Russian soldiers who fought in Syria denied official recognition as veterans of the Russian military
The administrative offices of the Russian military have consistently refused to recognize Russian citizens who fought in Syria as war veterans who may receive military pensions from the Russian government, Kommersant has found. Soldiers who were killed in action in Syria are also being denied official military status.
Kommersant’s report on the issue highlighted the case of Andrei Pylenok, who was killed in a plane crash on a Syrian base in March 2018. His widow was ultimately able to receive official recognition of his veteran status and a corresponding increase in the state pension she received for losing her family’s main breadwinner, but achieving that recognition required her to turn to Russia’s court system after an initial refusal from the military commissariat of Vladimir Oblast.
Ilya Boldyrev, an assistant prosecutor in the Vladimir garrison who represented Pylenok’s widow, said it has become a widespread practice in military offices to refuse to recognize Russian soldiers in Syria as veterans of military combat after they return. However, he noted that such decisions can often be successfully challenged in court.
Russian forces have been undertaking operations in Syria since fall 2015. Official statistics indicate that 112 Russian soldiers had been killed in the country by October 1, 2018. Officials have previously made efforts to play down Russian military intervention in the Syrian war, especially where privately hired soldiers are concerned.