Moscow censorship of those killed at the front: zero news and banned funerals

The families of the young military men are given this standard answer: “Engaged in operations outside the place of normal displacement.” And the numbers provided on Russian deaths are at least 10 times lower than Western estimates

The very serious losses of the Red Army in Afghanistan and the fact that relatives were not even allowed to mourn children who returned home in zinc coffins contributed greatly to the undoing of the Soviet regime in the late 1980s. And now, again, the Kremlin has decided to consider any information on those killed in that war a “state secret” that war is not and is euphemistically cataloged as a “Special Military Operation”.

The mothers of young men in military service sent to fight cannot get any news about their children. “Engaged in operations outside the place of normal displacement”, is the standard answer. Then maybe some charitable soul from Ukraine brings the identity document found in the pocket of a soldier lying in the snow to Russia. Zero news, zero funeral. It is not even allowed to hold funeral ceremonies even in the absence of the body of the fallen. All confidential, like the number of casualties suffered by the army that entered Ukraine on 24 February. Official sources have so far only spoken of 498 dead. According to the latest Western estimates, however, the Russians who died in action would now be several thousand, maybe six or seven thousand. In the past, news relating to war activities was covered by a state secret. But it is from the Second World War that the USSR and Russia are not officially at war because all armed interventions were labeled simply as “operations” of some kind.

Like this in 2015 Putin changed the rules after using military personnel without official identification marks in Crimea and in support of the independence supporters of Donbass. One of his decrees of May 28 of that year establishes that even the news on military casualties in peacetime, “While special operations are in progress” cannot be made public. Just like in war.

The measure was challenged by a group of 29 journalists and human rights defenders but the Supreme Court agreed with the Kremlin. End of the story. Even the conflict in Afghanistan which cost the USSR between 13,825 (official figure) and 50,000 (estimates by post-Soviet researchers) dead was another matter. The name used was “Sending a limited contingent of Soviet troops to Afghanistan to help the friendly Afghan people.” I «zinc boys “, as the book on the subject of the Nobel Prize for Literature Svetlana Aleksievich states, they returned to their coffins of that material and were buried in secret. The head of the KGB Andropov told the Politburò in 1981: “We must honor them but it is premature to erect tombstones.”

The two wars in Chechnya were also a massacre for conscripts. And they were not labeled as wars: the first was baptized “Operation to restore constitutional order in Chechnya”, and lasted from 1994 to 1996. The second was simply called “Anti-terrorist operation” and took place between 1999 and 2000 under the leadership of Putin, first as head of government and then as president. Eleven thousand official deaths.

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