A Blog by Jonathan Low


Oct 31, 2022

Russian General Lapin Was Fired For Losing Lyman. Then Recruit Abuse Stories Emerged

The story of Colonel-General Lapin personifies the Russian military's leadership problems. 

In addition to abusive behavior, failures of tactical analysis and execution, some of the most senior officers in the army appear to be notoriously indifferent to their troops' treatment. They blame their underlings, as they are blamed by Putin for failures of his strategy. The result is Ukrainian defeat of the poorly led and unmotivated Russians. JL 

Elsa Buchanan reports in The Irish Sun and ChrisO reports in Twitter:

Chechen Warlord Ramzan Kadyrov accused Colonel-General Aleksandr Lapin of allowing Ukrainian forces to break through the front in what he described as a "surrender". (But) with the dismissal of Lapin as the commander of Russia's Central Military District, ugly stories are emerging about his treatment of mobilised soldiers. The men were not given combat training, then sent to Ukraine to defend a heavily contested section of the front line where they endured 7 hours of shelling before those still alive retreated. "Lapin put a gun to the head of Lieutenant [Vodnev], demanding we go back to the front, and threw insults at us. Vodnev was taken away by Lapin's bodyguards for 'correction'."

Lapin's removal came after he was heavily criticised by Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov twice in the past month over failures in Ukraine.

At the beginning of October he slammed the "talentless" general after Russian troops retreated from the eastern city of Lyman in the Donetsk region.

At the end of the month, Kadyrov accused Lapin of allowing Ukrainian forces to break through one part of the front in what he described as a "surrender".

Lapin was also slammed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the billionaire boss of the Wagner Group mercenaries who is known as "Putin's chef".

Hours after his sacking, Ukrainian news site Channel 24 reported Lapin's body had been found in the Moskva River, which runs through western Russia. The outlet then retracted the "false" report.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian local media quoted a source in the Ministry of Defence as saying that Lapin had taken a three-week holiday.

With the dismissal of Colonel-General Aleksandr Lapin as the commander of Russia's Central Military District, ugly stories are emerging about his treatment of mobilised soldiers. He's said to have put his pistol to the head of a lieutenant and threatened to shoot him.


Mediazona reports that on 13 October, Lapin violently confronted Lieutenant Dmitry Vodnev, who withdrew his company from shelling at the village of Kolomyichykha, near Svatove in Luhansk oblast. The back story has emerged from the account of another soldier published by SOTA.Like many other mobiks, Vodnev's men were not given a medical examination or combat training after being mobilised into the 423rd Yampolsky motorized rifle regiment around 22 September. They were given only 1 day's shooting practice at a military camp in Belgorod.


Only a few days later the men were sent to Ukraine to defend a heavily contested section of the front line near Kolomyychikha. The most recent reports as of 26 October indicate that the area is still the scene of heavy fighting and intense shelling.The Russians had grossly inadequate equipment – another man in the same unit, Nikita Pavlov, reported being given only a damaged, rusty AK-74M that could not be fired. They took shelter in a tractor hangar near Kolomyychikha, arriving on 7 October.


The men filmed their conditions on 11 October. A video shows them living in abject squalor without heat, light, food or water. They complain that they are all sick with respiratory complaints. Pavlov says they foraged from apple trees in the village.


Pavlov describes what subsequently happened: "In the afternoon, massive mortar fire started on us. Our 2nd platoon and 1st platoon lay down in the forest belt, 5th and 6th companies also lay down in the forest belt.As a result of two hours of shelling there were more than 4 killed and 3 wounded. Also after the shelling, the 5th and 6th companies fled to a school basement. A communications company and a KAMAZ [truck] loaded with ammunition and mines arrived. We ordered the communications company to lie down in the wooded area. The driver of the second KAMAZ, realising what was going on, quickly drove back. In the evening of that day fire began to fall on us. The commanders of the communications company ordered us to sit behind a hangar, and as a result of the two-hour bombardment, the second hangar was destroyed and an uncrewed BMP was destroyed.The next morning we came under heavy fire, which lasted more than four hours. The communications company scattered in panic during the shelling. As a result, more than 6 men were killed and more than 3 were wounded."


Pavlov's account is corroborated by a similar account from a soldier in another unit under the 15th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment, which held the second line behind the men of the 423rd Regiment. He was able to observe their fate under the Ukrainian bombardment."For seven hours they were there – from 12:00 to 19:00 – and bombed with mortars. The major ordered them, as they told me, to hold some hangar. They left there, another company came, and again the major said to occupy that hangar where the [Ukrainian] mortar was shelling. Brilliant stupidity of the commander! Then at 19:00 they started to retreat. We asked them, "Like, who are you, what are you, where are you coming from?"They replied], "The village is surrendered, there's hardly anyone there, those who survived are hiding in the basement in the school, tanks are coming now". Then there was an artillery bombardment and we followed them."The men were advised to leave by a professional soldier, a sergeant, who told them, "If you want to live, then go up the road. There are KAMAZ trucks and tanks there." They found only one tank, as all the officers had already left on the trucks, and walked to Svatove instead.


Several hours later, late at night, they reached a gas station at the entrance to Svatove – probably the АЗС station on the P07 road just west of the town. They were stopped by soldiers and prevented from going any further. The men were made to sleep on pavements in the open.Pavlov says that "Since there were no officers and commanders, we set ourselves the task of finding the headquarters and asking about further actions." The commander of the 5th company, Lieutenant Dmitry Vodnev, went to look for officers, but found only military policemen.The men were not allowed to enter Svatove. After Vodnev told the MPs about the retreat from Kolomyychikha, they informed Colonel General Lapin. He went to the gas station to berate the surviving men – who numbered around 50 – to try to force them to return to the front line.


Pavlov writes: "Colonel General Lapin put a gun to the head of Lieutenant [Vodnev], demanding we go back, and he also threw a lot of insults at us (traitors, deserters and a lot of swear words)." Vodnev was taken away by Lapin's bodyguards for 'correction'.According to Vodnev's father, the bodyguards "tied [Vodnev's] hands behind his back, took him somewhere and threw him face down on the ground – but did not beat him."His father says: "They began to threaten him, accuse him, they said that he should come back, and insulted him, [Lapin] said: "Damn you and your family." His assistants filmed with a phone, they said: “We will broadcast it all, show everyone in schools what you are ...”fter that, Pavlov says, "they brought [Vodnev] in again to convince us to go back to the front, but he said: "Guys, I can't do that." Again we were lined up [parade-style] at the gas station in front of the checkpoint in Svatove."And there they began telling us: 'You are deserters, you are traitors to the Motherland." Though they started with saying that we did everything right - we retreated, we saved our lives.


When they realised that we were not going to return to this place and just sit and wait for them to come, they started insulting us."A political officer named Colonel Rumyantsev also turned up to try to 'motivate' the men. "We asked: "At least give us something to eat and drink"," Pavlov writes. "To which Colonel Rumyantsev told us that people like us do not deserve to eat, drink or sleep."The 'remotivation' session ended abruptly when Lapin's bodyguards spotted a hovering drone. The officers left hastily, leaving the mobilised men under the control of two military police officers who were ordered to execute any man who stepped left or right out of the line.


They did not see Vodnev again; he was taken away back across the Russian border to be imprisoned at the commandant's office in Valuyki. He is reportedly facing possible charges of 'sabotaging military training'.The next morning, after another night which the men spent sleeping in the open air, "Colonel Rumyantsev arrived again in a state of alcoholic intoxication and started speaking in an abusive manner and verbally humiliating us, thus putting pressure on our psyche.Then in the afternoon he brought food and water. An hour later, Wagner PMC fighters came to us, and also started insulting us (calling us traitors, cowards, deserters)."The Wagnerites persuaded two of the 423rd Regiment men to sign up with them instead. The remainder were loaded onto two KAMAZs and driven to the Russian border near Belgorod, then taken to an army camp at Alekseevka. They were finally able to contact their relatives.


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