Russian Soldier Shares War Journal, Flees Country

'I don’t see justice in this war. I don’t see truth here,' says Pavel Filatyev
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2022 1:40 PM CDT

A Russian soldier injured in the early weeks of the war in Ukraine has published a damning journal of his war experiences—and fled the country. Pavel Filatyev, a 34-year-old paratrooper, posted the 141-page journal on social media, describing his experiences after his unit was ordered to march into southern Ukraine from Crimea, the Washington Post reports. Filatyev, one of the only Russian service members to speak out against the war, describes a military in total disarray, with soldiers looting buildings for computers—and food—after capturing Kherson. He says it took him "weeks to understand there was no war on Russian territory at all, and that we had just attacked Ukraine," per the Guardian.

Filatyev says his poorly equipped unit was ordered to push on to Mykolaiv, but as the offensive stalled, they were pinned down in trenches for more than a month, with some soldiers becoming so demoralized that they shot themselves in the legs to get out—and claim the $50,000 the government offered injured troops. "Due to artillery shelling, some villages nearby practically ceased to exist. Everyone was getting angrier and angrier. Some grandmother poisoned our pies. Almost everyone got a fungus, someone’s teeth fell out, the skin was peeling off," he writes. "Many discussed how, when they return, they will hold the command accountable for lack of provision and incompetent leadership."

Filatyev says he was evacuated in early April after a shell blasted dirt into his eyes and an infection almost blinded him. He then spent 45 days writing the memoir. "I don’t see justice in this war. I don’t see truth here," he told the Guardian before a human rights group helped him get out of the country. In his journal, he strongly criticizes the Kremlin's propaganda justifying the war—and says many of his comrades agree with him. "The majority in the army, they are dissatisfied with what is happening there, they are dissatisfied with the government and their command, they are dissatisfied with Putin and his policies," he writes. "I can no longer watch all this happen and remain silent." The journal "may not change anything," he writes, "but I will not participate in this madness." (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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