Saturday, July 25, 2015

Moscow’s Ukrainian war again filling Russian streets with invalids

July 25, 2015 ( Moscow may be able to disown two of its soldiers who fought in its war in Ukraine, and it may even be able to convince many Russians and the gullible in the West that doing so is somehow appropriate. But as in Soviet times, it won’t be able to hide one of the most serious costs of that aggression: the increasing number of war invalids on Russian streets.
Almost 30 years ago and in response to the outrageous claims of Russian officials that “there are no invalids in the USSR,Valery Fefelov published a book with that title in London that documented not only how many invalids there were but how badly they were treated by the Soviet government even as they elicited sympathy from the Russian people.
Given how many wars declared and undeclared the Soviet Union was involved with, Fefelov wrote, there were an enormous number of invalids who suffered physical and mental traumas that did not end when the conflicts did. Instead, these victims of the regime returned home where all too often they were victimized again.

A one-armed Russian veteran of the Kremlin's invasion into Ukraine panhandling in a Moscow metro station. His sign says: "Help please on a prosthetic." (Image: Erich Hartmann on YouTube)

Now, like its Soviet antecedent, the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin is again engaged in an aggressive war, a conflict that not only has resulted in an increasing number of dead but also in a rapidly growing number of wounded, many of whom will be physical or mental invalids for decades to come.
That cost of the war has not attracted much attention up to now, but Oleg Panfilov, founder of the Moscow Center for Extreme Journalism who now teaches in Tbilisi, has begun to fill this gap, one that the Kremlin won’t acknowledge just as it won’t acknowledge the presence of its soldiers in Ukraine.