Thanks, Dad Russian general visits frontlines to pin a medal on his own son, who commanded attacks against Sumy and Chernihiv
In late March, the commander of Russia’s Central Military District, Colonel General Alexander Lapin, awarded his son Denis, the commander of the 1st Guards Tank Regiment, with a medal for courage and valor during the war in Ukraine. Journalists at BBC Russia described the ceremony in an investigative report published on May 4.
On March 29, the Defense Ministry’s television network, Zvezda, aired a report about how General Lapin met with units of Russia’s Central Military District “on the frontlines” near Chernihiv and presented medals “to servicemen who demonstrated courage and heroism during the liberation [sic] of settlements in the Chernihiv region.”
“My heartiest congratulations! For your fortitude, courage, and valor! Thank you. Congratulations!” Alexander Lapin said in the segment on Zvezda. “I serve Russia,” answered a 36-year-old lieutenant colonel.
Family members of troops who served with Denis Lapin in the 1st Guards Tank Regiment (Military Unit No. 58198) later told journalists at BBC Russia that the ceremony broadcast on television showed a father presenting a medal to his own son.
The medals awarded by Colonel General Lapin were Russia’s Order of Courage, the Medal for Valor, the Order for Merit to the Fatherland, and the Medal of Zhukov, according to Zvezda’s report. It’s unclear which of these honors Denis Lapin received, though the object pinned on his chest resembles the Medal of Zhukov. In communications allegedly intercepted by Ukraine’s National Security Service, however, Russian soldiers talked about “a general” making a special trip to award the Medal for Valor to “his own son.”
Lieutenant Colonel Denis Lapin led Russian attacks on the Ukrainian cities of Sumy and Chernihiv. The same day that Zvezda aired footage of Lapin’s medal ceremony, Moscow announced that it would “drastically reduce” its military activities aimed at Kyiv and Chernihiv. Russia later withdrew its troops from those two regions.
According to the telephone communications intercepted by Ukrainian intelligence officials, Russia began suffering casualties around Kyiv and Chernihiv in the very first days of the invasion launched in late February 2022. Ukrainian officials also released videos showing captured soldiers from the 1st Guards Tank Regiment. The Telegram channel Look for Your Own (an initiative by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry to share footage of Russian POWs) has published 19 interrogation videos featuring soldiers from this regiment. According to the BBC, at least three servicemen in the regiment have gone missing since the start of the invasion.
Lieutenant Colonel Lapin did not respond the BBC Russia’s messages. The news outlet is also waiting to hear from the Russian Defense Ministry whether it’s customary for fathers to award medals to their sons, whether reports are accurate that Lapin has been promoted to full colonel, and whether Moscow is working to bring home the captured soldiers in the 1st Guards Tank Regiment.