- More than 100 members of Russia’s Rosgvardia were fired for disobeying orders to fight in Ukraine.
- They filed a class action lawsuit to challenge their dismissal as illegal, but it was dismissed.
- Their lawyer said their commanders had been given the choice not to fight, according to The Guardian.
According to multiple media reports, more than 100 soldiers of the Russian National Guard have been fired for not following orders to fight in Ukraine.
The 115 members of the National Guard were part of the Rosgvardia, a separate military force often used by the Kremlin as an internal security force against terrorism and to quell dissent, The Guardian reported.
The dismissal of the 115 guards surfaced on May 25 after a Russian military court dismissed their lawsuit to challenge their dismissal. In a decision posted online last week, the judge ruled that the soldiers had been properly fired.
The soldiers “refused to carry out an official order” and had returned to a service post instead of carrying out their orders in Ukraine, the court said, according to The Guardian.
Russia held the hearing behind closed doors to prevent “military secrets” from leaking, independent local outlet The Moscow Times reported.
Andrei Sabinin, the lawyer representing the 115 soldiers, told The Guardian that the National Guard was not allowed to call certain witnesses and documents were rejected by the court.
He also said their Rosgvardia commanders’ men had been given the choice not to fight, making their dismissal illegal.
This is not the first time members of the Rosgvardia have been punished for refusing to join the war in Ukraine. In a separate case in March, 12 national guards were fired for the same reason.
According to Reuters, the 12 men said they had no passports and feared they would be doing something illegal in Ukraine.
The Rosgvardia is often referred to as President Vladimir Putin’s “private army” because they were created in 2016 to serve the Russian leader as something akin to the Praetorian Guard of the ancient Roman Empire.
That year, The Moscow Times reported that their numbers had risen to 340,000 across 84 units, citing the claims of National Guard leader Viktor Zolotov. The force has previously been used to enforce the pandemic restrictions of COVID-19.
The National Guard’s refusal to fight fits in with a consistent pattern of reports that Russian troops have had low morale since the early weeks of the war in Ukraine. Some Russian soldiers reportedly did not know they would be fighting in Ukraine or why Russia had invaded Ukraine, according to their families and images from Ukraine.