Russian soldier seeks asylum in France after denouncing war in Ukraine: “Corruption, disorder have crossed acceptable limits”

The 34-year-old soldier arrived in Roissy via Tunisia on Sunday and met with agents from the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra) on Monday.

“Pavel Filativ was released at the end of (Tuesday) afternoon” and authorized to enter French territory, his lawyer Kamalia Mehdiyeva told AFP, adding that he had eight days to file a request for leave. “We are happy with this decision and will submit a request for political asylum in the next few days,” he added.

The reason? In early August, the paratrooper, who reenlisted last year in the Crimea-based 56th Regiment of Airborne Forces, published a reprimanding 141-page account on the social network Vkontakte after a brief absence from the army. The position of Russian troops and the war in Ukraine.

“When I learned that the command asked for a fifteen-year prison sentence for disinformation (against the Russian army, author’s note), I understood that I can’t achieve anything here, and my lawyers can’t do anything against me. Russia,” Pavel Filativ told AFP, who He met him in the waiting area for asylum seekers in Roissy on Monday.

His text, “ZOV” – which means “call” in Russian and at the same time recalls the letters painted on Russian tanks in Ukraine – criticized the offensive launched on February 24.

“We do not have the moral right to attack another country, which is a people very close to us,” writes the soldier, son of a soldier who served in the same 56th regiment, in this story.

“Corruption” and “I Don’t Care”

He depicts a Russian army “in the same condition as Russia has been in recent years”, barely armed and inadequately trained.

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“Every year, the bazaar and corruption become more and more pregnant,” explains Pavel Filative. “I don’t mind the corruption, the disorder, the transgressing of acceptable limits,” he adds, adding that he soon became disillusioned after signing his contract.

“In the first few months, I was in shock. I said to myself + it’s not possible + and, by the end of the year, I understood that I don’t want to serve in such an army,” admits the soldier.

However, he has not resigned and finds himself on the front lines of what the Kremlin calls a “special operation”. With his regiment, he went first to Kherson, and then to Mykolayiv, two cities on the shores of the Black Sea.

“If the army was already confused and corrupt in peacetime, I don’t worry, in times of war, fighting, it will become even more visible and the lack of professionalism will be even more visible,” he said. , believes the Russian government was instrumental in “destroying the military it inherited from the Soviet Union.”

“It’s Hard to Let Go”

After two months of fighting, promising that his regiment had not taken part in any operations against civilians or prisoners, Pavel Filativ was evacuated and hospitalized in Sevastopol, Crimea, due to an infection in his right eye.

He tries to resign for health reasons, but his hierarchy asks him to return to the front, threatening to launch an investigation against him if he doesn’t.

In early August, he leaves Crimea and publishes his diary on the Internet. He wandered from town to town in Russia to avoid detection and eventually fled the country.

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“Why am I telling all this in detail? I want people in Russia and around the world to understand how this war happened and why people continue to fight it,” says Pavel Filativ. “Not because they want to fight, but because they find themselves in such a situation, it’s very difficult for them to get out.”

“The army is just as scary as Russian society,” he says, estimating that only 10% of soldiers support the war, with most soldiers afraid to speak out. “Those who oppose the war are afraid of the consequences to say it and get out.”

If he gets refugee status, he says he wants to work “to make sure this war ends.” “I want as many young Russians as possible to go there and take part in it, to know what’s going on there.”

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