Support The Moscow Times!

Russian Soldiers Say They’re Willing to Shoot Protesters, Serviceman Claims

Alexander Avilov / Moskva News Agency

Russian soldiers in Siberia have told their supervisors that they are willing to open fire on protesters if ordered, a special forces serviceman has claimed in an interview.

The soldier made the statement in a video interview published Tuesday by opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s office in the Siberian city of Tyumen. In the video, the soldier claimed that his unit had been questioned by federal authorities earlier this year about their political views and that his entire unit had voiced a readiness to shoot demonstrators. Russia’s Defense Ministry called the soldier’s remarks a “primitive hoax.”

“The authorities understand where all this leads and so they’d like to find out if the army will take their side when something happens,” the soldier, whose face was hidden in the video, told Navalny’s team.

On Wednesday, the regional news website reported that the soldier had revealed his first name as Artur but asked his last name to be withheld. Artur was conscripted at age 18 in 2017 and serves in the Pacific Fleet’s underwater sabotage forces, the website claimed.

Artur reportedly told the outlet that all 110 members of his team had said they were ready to fire on protesters when the non-anonymous poll was allegedly conducted earlier this year.

“There was no other option,” he was quoted as saying. “We all gave the answer that our superiors wanted.”

“What’s the point of expressing your opinion if they’ll write you off [into the reserves] over nothing?”

The Znak outlet said it had verified Artur’s identity through photographs of his military service card and ID number.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.