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“Everyone is drunk, there are no uniforms, there is no food”. What relatives of deceased mobilized people say

Four days after the announcement by the Russian president Vladimir Putin mobilization of hundreds of thousands of men from Russia, a father of six is ‚Äč‚Äčresponding. He was sent to Novosibirsk of additional training. Nine days later, his family was notified of his death.

This is the story of the 35-year-old Alexander Koltunwhich is mobilized in the Siberian city Bratsk. His relatives still do not know what exactly happened to him.

Against the background of such cases, more and more recently mobilized, which in Russia are called “mobile phones”, say that they were left for days without even food and water while waiting for new orders. Multiple videos have circulated on social media showing senior officers ordering soldiers to buy their own equipment or take medicine from their homes.

Koltun’s case is not unique. Since the announcement of the mobilization on September 21, there are already reports of at least 16 deaths even before being sent to the front. Many of the deaths are portrayed in the media as suicides. For others, there are no details at all, as is the case with Koltun. His relatives fear they will never know what happened to him.

“My daughter-in-law called me in the middle of the night. She was crying and told me that Sasha had died,” says Koltun’s mother – Elena Gudo, in front of the Siberian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. And he adds that they still don’t know what happened at the training in Novosibirsk.

“Nasty Vodka” and a bill for transporting a corpse

Koltun and his wife Galina raised their six children in a one-room apartment. It was given to the woman free of charge by the state because of her orphan status. Four of the children are from Galina’s previous marriage, and the youngest is 16 months old.

Koltun worked as a security guard, but later set aside funds and, together with his mother, invested in a shoe store in the 240,000-strong city of Bratsk.

Alexander has military experience. He was part of the Airborne Forces, making him a priority for mobilization. The man appears before the military on September 25.

All mothers should think before sending their sons there

“I didn’t want him to go. I told him: ‘Son, you have such a big family, who are they going to be with?’ , that “all mothers should think before sending their sons there.”

Anastasia Pestova, who is a friend of the family, says that all of Alexander’s relatives were against his decision to respond to the call for mobilization.

“You can’t say that he joined the army for money. They didn’t need it, they had a big, nice car. Both his wife and his mother tried to dissuade him. They were afraid for him,” says Pestova .

Alexander Koltun

Alexander calls his relatives in Novosibirsk, where he was sent with other men from Bratsk. His mother claims he took 7,000 rubles ($112) with him, but by October 2 he had already spent it all. According to him, unknown people were selling “nasty vodka” near the battlegrounds, with which the soldiers drank themselves. Koltun claims to his mother that he does not. Alexander described the situation on the ground as “a complete mess.”

We’re going back and forth, everyone’s drunk, they didn’t give us any uniforms, there’s no food

“He was saying, ‘We’re going back and forth. Everyone is drunk, there are no uniforms, there is no food,” recounts the soldier’s mother, adding that her son ate only what he took from home.

On October 3, Koltun’s family received a photo showing him sitting on a concrete slab, writhing in pain while waiting for an ambulance.

“He was recently diagnosed with a hernia, but he believed that it would not interfere with his service. However, I can’t believe that there was no medical board during the mobilization. They didn’t even do basic medical tests,” his mother is puzzled .

He and Alexander’s wife never received an explanation or condolence letter for his death. Gudo says the only information they received was that the man’s body would be returned from Novosibirsk to Bratsk on October 10.

The two women had to pay a bill of 180 thousand rubles ($2,900) for the transportation of his mortal remains. The city administration still offers them compensation.

“We don’t have a death certificate yet. It looks like he had a heart attack, but he never had any heart problems. How is that possible? It’s a mobilization,” says Alexander’s mother.

Return of stretcher days before death

Although the deaths are relatively few against the total number mobilized, they have a serious impact on the families of the dead and affect confidence in the entire system.

The 44-year-old Denis Kozlov was one of the first mobilized from the region of You’re arguing in the Chelyabinsk region. This is happening on September 27th.

“We were not against his plan, because Denis dreamed of being in the military since he was a child. He graduated from the tank school in Chelyabinsk and served for a long time in Ulan-Ude,” says his mother Zoya in front of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Kozlov had an injury to one knee, but he did not want this to be considered an attempt to avoid mobilization and answered the call. He obtains a full set of medical documents and believes that with them he will be able to be released.

There was no medical board there, so they put him on a bus with all his hospital documents

“There was no medical board there, so they put him on a bus along with all his hospital documents. We thought that at least the medical board in the recruitment board would solve this case easily,” says his mother.

Three days later, Kozlov was brought back to his home on a stretcher by an ambulance. His mother says that he could not walk on his own, but he was conscious. However, she hardly recognized him at first.

A few days later, Kozlov died, and his mother suspected that his death was not of natural causes: “When they brought him in, his nose was broken. All the neighbors saw it. His stomach was blue. I’m sure that’s where they found him very strong. But now I can’t prove anything. I’ve lived here all my life and I know how they’re going to ‘investigate’.”

Five days after the mobilization was announced, Putin publicly acknowledged “mistakes”. This happened during a meeting of the Security Council.

Mentioning “fathers of many children or people suffering from chronic diseases”, the Russian president declared that “all mistakes must be corrected and in the future their recurrence should be prevented”. There is no public information on whether the Kremlin has taken any specific measures.

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