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Anonymous Twitter Account Blows the Whistle on Wounded from Ukraine in Russian Military Hospital

A child goes into a captured armored vehicle that was exhibited in Kyiv as part of the proof of Russian military presence in Ukraine. Image by Geovien So at Demotix.

A child goes into a captured armored vehicle that was exhibited in Kyiv as part of the proof of Russian military presence in Ukraine. Image by Geovien So at Demotix.

An anonymous account on Twitter claiming to be a Russian soldier at a military hospital in a Russian town is providing undercover reports on the wounded brought from the frontlines in Ukraine.

The account, @ponimaem, started tweeting on Thursday, February 26. The bio says simply “ну вы же понимаете в какой стране живем?” (“You do understand what kind of country we live in?”) and the avatar features an anonymous person in a mask holding their finger to their lips, as if to underscore the anonymity of the author.

For over a month I've been a patient at a military hospital in one of Russia's towns, and I constantly hear talk of Donestk and Lugansk.

The anonymous soldier says he's using his hospital neighbor's laptop and a VPN connection to send the tweets. While the user doesn't have access to any papers of the wounded brought in, he has promised to provide more proof of being in the hospital.

I really am at a military hospital, where DNR and LNR fighters are being brought at night. [Image of sheets with typical military hospital insignia]

Although the soldier says he himself has only served inside Russia and never went to Ukraine, his rationale for making his observations public, he says, is to “exculpate some of the guilt” of being part of the “Russian world” fighting in Ukraine.

The user says wounded fighters are brought in every night, under cover of darkness, in secret. While he isn't sure in every case whether they're soldiers of the regular army, volunteers or mercenaries, @ponimaem writes the doctors always get to them last, usually after 9:00 p.m., and their arrival and treatment are always covert.

Every night 3-4 fighters for the “Russian world” are brought to our hospital in cars without any insignia.

Users’ reactions to the account have been mixed, with some praising the anonymous whistleblower's bravery, and others accusing him of treason. @ponimaem says he's aware of the danger of being found out, but feels like talking about the things he sees is something he has to do.

I understand very well that I can be accused of treason for these words, but better do this then look my children in the eye with shame later.

Being able to create and maintain anonymous accounts on social media remains a key guarantee of freedom of expression, especially in countries where free speech is under threat. Russia's recent suggestions of restricting access to anonymization and circumvention tools such as Tor, VPNs, and proxy-servers, as well as the Kremlin's continued pressure on Twitter to disclose user data put anonymous whistleblowers like @ponimaem under direct threat.

  • Storm Bringer

    Fake Ukrainians are good at it

  • Jake Turk

    Putin’s actually hospitalizing his wounded instead of just shooting them and shipping in more Chechen, Kalmyk, and Buryat cannon fodder? Wow. He must really be getting desperate. Cargo 200 is getting expensive these days.

    • Nondescript

      No reply to the actual comment just a bunch of ad-hominems.
      The Kremlin paid trolls ARE getting desperate!

      • Guest

        Trolls get paid if their comments have answers, otherwise nothing. Don’t feed trolls, then!
        As to fake news, visit: http://www.stopfake.org

    • Vladimir Impalerov

      Yeah, desperate, Russia simply can’t compete with the mighty Ukrainian army. Strongest army in Europe if to believe Poroshenko.

  • John H Newcomb

    Anonymous accounts important but how can the information presented be verified or confirmed as accurate? Something like: https://www.bellingcat.com/

  • Pingback: Russian soldier fighting in Ukraine is proud of Putin for deceiving the world | To Inform is to Influence()

  • Vladimir Impalerov

    Fake account created by Ruslan Leviev and the author off this article knows about it.

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