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‘We hope this is a mistake’ Descendant of decorated fighter pilot Vladimir Surovikin is eager to prove that both he and his great-grandfather are completely unrelated to Russia’s ‘General Armageddon’
Waldemar Masicz is a direct descendant of Vladimir Surovikin, a fighter pilot who served in the Russian Far East during the Korean War and died in a plane crash in 1966: when his engine failed, he tried to steer his aircraft away from the houses below, leaving himself no time to eject. Surovikin was posthumously awarded a Lenin medal. Today, a memorial plaque in the Siberian city of Ussuriysk commemorates his act of gallantry. To the chagrin of Surovikin’s great-grandson, in a recent post on his Telegram, state media reporter Alexander Sladkov presented Vladimir Surovikin as the father of another Surovikin in the Russian military — namely, “General Armageddon,” who took command of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this fall. The pro-Kremlin media were quick to pick up this story, building on General Surovikin’s supposedly heroic lineage. Masicz suspects that state propagandists are exploiting his great-grandfather’s act of courage to add flair to Sergey Surovikin’s biography. As someone who openly opposes the war in Ukraine, Masicz doesn’t want his ancestor’s name to be tarnished by this newfound “connection.”
On November 18, pro-Kremlin reporter and self-styled “war correspondent” Alexander Sladkov wrote on Telegram that he had just spoken to his “senior friend,” Vasily Masyuk, “the legendary commander of the Moscow border guard detachment.” Masyuk, Sladkov wrote, had informed him that “General Surovikin’s father, it turns out, shot down three American planes.” He went on to explain that Sergey Surovikin was supposedly born to Vladimir Surovikin’s widow, five months after his father’s death, on October 11, 1966. This happens to be General Surovikin’s actual birth date, and his patronymic, “Vladimirovich,” does match his would-be father’s first name.
Masyuk also told Sladkov that Sergey Surovikin “visited his father’s grave” in the village of Vozdvizhenka when he commanded Russia’s Eastern Military District from 2013 to 2017. After Sladkov shared this claim about Surovikin’s paternity, a number of pro-Kremlin media posted their own articles about the general’s storied ancestry. Meanwhile, General Surovikin himself has not commented.
Waldemar Masicz, Vladimir Surovikin’s great-grandson, was named after his ancestor, and he doesn’t welcome the attempt to tie his family to Russia’s “General Armageddon.” When speaking with Poligon.Media, Masicz made clear that his great-grandfather had no sons, and that Masicz’s grandmother was Vladimir Surovikin’s only daughter, born from his only marriage (to Tatiana Filippovna Surovikina). “She wasn’t Sergey Surovikin’s mother. And he wasn’t her son,” Masicz wrote on Facebook.
General Sergey Surovikin’s main claim to fame is his readiness to conduct indiscriminate strikes on civilian infrastructure. He took command of Russia’s forces in Ukraine on October 8, the day of the Crimean Bridge explosion. Since October 10, the Russian military has launched a series of massive strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities, plunging Ukraine into a genuine humanitarian crisis. Masicz, who condemns the invasion, is far from delighted by the fabricated family connection to Sergey Surovikin.
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Writing on Facebook, Masicz asked writers not to make his great-grandfather a participant in an operation that brings misery to “hundreds of thousands of people.” “His heroic act was about love for other people, and nothing else,” wrote Masicz, arguing that his ancestor’s biography should not be used to embellish someone else’s. “The problem is that we have no idea who Sergey Surovikin is,” he added. “Someone in the Far East seems to be confused. We hope this is a mistake.”
Incidentally, this isn’t the first attempt to link the two men. Even before Sladkov’s Telegram post, others described Sergey Surovikin as Vladimir Surovikin’s son. For example, the Wikipedia articles on the two Surovikins also state — without citations to credible evidence — that they are father and son.
In response to Masicz’s statements, Sladkov said only that he has “already presented his point of view.” “It’s wonderful when people try to discover something, and when they try to verify their knowledge. It’s good, it’s normal, and I welcome it,” he said, concluding: “Let the truth be our judge.”
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