lavia, remains one of the best sources of information on Russia. Today it has published a remarkable inside story of how plans for the “special operation” remained Putin’s personal secret until the last minute – with no preparation for what happened next: “He doesn’t speak out, even behind closed doors.”
It also carries the story of how the Wagner Group of mercenaries, effectively Putin’s private army, is being recruited with “the ‘W’ orchestra awaits you” billboards in the regions.
Journalists at Verstka.media estimate that 1,793 “normal” soldiers from all over Russia have refused to fight in Ukraine since the start the February 2022 invasion began.
Verstka reports that more than 230 of these men are reportedly being held against their will in the town of Brianka in the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic. The soldiers are allegedly being held in basements under armed guard until they agree to join the war. Meanwhile prisons are being emptied for inmates to serve at the front.
Meduza reports that numerous soldiers from cities across Russia have been returned to base after refusing to fight. Siberian investigative journalist Mikhail Afanasiev, who has received death threats from gang leaders, is currently in jail facing felony charges for reporting one of these instances in the Republic of Khakassia.
- NYT March 31, 2022 Wagner Group causing mayhem in Africa as well as Ukraine
- Daily Beast, March 25, 2022 Legal attempts to silence Bellingcat founder foundering