Russian Airborne: I was shocked – I said it can’t be true

“When I heard that high-ranking figures were calling for me to be sentenced to 15 years in prison for lying, I realized that I would get nothing and that my lawyers in Russia would not be able to do anything for me,” Mr. Filatyev told the AFP news agency in the waiting area for asylum seekers at the Charles de Gaulle in Paris. de Gaulle Airport.

On Tuesday, word came that “Pavel Filatyev was released late in the afternoon” after receiving official permission to enter France, where he will have eight days to apply for asylum, his lawyer Kamalia Mehtiyeva told AFP.

“We are very happy with this decision and intend to submit a request for political asylum in the coming days,” added K. Mehtiyeva.

After taking a break from the military, the 34-year-old Filatyev joined the 56th Airborne Regiment, his father’s former unit, stationed in Russia-annexed Crimea last year.

The airborne troops were sent to fight in southern Ukraine when President Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” on February 24.

P. Filatyev himself spent about two months in the vicinity of the cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv before he was recalled from the front because of an eye infection.

“We had no moral right to attack another country, especially when it is the nation closest to us,” the soldier wrote in his 141-page manifesto ZOV (Russian: zov – call, invitation), which he posted on the VKontakte social network earlier in August.

The name of this manifesto is made up of the letters used to denote the Russian military equipment involved in the invasion of Ukraine.

In his statement, Mr. Filatyev criticizes both the state of the Russian military and Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, which, in his opinion, most soldiers do not support, although they are afraid to speak openly about it.

“Chaos and Corruption”

Mr. Filatiev writes about forces that function only with difficulty, whose soldiers ran out of skills and ammunition even before the invasion began.

The armed forces “are in the same state that Russia has been in for the past few years,” he told AFP.

“Year after year, chaos and corruption increased. Corruption, disorder and total carelessness have reached unacceptable levels,” the soldier added.

“For the first few months I was shocked – I told myself it couldn’t be true. At the end of the year, I realized that I don’t want to serve in such an army,” he said.

However, he did not leave the service, and when the invasion began, he was with his unit in the south of the neighboring country.

“The army was already fallen, corrupt and apathetic during peacetime, so it is clear that during the war, during combat operations, all this became even more apparent, and the lack of professionalism became even more noticeable,” P. Filatjev said.

The authorities in Moscow played a key role in “destroying the military that we inherited from the Soviet Union,” the paratrooper said.

Mr. Filatyev said that during his two months of service at the front, his unit did not contribute to the atrocities against civilians and prisoners that have sparked global outrage and accusations of war crimes.

“Terrorized Soldiers”

When he was transferred to a military hospital in the city of Sevastopol, he tried to officially leave the army for health reasons, but was threatened by his superiors with an investigation if he did not agree to return to the combat zone.

Mr. Filatyev left Crimea in early August and published his manifesto.

He moved from one city to another to avoid capture and finally arrived in France via Tunisia last week.

“Why am I going into detail about this?” I want people in Russia and the world to know how this war started, why people are still fighting,” he said.

Russian soldiers continue fighting “not because they want to fight, but because of the conditions that make it very difficult for them to leave”, P. Filatyev believes.

“The army, like the entire Russian society, is being terrorized,” he claimed.

According to Mr. Filatjev, only about 10 percent support the war. soldiers, while others are simply afraid to speak up.

“Those who are against are afraid to talk about it, afraid to leave. They fear the consequences,” explained the soldier.

Mr. Filatjev said that if he receives asylum in France, he wants to continue his efforts to end this war.

“I want as few Russian youth as possible to get there and get involved; I want them to know what’s going on there,” he explained.

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