Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spetsnaz Troops Said They’re Ready to Shoot Protesters But Only Out of Fear of Reprisals, Moscow Media Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 22 – A day after the Navalny organization reported that some Russian spetsnaz troops say they won’t obey orders to shoot demonstrators who threaten the regime (, Moscow media outlets are reporting that these forces are fully prepared to take such action.

            But the reports show that the situation is not quite as the powers that be at the center would like. According to soldiers, they said that they declared their readiness to shoot protesters because the survey wasn’t anonymous and they didn’t want trouble (

            According to the spetsnaz soldier who gave his name to Znak, “he and all 1110 men in his unit responded unanimously” to the January survey that “they do not support any of the opposition politicians (ten possibilities were listed in the survey) and were prepared if the order was given to open fire on the protesters.”

            There was no other choice, the soldier said. “The survey wasn’t anonymous.” We had to write out names. “All answers as the powers that be in the structure would want them to because what sense was there to response otherwise, to give one’s opinion” if negative and targeted consequences would certainly follow.

            That is why he says he sent information about this to the Navalny staffs in various cities. “That was the only place it was possible to go,” he suggests. 

            Mstislav Pismenkov of the Znak news agency says that the Russian defense ministry had called the Navalny report “’a primitive falsification.’” But he notes that the ministry did not respond to his inquiry as to whether commanders had in fact conducted the survey of troops that the Navalny organization reported.

            There is now little doubt that such a survey occurred and that the soldiers gave the response that is being reported (, but there is also no doubt that they did so not out of conviction but out of fear of punishment. 

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