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“My son did not go there of his own free will”: the mother of a Russian soldier imprisoned in Ukraine desperately looking for him

“My son did not go there of his own free will”: the mother of a Russian soldier imprisoned in Ukraine desperately looking for him

“My son did not go there of his own free will”: the mother of a Russian soldier imprisoned in Ukraine desperately looking for him

On Thursday, February 24, the first day of the invasion of Ukrainea photo of two men dressed in Russian army uniforms and described as prisoners of war, was posted on the Facebook page of the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valeriy Zaluzny.

It was then, says Natalya Deineka, that she learned that his son, Rafik Rakhmankulov, was participating in the war.

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In an interview with BBC Russia, the 40-year-old says that her sister was the one who first told her about the photo.

Natalia has not yet received any confirmation of Rafik’s whereabouts.

“I contacted an officer from his military unit and told him what happened,” says Natalya.

“He said that counterintelligence would verify whether Rafik was in captivity or not, but no confirmation yet“, Add.

But the military authority did not deny that the 19-year-old, who joined the army less than a year ago, had been sent to the Ukrainian front.

“He did not know they would take them there”

Natalia claims that her son, who is a combat engineer in the 4th Guards Tank Division (Kantemirovskaya), did not know that he would be sent to fight in the invasion of Ukraine.

Natalia Deineka says she found out on social media that her son had been sent to the invasion of Ukraine

“He didn’t know they were going to be taken there. They found out when they got there,” he says.

The last time Natalia spoke to Rafik was on February 23, when she told him that her division was near the Ukrainian border.

“I asked him why he hadn’t said they were going to be transferred and he replied: ‘So you don’t worry’. He also told me that everything was calm.”

When the images of the prisoners began to circulate, the Russian television channel Russia-24 called them “fake news”.

Steady income

Natalia says that she has contacted several organizations, including the Committee of Mothers of Soldiers, a Russian NGO.

“They took the data, but so far there is no information,” he says.

“I do not know what to do. The media is silent about the fact that our children were captured. Or they don’t know,” he says.

Natalia says Rafik entered the army in June 2021 as a conscript, which under the law would have prevented him from participating in combat operations.

But Rafik’s girlfriend, Liliya, told BBC Russia that the young man became a contract soldier in December past to “provide for his future family”, despite her efforts to convince him otherwise.

Rafik saw the army as a promise of financial security, says his mother

Rafik saw the army as a promise of financial security, says his mother

Rafik’s mother explains that her son had been studying at an agricultural technical school but dropped out to join the army.

The young man saw in the army a promise of financial security.

“The military are given housing, there you can have a normal salary. There is no work in the country now,” says Natalia.

“My son wasn’t particularly interested in a military career. It was more of an opportunity to settle down, to have some kind of stable income.

Rafik is one of Natalia’s three children, her current partner also has three.

“My son did not go there of his own free will”

When asked what she thought about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Natalia says that she does not follow politics or watch the news.

“To be honest, I don’t understand what all this is for,” she analyzes.

“In our country, some people have nothing to eat. I do not understand any war or any military action.

Ukrainian soldiers.  (REUTERS)

Ukrainian soldiers. (REUTERS)

The woman was understandably distressed to read comments on social media about her son being sent to the conflict, especially those with threats against Rafik and other Russian soldiers who could become prisoners in Ukraine.

“My son did not go there of his own free will, the commander in chief sent him there,” he said.

“What for? I can’t answer that.”

“Which door should I knock on to get my son back?” he asks.

Blocking

Meanwhile, the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor blocking Ishchi svoikh (“Look for your loved one”)a website created by the Ukrainian authorities for the families of Russian soldiers who died or became prisoners in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The website publishes photos or documents of the soldiers.

A tank with Russian soldiers mobilized from Crimea.  (GETTY IMAGES).

A tank with Russian soldiers mobilized from Crimea. (GETTY IMAGES).

The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs had announced on Saturday the creation of the website and a social media channel with information about Russian victims and prisoners of war so that relatives in Russia can find out what happened to their loved ones.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the website was “a gesture of goodwill towards Russian mothers”.

Moscow admitted for the first time on Sunday that there were Russian casualties in the course of the fighting that began on February 24, but gave no figures.

Ukraine says that 4,300 Russian soldiers died since the beginning of the war. These numbers were not verified.

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Source: Elcomercio

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