Russian mother begs Putin to find soldier son: “They took him somewhere”

A video posted on social media on Tuesday shows a mother pleading with Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide her with information about her soldier son, who she was told had been killed while fighting in the war in Ukraine.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of Internal Affairs, shared the video—which has not been independently verified by Newsweek—with English subtitles to his Twitter account on Tuesday.

The woman began the video by personally addressing Putin before giving out her 20-year-old son’s name and his birth date. She said he had been mobilized from the Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk in September 2022 and had been fighting for Russia in its war against Ukraine since that time. On July 18, she said she received a phone call from his unit informing her he had been killed two days earlier.

Since that time, “we have already heard three different stories about our son’s death,” the mother said, per Gerashchenko’s translation. “That is as if they took him, but it is unknown where they took him.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Russia-Africa summit on July 27, 2023, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. A mother pleaded with Putin in a video to help find her son who was reportedly killed while fighting in Ukraine.

The woman goes on to say that she currently does not have any contact with her son’s unit and that her ex-husband had been told by the unit’s commander that there had been an incident in which “equipment was blown up,” resulting in the deaths of a captain and their son.

However, the commander conceded, according to the mother’s video statement, that he couldn’t confirm the young man’s death “100 percent, as he didn’t see it.”

She said she contacted the enlistment office in Nizhnevartovsk for more information and was told they would contact the unit.

“The military enlistment officer allegedly contacted the unit, and there is no official information about the death of our son,” she said.

The mother said she wrote to the president’s office, the military prosecutor’s office and deputies in Nizhnevartovsk to request that she wants her son’s body if he is dead.

“If our son was killed, I ask you to return his body to me, so that I could mourn him as a mother,” she said, and added that she has not received a reply from any of the offices she wrote and that phone calls she made to officials have gone unanswered.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense via email for comment.

“So my 20-year-son is in the middle of nowhere,” the mother said, per Gerashchenko. “I mean, they took him away. And they can’t give back the information about where he is. I just can’t understand it.”

She continued, “If his servicemen put him in a car and took him away…They took him somewhere. What can’t anyone give us an answer?”

The mother concluded by again appealing to Putin for help, saying that since he’s the country’s commander-in-chief, he is “responsible for all these guys.”

In his post about the video, Gerashchenko wrote in the caption that the woman “still doesn’t know the truth and hopes the tsar (Putin) will help her—the same person who sent her son to die.”

On Wednesday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported Russia has lost 247,230 troops in Ukraine since Putin began the war in February 2022. The Kremlin does not frequently make its troop losses public, and Newsweek could not independently verify Ukraine’s tally.

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