Kremlin washes hands of captured Russian special forces soldiers, calls them ‘mercenaries’

14:34, 29 May 2015
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Russia has denied that its special operations soldiers Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeniy Yerofeev, who were captured while on a mission in Ukraine on May 16, are active duty Russian servicemen, and called them "mercenaries" and "LNR policemen."

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Russia’s official position on its soldiers was announced by consul Alexei Gruby at a meeting with the Russian soldiers' lawyers - Konstantin Kravchuk and Oksana Sokolovskaya, Ukrainian news broadcaster TSN reported on Friday.

According to Alexandrov’s defense lawyer, a meeting with the consul took place on May 28.

"According to Gruby, Russia's official position today is that these servicemen, whose contract [with the Russian Armed Forces] expired in December 2014, are mercenaries and have nothing to do with the army," Kravchuk said, according to the TSN.

The consul said that Russia had done everything possible to prevent the movement of "mercenaries" beyond the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, as this is harmful to the image of Russia, according to the diplomat.

In addition, Gruby said that he would visit Alexandrov and Yerofeev in the hospital and try to arrange communications with their families. The consul even promised to arrange for the possible visit of their relatives to Kyiv to make sure that the prisoners have not suffered any pressure or mistreatment.

The Russian detainees are reported to be outraged by the Kremlin’s official position in calling them "mercenaries" and "LNR police," which they say is untrue.

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