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Russia's 'Secret War' in Ukraine Technically Legal

Published: September 2, 2014 (Issue # 1826)



  • Satellite imagery from NATO released on Aug. 28 purportedly shows Russian combat troops inside Ukraine.
    Photo: NATO

The secrecy shrouding a group of Russian paratroopers allegedly deployed to Ukraine has caused an outcry among the liberal media and immeasurable worry to troops' relatives — but it appears that Russian authorities are legally entitled to remain tight-lipped.

Not even in the case of "cargo 200" — as dead servicemen shipped home are referred to in Russia, based on the standard weight of a coffin — is the military under legal obligation to disclose the location or circumstances of soldiers' deaths.

Deploying servicemen to a war zone without warning or explanation does not constitute a violation of their rights either, soldiers' rights activists and veterans told The Moscow Times.

"You take your oath, and then you just go where they send you," Oleg Shvedkov, a retired submariner who heads of the All-Russian Servicemen Labor Union, said Monday.

In fact, the president is even entitled to send Russian troops abroad without parliamentary sanction, at least under domestic legislation, said Sergei Krivenko of the Citizen & Army NGO, who also is a member of the Kremlin's rights council.

Mysterious Paratroopers

Reports emerged last week that Russian reinforcements had saved the day for the embattled pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Official Kiev, NATO and the White House all spoke of what appeared to be a limited Russian deployment aiding the rebels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied it — as he did during the March annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Russian troops without insignia took control of the region at the time, but Putin only acknowledged their presence when the takeover was finished.

Soldiers' mothers, mad with worry, have swarmed their local military commissariats in recent days and petitioned Putin for explanations — so far to no avail.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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