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Grigory Pasko: When Rusian Soldiers Pose as Journalists

A few weeks ago Russian television viewers were treated to a live broadcast of a visit to the Chebarkul training ground in the Chelyabinskii Region by none other than the Minister of Defence Anatoliy Serdyukov and President and Supreme Commander Dmitry Medvedev.  In addition to a simple photo op of the two men inspecting the troops, a counter-terrorism action was ordered and performed before the cameras.  Special forces disguised as journalists and doctors (!) stormed a home, in which ‘militants’ were hiding out. A woman in a white robe first pulled the robe off herself and then pulled a pin out of a grenade. And then she hurled the grenade through the window of the home (and perhaps the robe too- the ‘militants’ would have been so surprised they would have thrown in the towel without a fight.)  It was not unlike a bad action movie.

It all ended well. The ‘militants’ were destroyed, and they received distinguished awards from the very hand of the Supreme Commander himself.

I’m not talking about fake trainees here. I’m talking about international agreements, namely the Hague and Geneva conventions which expressly forbid, during hostilities, the participation of non-combatants (non-fighting) journalists, medics, priests, quarter-masters, lawyers…. Their use equates to the “unlawful method of the conduct of war.” Just as journalists are forbidden to take up arms, soldiers are forbidden from pretending to be journalists. There are some famous cases, where terrorists disguised themselves as journalists……

But as for the opposite? I’ve never heard or seen the like. And during the period of my service, I never saw that move. Perhaps, the field manual has changed that much? Perhaps, the Chekists have introduced their methods into military practice?

In a real situation such a ‘circus’ can lead to only one thing: journalists and medics will be shot on the outskirts of military action and conflict zones. What we have is a typical provocation of the peaceful professions.

People have raised their objections to me saying that antiterrorist operations are not actually military actions per se. That is, that a campaign of the use of force by a government does not fall under the Geneva conventions. Right. But in that case, this circus must be provided for by internal laws at the very least. For example, by the law of ‘The fight against terrorism’. I’ve reread them and there is not one word that says that as camouflage, one can use white robes with red crosses and/or gilets with ‘ PRESS’ written on them.

It seems to me that all this, these pure KGB tactics do not conform with either Russian or international legal instruments.