Russian recruitment offices refuse to grant veteran status to soldiers fighting in Syria

Russian soldiers who have participated in combat in Syria are fighting to obtain official recognition as combat veterans and pension supplements for their families, Kommersant reports.

In the Russian city of Vladimir, a court has awarded a lawsuit filed by the widow of a Russian officer killed in Syria against the local recruitment office, which refused to pay her pension supplements for the loss the family breadwinner. The issue is that the recruitment offices in Russia refuse to recognize Russians who have fought in Syria as combat veterans, which is why their families have to take the matter to court.

“The recruitment offices’ stance is that they always refuse to recognize such claims. In spite of this, these statements of claim are won and the rights are restored,” explained an assistant of the Vladimir garrison’s prosecutor.

The recruitment office refused to recognize the claim, asserting that the deceased was not a combat veteran, despite the fact that between 2017 and the date of his death, he was in Russia’s special forces. According to the deceased officer’s widow, her husband gained veteran status as early as 2009 for participating in combat in Chechnya. The court ruled in her favor, obligating the recruitment office to pay her pension and an additional 39,000 rubles (around $600).

Sergey Timokhin, who heads a public organization called the “Union of veteran soldiers who have served in Syria”, told reporters in a comment that he and other members of his organization have already been “fighting for a long time” for recognition of their service in Syria. He noted that it is not only Russian soldiers who have encountered this problem, but even veterans of combat during the Soviet Union period.

Timokhin asked for assistance from all court instances, as well as from Russian President Vladimir Putin and retired Colonel General Vladimir Shamanov. The head of the veteran organization believes that the lack of recognition for service in Syria and other “hotspots” is connected to certain documents being classified as secret. However, he believes that the situation can definitely be resolved, and that it is similar to a practice of the Soviet Union, which occasionally classified its deployment of troops in Syria or Chechnya as tourist trips.

The Russian parliament’s Security Committee claims to have dealt with the problem a long time ago through amendments to the law which stipulates the conflict locations for which veteran status can be awarded.

  Russia, Syria, Putin

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