Russian soldiers' angry mothers accuse Kremlin of 'using' their children


The mothers of Russian soldiers marched into Ukraine have accused the Kremlin of using their sons as cannon fodder after a regional governor let it slip they’d been sent unprepared into battle.

Footage has emerged of the moment Sergey Tsivilev, governor of the Kuzbass region in Siberia, appeared to accidentally reveal to a crowd of angry mothers their sons had been sent to the frontlines to die.

Standing awkwardly at a makeshift dias in what appears to be a school sports hall, Tsivilev was explaining to the crowd that their young sons were fighting in Ukraine, when he uttered the phrase: ‘They were used…’

After a moment of stunned silence, the women began to cry out: ‘Used?! They used our children?!’

A stuttering Tsivilev attempts to explain his way out of the sticky situation and tells the crowd ‘you can’t draw any conclusions or criticise an ongoing ”military operation”, but the mothers shout him down.

It comes as Russian losses in Ukraine continue to mount in the thousands after eleven days of bitter fighting, with the Kremlin’s ground forces largely stalled by Ukrainian defences.

Meanwhile, several examples of footage circulated widely on social media in recent days have shown captured Russian soldiers, many of them extremely young, insisting they didn’t know they were being sent to war.

Standing awkwardly at a makeshift dias in what appears to be a school sports hall, Tsivilev was explaining to the crowd that their young sons were fighting in Ukraine, when he uttered the phrase: 'They were used...'

Standing awkwardly at a makeshift dias in what appears to be a school sports hall, Tsivilev was explaining to the crowd that their young sons were fighting in Ukraine, when he uttered the phrase: ‘They were used…’

The video concludes with the regional governor attempting to soothe the mothers' remonstrations by telling them that the operation will soon end. But he is quickly met with an angry outburst from one woman, who yells in response: 'When they're all killed!'

The video concludes with the regional governor attempting to soothe the mothers’ remonstrations by telling them that the operation will soon end. But he is quickly met with an angry outburst from one woman, who yells in response: ‘When they’re all killed!’

Meanwhile in Ukraine, authorities have begun holding interviews and press conferences with captured Russian soldiers (pictured), and the defence ministry appealed to Russian mothers to come to Kyiv to collect their children

Meanwhile in Ukraine, authorities have begun holding interviews and press conferences with captured Russian soldiers (pictured), and the defence ministry appealed to Russian mothers to come to Kyiv to collect their children 

A Russian prisoner is pictured crying over the death and destruction wrought by the war, saying: 'They don't even pick up the corpses, there are no funerals'

A Russian prisoner is pictured crying over the death and destruction wrought by the war, saying: ‘They don’t even pick up the corpses, there are no funerals’

Earlier in the meeting, the soldiers’ mothers had taken Tsivilev to task after he told them he could not comment on an ongoing ‘military operation’.

‘We were all deceived, all deceived. They were sent there as cannon fodder,’ one woman shouted. 

‘They are young. They were unprepared!’ 

The video concludes with the regional governor attempting to soothe the mothers’ remonstrations by telling them that the operation will soon end.

But he is quickly met with an angry outburst from one woman, who yells in response: ‘When they’re all killed!’ 

Although Russian media is heavily censored and policed by the state, Russian mothers are beginning to learn of the atrocities their sons have committed in their neighbouring country – and are forced to confront the reality that many of them may never return.

The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia (CSMR) – an NGO set up in 1989 to expose human rights violations in the then Soviet military – has been contacting women to provide details of their sons’ predicaments.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, authorities have begun holding interviews and press conferences with captured Russian soldiers, and the defence ministry appealed to Russian mothers to come to Kyiv to collect their children. 

Though some Russian prisoners of war have been harshly questioned by their captors and treated roughly, many more have been well looked after, offered hot food and drink, and even permitted to call their families.

Several of the soldiers have been filmed telling their parents that they did not know they were being sent to war and imploring their family members to spread the truth about their predicament. 

Harrowing footage shows the soldier captured in Ukraine desperately begging his mother to spread word of the truth back home

He rocks back and forth in his chair while speaking on a video call to his mother telling her she needs to use social media so 'as many people as possible' can know the truth about Putin's attacks

Harrowing footage shows the soldier captured in Ukraine desperately begging his mother to spread word of the truth back home. He rocks back and forth in his chair while speaking on a video call to his mother telling her she needs to use social media so ‘as many people as possible’ can know the truth about Putin’s attacks

Though more members of the Russian public are discovering the reality of Putin’s so-called ‘special military operation’ across the border, dissent and disapproval of the war effort has been met with ruthless crackdowns. 

More than 3,500 people in cities across Russia have been detained while taking part in anti-war protests against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, less than a fortnight after Russian troops rolled across the border.

Images from Russia’s largest cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg showed riot officers manhandling both men and women on Sunday.

Video footage also showed police officers stopping people in the streets and demanding to see their phones, reading their messages and arresting anybody who refused to comply, while other activists were filmed being battered by officers armed with batons. 

Russia’s interior ministry said earlier that police had detained around 3,500 people, including 1,700 in Moscow, 750 in St Petersburg and 1,061 in other cities.

MOSCOW: Four police officers are seen carrying a masked protester who was rallying against Russia's invasion of Ukraine

MOSCOW: Four police officers are seen carrying a masked protester who was rallying against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

MOSCOW: A woman shouts as two officers detain her for taking part in an anti-war protest in Moscow on Sunday afternoon

MOSCOW: A woman shouts as two officers detain her for taking part in an anti-war protest in Moscow on Sunday afternoon

Ukraine war latest: at a glance 

  • Boris Johnson has drawn up a six-point plan to defeat Vladimir Putin as he moves to assume leadership of global efforts to end the horror of war in Ukraine. 
  • A second attempt to evacuate Mariupol failed today after Ukraine accused the Russians of shelling the city as citizens attempted to flee through a ‘humanitarian corridor’.
  • More than 1.5million refugees have now fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries since Vladimir Putin invaded, United Nations figures have shown. 
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says missiles have struck and completely destroyed Vinnytsia regional airport, and urges NATO to close the airspace and make a no-fly zone. 
  • The Pope deplored ‘rivers of blood’ in Ukraine as he demanded humanitarian corridors. 
  • Elon Musk held a video call with Volodymyr Zelensky as he promised to bolster his Starlink satellite support for the war-torn country, as he tweeted: ‘Hold strong Ukraine.’ 
  • A Ukrainian peace negotiator is reported to have been shot dead amid claims he might have been a spy for the Russians. The reports are unconfirmed.  
  • French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday held new telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Elysee said. 
  • More than 1,700 people in cities across Russia have been detained while taking part in anti-war protests against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, a monitor said, more than a week after the assault began.
  • Russian pilots have been filmed saying they were ‘following orders’ after their aircraft was shot down over Ukraine.  
  • The deputy minister of defence for Belarus has submitted his resignation and claimed he cannot support the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • BBC World News has been taken OFF AIR in Russia – two days after Putin approved law that could lock up journalists for 15 years for spreading ‘fake information’. 

Russian police earlier this week that all attempts to hold illegal demonstrations over the weekend would be ‘immediately suppressed’ and organisers and participants would face charges.

The total number of Russian demonstrators held since February 24, when President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine to carry out a ‘special operation’, has now risen to almost 10,000. 

Despite the official crackdown on demonstrations, and protesters facing jail terms, there have been daily protests since the invasion.

The new additions to the list of blocked media included Mediazona, a news site that covers Russia’s police and justice system and has been an indispensable source of information about political arrests and high-profile court cases; the 7×7 site covering regional news; the Troitsky Variant popular science newspaper that has published an open letter decrying the invasion; and two regional news sites that also spoke out against the attack.

US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty announced on Sunday it was suspending its operation in Russia after it said the country intensified pressure on its journalists and tax authorities initiated bankruptcy proceedings against it.

‘(Russian communications and media agency) Roskomnadzor demanded we delete our entire website. Yes, we received this demand from the agency – to block ourselves. Because we incorrectly cover Russia’s attack on Ukraine and call the war a war,’ Mediazona said in a statement.

‘We were prepared for this. In recent days, military censorship has been effectively introduced in Russia, and there are almost no independent media left in the country.

‘We understand all our risks, but we continue to work – this is our duty to our readers and to ourselves,’ the outlet said and listed several ways Russian readers can get around the block.

RFE/RL, which has been physically present in Russia since 1991, was planning to continue reporting on Russia and its war in Ukraine from abroad. 

‘We will continue to expand our reporting for Russian audiences and will use every platform possible to reach them at a time when they need our journalism more than ever,’ chief executive Jamie Fly said. 

Earlier this week, jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny urged Russians to stage daily demonstrations, saying the country should not be a ‘nation of frightened cowards’.

‘I am urging everyone to take to the streets and fight for peace,’ he said in a statement posted on Facebook, calling on Russians not to be afraid of going to prison.

‘If, to prevent war, we need to fill up the jails and police vans, we will fill up the jails and police vans.’

‘Everything has a price and now, in the spring of 2022, we should pay that price.’

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