Russian MoD Confirms Death of Contract Soldier In Syria After Reports Deleted from Local Russian Press

June 16, 2016
Mikhail Shirokopoyas, deputy commander of a platoon of Russia's 35th Army, who died of his wounds in Syria June 7 2016. Photo by Amir GKTV

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Russian MoD Confirms Death of Contract Soldier In Syria After Reports Deleted from Local Russian Press

Regional news outlets have removed a report of a death of a Russian soldier who served in Syria, reports.

A link to the story on the site of the Amur GTRK (State Television and Radio Committee) is now showing a 404 error page.

The Google-cached version shows a picture of the soldier and a story of how he died.

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2016-06-16 19:28:11

The soldier killed is said to have been artillerist Mikhail Shirokopoyas, age 35, from the village of Seryshevo, who reportedly served in the 35th Army and was wounded in Syria.
Shirokopoyas, a contract soldier with the rank of junior sergeant, was sent into combat in April and within a month sustained a deadly wound when he stepped on a mine. His father, Gennady Shirokopoyas, told Amu  (translation by The Interpreter):

“He was brought from Moscow on an IL-76. He was met with all the military honors, with a guard of likely about 80 people. Well, and then at 2:00 pm he was brought to his father’s home. There was everything: both the honor guard,  standing near the coffin, and the music, and the requiem was sung. I have only one complaint against the army — I don’t have my son.”

A news story at was also removed.

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2016-06-16 19:30:22

That story can also be found in Google cache, and said that Shirokopoyas was deputy commander of his platoon and was buried on June 11. He leaves behind a wife and 13-year-old daughter.
His wife told that her husband had left in April on a mission for three months. Within the first month, in May, he was injured in a mine explosion. Syrian doctors operated on him and then he was brought to Moscow for further treatment, but was unable to be saved and died on June 7. She said that in telephone calls with her husband, he said he could not reveal his location in Syria, but that he expected to take a vacation in August. said that the 35th Army told them to go to the Defense Ministry with inquiries, but there, the Russian military did not confirm the death. 
In 2015, President Vladimir Putin decreed that the deaths of military abroad could not be reported in the interests of national security, and the Russian Constitutional Court later upheld the decree.

Slon says the stories in the local media were removed today after national media began to pick them up. By official recognition, 9 soldiers have been acknowledged as killed in Syria.

Since then, Sputnik International, the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda outlet has confirmed the report that Shirokopoyas was killed in action and has already been buried. The Defense Ministry said he was critically wounded in an attack on a Russian-Syria reconciliation center column in Aleppo, and was awarded the Order of Courage.

That version of the story differs from the local press, but it could be a function of the Russian word mina, which can be understood as either a mine or a mortar. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick