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Russian Police Sue Their Bosses After Being Fired For Refusing To Invade Ukraine

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Omon riot police – AFP via Getty Images

A Russian riot police unit is suing its bosses for wrongful dismissal after they were fired for refusing to invade Ukraine.

The story of how the Omon special police unit rebelled against Vladimir Putin’s invasion plans can only be told now after his case was made public by his lawyer and a human rights group.

“These people did not want to kill or be killed,” Mikhail Benyash, the lawyer for the rebel unit, told the Meduza.io website.

“So the Omon has a different function. They don’t know how to fire surface-to-air weapon systems. They don’t drive tanks. What can they do against a regular army with a staff and shield?

The unit from Russia’s southern Krasnodar region had been deployed in what they thought was an exercise in Crimea when they were ordered to cross the border into Ukraine on February 25, a day after Putin launched his invasion. .

In a sign that the Krasnodar Omon unit was not the only one to rebel against the order to invade Ukraine in February, Benyash said he received around 200 requests for legal help “from Siberia to the North Caucasus.”

Omon riot police - Sergei Savostyanov/Tass via Getty Images

Omon riot police – Sergei Savostyanov/Tass via Getty Images

The Russian leader hoped for an easy victory in the Ukraine, to overthrow the Ukrainian government quickly using lightly armed paratroopers, and then send in the Rozgardia (national guard), including the Omon riot police, to impose their authority over the captured cities.

Instead, Ukrainian resistance meant that the Russian Army suffered heavy casualties and resorted to siege warfare tactics.

The Omon riot police units, feared by opposition protesters in Russian cities, were never properly deployed and some, like the Krasnodar unit, rioted.

In a statement, Pavel Chikov, a human rights lawyer, said the 12 rebel Omon policemen from Krasnodar had had the right to refuse to cross into Ukraine.

“None of them had a passport with them, nor any intention to leave the territory of Russia, as their official duties were limited to the territory of the Russian Federation,” he said.

Other Omon units that deployed to Ukraine found themselves in a chaotic war zone. Armed only with helmets and batons, they were vulnerable to enemy attacks.

Omon riot police - AFP via Getty Images

Omon riot police – AFP via Getty Images

Kirill Alexeev, a lawyer and opposition politician from the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow, told The Telegraph how he was being interrogated at a police station when word reached the control center that an Omon unit in Ukraine had been ambushed and killed. .

“They stopped the interrogation to smoke cigarettes, a moment of mourning for their friends. They said they were good guys,” Alexeev said.

“The smoke break was a mourning ceremony in that situation and once they were done they kept questioning me.”

Separately, reports have begun filtering through Russian military recruiters targeting anti-war activists.

On Twitter, a video showed the moment when Yegor Beschastnov, a 19-year-old activist, was ordered by three military recruiters to report to his local army recruiting center. He had just left a police station in Samara, central Russia, after serving a 28-day detention for organizing an anti-war protest.

Under a law passed in early March, military recruiters can target anyone protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


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