Conscript who made public appeal for Putin to end war sent to ‘punishment pit’

A Russian conscript who publicly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to order a rotation of soldiers at the front and to end hostilities in Ukraine last month has been placed in a “punishment pit”, independent Russian news outlet iStories reported on Tuesday.

Activists from the demobilisation pressure group The Way Home told iStories that Alexander Shpilevoy, a 27-year-old conscript from the central Russian city of Voronezh, had been sent to a punishment pit for soldiers in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region of Ukraine.

“Sasha is alive, thank God, but in a difficult situation. They’ve taken his phone off him. He’s being held somewhere. We have no contact. They’ve put him in a pit,” a relative of Shpilevoy’s told Telegram channel ASTRA.

Shpilevoy broadcast his video message to Putin on 19 December. “What do most conscripts want? Peace or a continuation of hostilities? Peace, without a doubt,” he said in his video. “Conscripts who don’t yet have children want to have a family, live a long, peaceful, happy life. But our president won’t allow it”.

Shpilevoy’s relatives said they lost contact with him when he returned to his unit from leave at the end of December. On Sunday, Telegram channel Diary of a Cossack reported that Shpilevoy had been placed in a punishment pit.

Before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Shpilevoy worked as a freight-handler in Voronezh and wrote a sports blog. He was called up in October 2022 and has now spent a year and a half at the front.

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