ISSN 2330-717X

Russian Courts Move To Close Important Source On Combat Losses In Ukraine – OpEd


On June 6, a Kaliningrad court ruled that a local media outlet could not use information about burials of soldiers who had died in Ukraine that had been gathered from family members or friends but only information provided by the official sources, a ruling that has become a precedent for similar actions in other regions.


Because people know about funerals and are prepared to talk to journalists about them, the journalists can come up with far more accurate and frequent assessments of combat losses than they can if they are forced to rely on official announcements. Since Putin’s war in Ukraine began, those have been infrequent and fragmentary (

What this means, Yekaterina Vasyukova of The New Times says, is that “certain information even from official sources has been identified as a state secret, for example, data about soldiers who have died.” Any journalist who uses it is thus at risk of being tried and sentenced for discrediting the Russian military.

And that in turn means, she continues, that the veil of military secrecy has been thrown over information that otherwise could be relatively easily gathered and disseminated and that journalists especially in the regions now have to worry about being punished for doing what is after all their jobs.

Some may continue to act as they have but most are likely to change course, effectively shutting off as the Kremlin obviously intends a source of information on which many Russians and even more people abroad have relied to make assessments about the true costs of Putin’s war in Ukraine.


Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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