On Wednesday, July 13, the Russian media outlet Verska published a journalist’s investigation conducted into the Russian Red Cross’ (RRC) activities.

The investigation revealed that pro-Russian merchandise, including coffee mugs with President Putin’s face and the letter Z, have allegedly been handed out by the RRC to refugees.

Valentina, a volunteer from Tver, Russia, reported that when helping Ukrainians sort out the humanitarian aid they received from the Red Cross, he found that they had been given the mugs along with pro-Putin T-shirts.

In addition, the regional branches of the RRC are allegedly collecting assistance for Russian military personnel and inviting civilian men to participate in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

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On the Russian social network VKontakte, the chairman of the RRC Kirov regional branch, Yuriy Basmanov, posted an announcement from the Combat Brotherhood, inviting civilians to enlist into the Kirov battalion. The post, riddled with Russian propaganda, also says that the Russian Armed Forces “are going through difficult tests in a special military operation to protect the population of the republics of Donbas, denazification, and demilitarization of criminal Nazi formations on the territory of Ukraine.”

Basmanov stated:

“I fully support Russia’s actions in Donbas. We have been waiting for them since 2014. Our Vyatka volunteers then went to defend the southeast of Ukraine from the Nazis, who brutally killed civilians.”

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The RRC is associated with the office of the first deputy of Putin’s administration, despite the organization’s own policy dictating that it must remain independent and not affiliated to any political party or regime.

The RRC remains a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It also includes the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, contrary to common misconception, these organizations are separate, and neither is subordinate to the other.

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One of the points of the Charter of the International Red Cross states that the National Red Cross Societies cannot be controlled by the state and must maintain independence – financial and personnel.

From April of last year, the organization is headed by 28-year-old Pavel Savchuk. Before heading the Russian Red Cross, Savchuk worked as the senior coordinator of the All-Russian Volunteer Corps Pobeda 70 – an agency that is part of the Ministry of Education and Science, but is politically supervised by Russia’s presidential administration.

The charter of the International Red Cross also prohibits organizations from being involved in ‘taking sides’ during military conflicts.

The International Committee of the Red Cross press service commented that if members of the RRC demonstrate their political views in any way, other organizations cannot do anything about it since the relations between the members of the movement are horizontal.

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