Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Some Russian Soldiers Now Being Asked Whether They’re Prepared to Shoot at Protesters, Navalny Staff Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 21 – The first line of defense of any state against domestic protests consists of the police; the second of the army. The Putin regime has been building up the former in various ways ( Now, there is a report the Kremlin is ensuring that it will be able to use the latter.

            The Tyumen office of the opposition Navalny organization has released a video in which an anonymous spetsnaz soldier says that he and others in his unit were recently asked by “people from Moscow”  whether they were prepared to shoot at Russian protesters ( as summarized at

            According to Rusmonitor’s reading, the soldier said that “in early 2019, ‘people from Moscow’ came to his unit to carry out a survey which included questions about the political views of the military personnel.” What disturbed him and his fellow soldiers were questions as to whether they were ready to use their weapons against their fellow citizens.

            “The informer reported that he personally and also all whom he then asked categorically declared that they were not prepared to fulfill such an order. He even stressed that such a question by itself shocked him and his fellow soldiers” because they had never been confronted with such a question before. 

            The spetsnaz soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that in his view, “the powers that be understand” where things are heading “and therefore what to know whether the army will be on their side when something begins.”

            On the one hand, it is far from clear whether this kind of question is being asked more widely than just the special forces which in fact have been deployed by the regime against domestic opponents in the past. But on the other, to ask such a question is to answer it in a way: apparently at least some in Moscow are worried about the loyalty of the military. 

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