Staunton, May 15 – Activists in region after region of the Russian Federation are compiling lists of the deaths of local men in the Ukrainian fighting, actions that taken together constitute “an anti-war manifesto,” according to the Seven by Seven news agency which reports on developments outside of Moscow.
In Belgorod Oblast, for example, this list now includes 330 dead over the last 14 months, almost three times as many as died during the decade of the Soviet war in Afghanistan (medium.com/@noparm95/сколько-белгородцев-погибло-в-украине-ed8a88ad7f30). Other regions have similar results (semnasem.org/articles/2023/05/15/antivoennyj-manifest-kak-i-zachem-zhiteli-regionov-sobirayut-spiski-ubityh-v-ukraine-zemlyakov).
Given that Moscow has been extremely chary in releasing any numbers concerning losses, these efforts can’t be entirely pleasing to the authorities and in fact constitute in and of themselves a kind of protest against what Moscow is doing and how much it is costing Russians in the regions, the news agency’s editors say.
These reports must be all the more alarming to the powers that be because activists have had to organize into groups to visit cemeteries and funeral homes to come up with the numbers and because the numbers themselves are leading ever more Russians to ask why such losses are needed and who is to blame.
One of the pioneers in this growing movement is the journalistic fraternity of Irkutsk’s Lyudi Baikala publication. They began to collect figures on combat losses less than a month after Putin began his expanded invasion of Ukraine and have kept it up since that time (baikal-journal.ru/2022/03/23/voennye-pogibshie-v-ukraine/).
Some groups began only after the partial mobilization was announced in September 2022. Among them was the Omsk Civic Union which began collecting names of the dead at that time. As of May, there were 343 local men on these documents. People are asking “why” and they aren’t getting answers (omgo.org/zachem).
Among the most active of these groups are those in non-Russian regions who suspect that their young men are being targeted for use as cannon fodder so that Moscow won’t face Russian protests. And among these groups, the Udmurts of the Middle Volga are especially prominent (udmprotiv.ru/spisok).