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The platoon that would end the war What the adult, draft-eligible (civilian) children of Russia’s elite have to say about the invasion of Ukraine

Source: iStories
Vladimir Smirnov / TASS

“Let me form a platoon made up of children of the elite, and the war will end within a day,” goes a popular, if apocryphal, quote often attributed to the late Russian General Alexander Lebed. In this spirit, journalists at the investigative news outlet iStories telephoned the draft-age children of several Russian politicians and oligarchs and asked if they have received draft orders and how they feel about the war generally. These were the responses.

Kirill Shamalov
Sergey Fadeichev / ТАСС

Kirill Shamalov, former son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Age: 40

Kirill Shamalov is the son of Nikolai Shamalov, a longtime friend of Vladimir Putin and one of the founders of the Ozero Dacha Cooperative. Until 2018, Kirill was married to Putin’s daughter, Katerina Tikhonova. Since 2016, he’s been featured on Forbes Russia’s list of the wealthiest Russians.

— I’m a journalist from the outlet iStories.

— Oh, God!

— I wanted to ask you, have you received a summons?

— A summons? What kind of summons?

— During mobilization.

— No, I didn’t. Why?

— We’re preparing a story about people who are close to politically exposed persons. If mobilization continues, what will you do?

— Well, we’ll deal with the events as they unfold.

— And if they draft you, will you go?

— When they draft me, then I’ll answer that question.

— What’s your attitude about the special military operation?

— You know, your outlet writes all sorts of nasty things about me. It’s not very pleasant to have you digging things up, making up all kinds of facts you don’t understand anything about and showing people exactly the picture you want, rather than things as they really are. You don’t answer questions, and you get money from Washington. Or, if you do [get money from Washington], you won’t say anything about it. I have a very negative view of your outlet because you periodically snoop in my personal life. You’re in the business of dirty laundry. I don’t see the point in talking about anything — you’re just going to post it in whatever way is most beneficial to you. […] All the best to you!

Alexey Kozak
IM Events

Alexey Kozak, son of Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak

Age: 39

Dmitry Kozak oversees the Putin administration’s engagement with Ukraine and represented the Russian delegation at the Minsk negotiations. At the February 21 emergency meeting of Russia’s Security Council where Putin signed a decree recognizing the Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” as independent states, Kozak said that Kyiv would never uphold the Minsk agreements: “It’s obvious that they don’t want to return the Donbas to Ukraine — not through the Minsk [agreements] and not without the Minsk [agreements]. It’s beneficial for them.” Dmitry Kozak’s eldest son, Alexey Kozak, previously worked at the Russian bank VTB Bank before becoming the head of the Russian branch of the real estate company Züblin Immobilien.

When asked by iStories about whether he received a draft summons, Alexey Kozak said he was “not ready to discuss this.”

Dmitry Trutnev
Perm Chamber of Commerce

Dmitry and Alexander Trutnev, sons of Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev

Ages: 40 and 29

Yury Trutnev’s older son, Dmitry, studied at London Metropolitan University before working at multiple financial institutions in Bulgaria. In Russia, Dmitry Trutnev is the co-owner of several companies, the largest of which, an oil company called Rid Oil Perm, has links to oligarch and billionaire Andrey Kuzyaev.

— Have you received a draft summons?

— An iStories correspondent? How did you get my number?

— It’s publicly available.

— No, it’s not publicly available. Who gave it to you?

— We have an investigations department; they gave it to me. I’m calling to clarify something.

— You have a strange number, a foreign one…

— I’m calling from Skype. I can call you back on WhatsApp if that’s more convenient for you.

— No, what’ll be more convenient for me is if you don’t call me anymore.

Yury Trutnev’s other son, Alexander Trutnev, went to Moscow State University. Records show that he received income in 2021 from VEB, Russia’s state development corporation.

— Did you get a draft summons?

— Uh… No.

— If mobilization continues, what will you do?

— Well, if my motherland needs me, I’ll go. [Laughs.]

— Have you served? Maybe you have the skills to serve as a volunteer?

— No, I didn’t serve, and I haven’t had any thoughts about volunteering, either.

— What’s your attitude towards the special military operation?

— I think it’s a necessary measure.

— If it becomes necessary to go defend your homeland, will you go?

— Yes.

Kirill Rubinchik, nephew of the ex-wife of Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin

Age: 32

Kirill Rubinchik is the nephew of Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s ex-wife, Irina. He’s worked for various state corporations as a repairman and a foreman. When iStories called Kirill, he seemed to be on vacation (people could be heard crying “Bro!” in the background).

— Have you received a summons?

— To where?

— To the army, to the front…

— No, I haven’t so far.

— What if they draft you?

— Well, I mean, I don’t know yet. That’s a hard question right now.

— But what if they send it?

— Damn, that’s a hard question. I don’t know yet. I can’t say anything specific at this point.

— What’s your attitude towards the special military operation?

— Well, I mean, the usual one. The normal attitude.

— Do you support it? Oppose it? Are you neutral?

— Neutral.

— You don’t want to say what your opinion is?

— Yes, I don’t want to talk. That’s my opinion.

— Do you support the statements your uncle [Sergey Sobyanin] has made?

— My feelings towards all of that are neutral. It’s difficult to say yes, no, whatever else…

— So if a draft summons comes, will you play it by ear?

— Yes, of course.

Denis Karelin
Persona RF

Denis Karelin, son of Federation Council member Alexander Karelin

Age: 36

Denis Karelin is the co-owner of 11 legal entities in the Novosibirsk region, whence the family hails. His businesses span the construction, trade, printing, restaurant, and furniture manufacturing industries.

— Have you received a summons?

— No.

— If mobilization continues, will you go?

— Why are you asking me? I’m curious.

— Your dad isn’t exactly the lowest ranking person in the government, and he also supports the special military operation. We want to know your opinion, too.

— If it continues, then of course. If they mobilize the category of people that I fit in by age and other criteria, then of course. This is our motherland.

— And you haven’t thought about going as a volunteer? Don’t you have the skills?

— At this point, I haven't [thought about it].

Roman Putin
Wikimedia Commons

Roman Putin, Vladimir Putin’s first cousin once removed

Age: 45

Roman Putin is the son of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first cousin Igor Putin. The family is originally from Ryazan and isn’t especially close to the president. Like Vladimir Putin, Roman Putin began his career in the FSB before going on to serve in the Ryazan city administration. After that, he founded a company called Putin Consulting, which helps small and mid-size businesses win public procurements and provides investment consulting, PR, and other services. Roman Putin has made no secret of the fact that his last name goes far to help his business. In 2020, he founded the People Against Corruption party and ran for Russian State Duma.

— Did you receive a summons?

— Goodbye. 

Original story by Ekaterina Fomina from iStories

Abridged translation by Sam Breazeale

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