Russian troops desert army over Ukraine conflict - Al Jazeera
Some Russian soldiers are deserting the army because of the conflict in Ukraine. Their stories contradict the Kremlin's assertion that no government soldiers have been sent there, according to a journalist investigation by Al Jazeera.
Reporters talked to the channel as a contract of the Russian Armed Forces Alexander, whose military base is located in the city of Maikop in Russia's Adygeya region. The soldier says that he faces 10 years in prison for desertion because of refusal to participate in military operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, according to Al Jazeera.
"We were told, if you want to leave, pay your commanders," said the military.
At the same time, journalists say that this is not an isolated case. In Maikop, similar charges were pushed against at least five other soldiers. The troops left their military bases after receiving an order on deployment to border with Ukraine. The statistics are murky, and the real figure runs to at least 60 cases, or even more, when soldiers fled the army fearing possibility of being sent to the war in Donbas.
The military said that those who had returned alive from Donbas, were intimidated. They were threatened with 13 years in prison if they did not take their words back.
Lawyer Tatyana Chernetskaya, dismissed by Russian media as spreader of rumors, said that military are forced to keep silent, they are thrown in jail.
For the first one to speak up was soldier Pavel Timchenko, who was thrown behind bars. They forced him to testify against himself and admit his guilt. "He is out now, but he's a completely broken man," said Chernetskaya, "Naturally, the other guys are afraid," says Chernetskaya.
The Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation said it had no comment on the issue at the moment.