All Russian Military Deaths Are Now State Secrets

Putin amends law amid worries about a new Ukraine push
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2015 12:57 PM CDT
A Russia-backed rebel aims a machine gun on the outskirts of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

(Newser) – Well, isn't that curious: Vladimir Putin has just decreed that all Russian military deaths are state secrets—even those that occur when war hasn't been declared, reports the Guardian. Previously, only deaths that occurred during official wars were considered secret, and the Kremlin insists the change is just a mundane bit of bookkeeping, and there's no reason—(cough) Ukraine (cough)—to think otherwise. Those who mention the deaths of Russian soldiers now face seven years in jail.

The backdrop, of course, is that Russia swears it's not sending soldiers into Ukraine, and it says that the many, many Russian troops that have shown up there have gone as volunteers on their own time, not as part of a military mission. The Washington Post zeros in on a possible reason for the upgraded secrecy law: The Kremlin may be able to shrug off concerns from the West, but "if there was one weak spot in Russian support for the Kremlin's aims in Ukraine this year, it was the population's strong aversion to sending in Russian troops." The law will help silence any criticism, raising the possibility that a new military push is imminent.

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