The Free Buryatia organization announced that around 150 Buryat soldiers who were serving in the Russian Army in occupied territories of Ukraine have resigned their positions and asked to be returned to Russia.

The spokesman indicated that the soldiers had been held by Russian authorities and threatened with criminal prosecution, however the soldiers refused to rethink their decision and repeated their requests to be sent home.

Russia has not commented on these allegations, however earlier reports had indicated that Russia’s losses in Ukraine were disproportionately made of ethnic minorities from Siberia, Russia. Radio Liberty had indicated, in the case of Astrakhan, though Kazakhs make up only 16% of the population, they account for over 80% of Russia military deaths from the region.

In an earlier interview with the Kyiv Post, Kimberly St Julian Varnon indicated that when she first heard these numbers, “I was not surprised when I heard the reports of Indigenous peoples and ethnic minority groups being the first ones sent to the front lines by Russia. I think of it in the context of empire and colonialism. In imperial Russian and European imperial history, empires always did the same thing. This is exactly what empires historically do – they send the colonial troops first. In the eyes of a colonial power, not all lives are equal. Some people are “more expendable” than others and that is why we see that the “other Russians” are the ones that the Russian military sends in first and worries less if they get killed.”

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Aleksandra Garmazhapova, the leader of a pro-Buryat organization was quoted as saying that the soldiers “saved their own and others’ lives.” “You don’t have to fight for the ambitions of Putin, who, while you are dying, eats well, sleeps soundly and builds himself another golden palace,” she implored.

This past June, a number of activists in Buryatia had reached out to their regional leaders in vain for help in returning their kin to Russia.

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