Russian paratrooper flees to France, accusing army of ‘chaos’

FRANCE: Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatiev has arrived in France seeking political asylum after fleeing his country fearing reprisals for a first-person account of the war in Ukraine published online on Sunday.

“I realized that I would not go anywhere here and that my lawyers could not do anything for me in Russia when I learned that senior brass had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for false news,” Filatiev said. at Agence France. Told – Press in the waiting area for asylum seekers at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

According to his lawyer, Kamalia Mehtieva, “Pavel Filatiev was released at the end of the afternoon” after receiving official authorization to enter France, where he would have eight days to file an asylum application.

“We are very satisfied with this decision and will apply for political asylum in the coming days,” Mehtieva said.

After leaving the army, the 34-year-old joined Russia’s 56th Air Regiment based in Crimea last year.

When President Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” against Kyiv on February 24, paratroopers were sent to southern Ukraine.

Filatiev spent two months patrolling the major cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv before being forced to withdraw from the front due to an eye infection.

“We had no moral right to attack another country, especially when it was the country closest to us,” he wrote in a comprehensive 141-page section titled “ZOV” that he posted on the VKontakte social network in August.

The title, derived from the Russian word for “call”, is made up of ID cards that were painted on military vehicles during the attack.

Filatiev rails against both the military state and Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, which he says is largely resisted by rank-and-file soldiers who are too afraid to speak out.

Filatiev paints a picture of a barely functional force that lacked training and equipment even before the start of the offensive.
He told Agence France-Presse that the armed forces “are in the same position that Russia has fallen into in recent years”.

“Year after year, lawlessness and corruption have spread.” Corruption, disorder and reckless behavior have reached unacceptable levels.

I was in shock for the first few months, telling myself that it couldn’t be true. I realized at the end of the year that I didn’t want to serve in such an army.”

But he did not resign before the start of the invasion of Ukraine and he found himself at the head of his unit in the south of the neighboring country.
“If the army were already peaceful, corrupt and apathetic, it is clear that in times of war, in combat, it would be brought to the fore even more, and the lack of professionalism would be even more apparent,” Filatiev said.

The ruling class in Moscow helped “destroy the army inherited from the Soviet Union”.

During his two months at the front, Filatiev insisted his unit had not participated in abuses against civilians and prisoners, prompting global outrage and accusations of war crimes by the Russian invaders.

He tried to quit on health grounds after being evacuated to a military hospital in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, before being threatened with an investigation if he refused to return to combat.
He left Crimea in early August and published his war diary online.

Filatiev spent time traveling from town to town to avoid detection before fleeing the country, arriving in France via Tunisia this week.
“Why am I going into so much detail?” “I want people in Russia and around the world to understand how this war started and why people continue to fight it,” he said.

“It’s not because they want to fight, it’s because they’re in conditions that make it very difficult to leave,” Filatiev said of the Russians.
“The army, the whole Russian society is afraid,” he said.

According to Filatiev, only 10% of soldiers support the war, the others are afraid to speak out.

“The protesters are afraid to say anything, afraid to leave.” “They are afraid of the consequences,” he explained.
If he obtains asylum in France, Filatiev plans to “work towards the end of this war”.

“I want at least young Russian men to come out and get involved, so they know what’s going on.”

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