Monday, October 10, 2016

‘You Bet Your Life’ Takes on a Whole New Meaning in Russian-Occupied Donbass

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 10 – Facing ever more difficulties in recruiting soldiers, the leaders of pro-Moscow forces in the Donbass are now using a remarkable technique: They’ve organized an underground casino where those who lose are compelled to pay off their debts by serving in the militia to fight Ukraine.

            Elena Gitlyanskaya, a press spokesman for Ukraine’s security service, tells Kyiv’s “Segodnya” newspaper that Ukrainian soldiers discovered this underground casino in Svetlodarsk, a settlement not far from Gorlovka, which is occupied by pro-Moscow forces (

            She says that “the underground operation, situated in an apartment there, used local criminals to achieve its goals.  According to preliminary information, they were supporters of the illegal [pro-Moscow] military formations,” and they worked by enticing “alcoholic and drug addicted” residents “by promising easy money.”

            When these visitors lost money and often very small amounts, Gitlyanskaya continues, they were given a choice: serve in the pro-Moscow forces and fight Ukraine or risk being beaten or worse by the criminals.  Those who “agreed” to this form of “military slavery” were then dispatched to Gorlovka to join the Russian forces there.

            The SBU spokesperson adds that this form of “’military slavery’ via roulette” is “far from the only method which members of the self-proclaimed republics are using” to try to fill their ranks. She says there are reports that these units are now recruiting drug addicts by promising them that they will get their drugs if they serve in these militias.

            Gitlyanskaya stresses that “such phenomena are not massive,” but they are occurring and say much about the nature of the pro-Russian forces and their increasing inability to recruit local people to fight for them.

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