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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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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