The Daily Beast reports: A group of Russian contract soldiers have refused to go on “an assignment,” as their army command referred to it in the papers they received about their secret deployment. The document did not have any return date. To their astonishment, the soldiers learned, nearly at the last minute, the country for their final destination was Syria. The scandalous case is now being investigated. The soldiers were threatened with severe punishment for their disobedience—a charge of state treason, their lawyer Ivan Pavlov told The Daily Beast, punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Russia.
“All the soldiers are asking for was a clear official order, so their widows would be paid compensations if they get killed abroad. Soldiers have a right to demand proper paperwork, they should always do that before they depart, otherwise their families would not receive a ruble,” Valentina Melnikova, head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, a Russian organization representing the troops’ families, told The Daily Beast.
But instead of providing the contract soldiers with the official paperwork, the army command reported them to investigators, according to the lawyer. Russian authorities have confirmed they provide weapons and military advisers to the Syrian government, as Moscow has for years, but deny Russian soldiers are being deployed into combat in Syria. [Continue reading…]