- A Russian paratrooper who fought in Ukraine wrote a 141-page memoir about his time there.
- Pavel Filatyev described how the soldiers were so exhausted that they injured themselves to leave.
- Filatyev, who has since fled Russia, told the Guardian he could “not be silent any longer”.
A Russian paratrooper who fought in Ukraine says soldiers deliberately shot themselves in the leg to escape the war and get a $50,000 payout.
Pavel Filatyev, 33, published a 141-page memoir two weeks ago detailing his experience on the front lines of war in Ukraine on Russian social media platform VKontakte, The Guardian reported. The initiate has seen the memoirs.
The memoir – titled “ZOV” after the Russian pro-war symbol – is the most detailed account of a Russian soldier fighting in Ukraine to date.
He describes how some Russian soldiers face so much chaos, hunger and destruction that they search for a way out.
“Someone started shooting himself in the limbs … to get 3 million rubles out of this hellhole,” Filatyev wrote in his memoirs.
His account mirrored similar reports from the New York Post and MailOnline earlier this year, which said Russian soldiers were telling family members that their comrades were shooting themselves in the leg on their way home.
A Reuters report in July confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced that injured soldiers could claim compensation of 3 million rubles, the equivalent of what an average Russian worker would earn in four years.
Filatyev was a member of the 56th Guards Air Assault Regiment based in Crimea, the peninsula Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, according to the memoir. Paratroopers are widely considered the elite of the Russian military, The Guardian reported.
He was sent to mainland Ukraine on February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion, and fought in the cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv before being injured and evacuated from the front lines with an eye infection in early July, reports The Guardian.
“It took me weeks to realize that there was no war at all on Russian territory and that we had just attacked Ukraine,” he told the Guardian.
In his memoirs, Filatyev also described Russian troops as “savages” who stole valuables from Ukrainian homes because it was “worth more than their salaries”.
“Like savages, we ate everything there: oats, porridge, jam, honey, coffee… We didn’t care about anything, we had already been pushed to the limit,” he wrote. “How wild you can drive people into not thinking about the fact that they need to sleep, eat and wash.”
Insider could not independently verify all of the details of Filatyev’s story.
Filatyev fled Russia last week via an undisclosed route, The Guardian reported, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
He told the Guardian he wrote the memoir because he felt he “couldn’t be silent any longer”.
“I’m not afraid to fight in war. But I need to feel justice, to understand that what I’m doing is right,” Filatyev told The Guardian. “And I believe all of this is failing not just because the government stole everything, but because we Russians don’t think what we’re doing is right.”
The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.