Why Russia is putting families of killed soldiers under surveillance
- The latest revelation echoes previous crackdown efforts by Russia
- Russia had passed legislation imposing a jail term for sharing "fake" news about the army
- The law has been used to crack down on those who stand against Putin's war
The Ukrainian military intelligence said Sunday that Russia has been surveilling the families of soldiers killed while fighting Vladimir Putin's war over concerns they would voice public opposition to the ongoing conflict.
Ukraine's military intelligence directorate said Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) for the western Kostroma region requested monitoring of certain individuals who may be "prone to committing crimes."
Kremlin's principal security agency asked the head of the Vohomsk municipal district to provide background information on persons who may violate laws on "public dissemination of false information and actions to discredit the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and their participation in aggression against Ukraine," according to the report by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense.
"When collecting such information, special attention is paid to close relatives of servicemen who died on the territory of Ukraine or participated in the war."
The latest revelation echoes previous crackdown efforts including the criminalisation of war protesting and independent war reporting.
In March, Russia's parliament passed legislation imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading "fake" news about Russia's army. The law has been used to crack down on those who voice out against Putin's narrative of the war.
"When collecting such information, special attention is paid to close relatives of servicemen who died on the territory of Ukraine or participated in the war," Ukraine's military intelligence directorate said.
On Friday, Moscow municipal deputy Alexei Gorinov became the first person to receive a long-term sentence under the new laws. The 60-year-old was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony for criticizing what Putin calls a "special military operation." Gorinov will also be barred from holding public office for four years after his release.
In June, Russian politician and former candidate for the State Duma Mikhail Lobanov was detained for 15 days for "discrediting" the country's military on his social media networks. Lobanov was ordered to pay a fine of $637.
The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense also noted in its report on Sunday that Russia has intensified recruitment for private military companies due to "significant losses" in the war.
Previously, Newsweek reported that Russian prisoners in St. Petersburg were being offered freedom and money if they participate in the war. According to iStories – an independent investigative Russian language outlet, relatives of prisoners serving sentences in the city said that Wagner Group offered to pay $3,446, and an amnesty, for six months of "voluntary" service in the Donbas region—if the prisoners return alive.
Convicts serving sentences in IK-7 "Yablonevka" and IK-6 "Obukhovo" in St. Petersburg were also reportedly offered $85,873 compensation for their families in the event of death.