A 20-year-old Russian conscript has reportedly committed suicide at his military base to avoid being sent to Ukraine to take part in the war.
Sergei Gridin was found hanged earlier this month in his base outside Moscow by fellow service members—who managed to snap a photo of the suicide note he left before commanders arrived and swept the whole incident under the rug, according to multiple reports.
The independent outlet Siren reports that Gridin’s family confirmed his suicide and the contents of his note. His death came shortly after he said he’d been told he was being sent to the battlefield in Ukraine.
“I don’t want to submit to people who inspire nothing but fear and disgust. You didn’t manage to break me and you already never will. That’s why I decided to die here on native land without others’ blood on my hands,” Gridin wrote in the letter.
Of his commanders, he said: “I would like them to be imprisoned for driving a person to suicide, but in Russia that is not practiced.”
Gridin said he’d made clear to commanders he wouldn’t join the war in Ukraine but they reacted by tormenting him.
His family said they had seen signs of a beating on the 20-year-old’s body, though the death certificate made no mention of any such findings. They said military brass gave them no cause of death and didn’t inform them of the suicide note, which they later found out about from other service members.
Gridin’s commanders reportedly confiscated the note at the scene and tried to keep its contents under wraps, as there was also no mention of it in official documents about the investigation into the young conscript’s death.
He is not the first and probably not the last to take his own life as the Kremlin’s war machine plows ahead in search of fresh cannon fodder. The BBC’s Russian Service reported earlier this week that at least eight Russian draftees have committed suicide before they could be sent to the front line.
The Kremlin repeatedly promised at the start of the war that it would not send conscripts to Ukraine, but the defense ministry was then forced to admit to the practice a short time later, leaving Vladimir Putin humiliated and vowing punishment for military officials.
Numerous reports have emerged in independent media about young conscripts, many of whom are students, being tricked into going to the front line under false pretenses. All Russian men aged 18-27 are required by law to register for conscription, but they are not considered professional troops and are prohibited from being deployed to war zones without at least four months of training.
Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion last year, the Kremlin has tried but failed to suppress protests from both conscripts and those called up under Putin’s “partial mobilization order.”
But they’re still trying to keep the growing discontent under wraps.
Just this week, two draftees in the Samara region were arrested for “discrediting” the army after they released a video appeal urging Putin and the defense ministry to “do something” about the chaos in their ranks.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.