This middle-aged woman looks exactly the same as everyone else who is struggling right now with ice in winter Helsinki. But she — Chairman of the Russian veteran organization “the Forgotten regiment”, it owns materials which can cause a political explosion. A few days ago, she asked for asylum in Finland.
She now lives in a refugee center in Helsinki, together with the Iraqis and the Syrians.
“All right, three meals a day, eat fruits, coffee and tea.”
Elena Vasilieva came here to finish their work and to prove that Russian soldiers are fighting in Ukraine, after which it will transfer its materials to the international court in the Hague.
She says that in Russia it is wanted and the military, and the security service, the FSB, in addition, she may face two trials.
Actually, she’s a historian and used to live in Murmansk, where for many years engaged in environmental issues.
Over time, Elena Vasilieva became interested in the protection of human rights and, since 2005, worked together with Garry Kasparov, Russian chess player with a world name and the opposition.
She was personally acquainted and collaborated with slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov just about those materials, which are now caught in Finland.
Apparently, Elena Vasilieva — the only female Chairman of the Russian military organization. “The forgotten regiment” has helped many victims of the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
For example, the organization assisted with operations, produced prostheses for those who lost arms and legs. Over time, Elena Vasilieva became known in Russia.
“When the war started in Ukraine, at first I thought: how many will be injured! Then I started to feel sorry for mothers. They were deceived and deceiving. Sometimes someone contacted me who had heard nothing about his son in the army for a long time, say a year. They may have said that he was on a secret mission, and in fact he died in the Donbas.”
The secret of secrets
Elena Vasileva along with his volunteers built the list of Russian soldiers, mercenaries and volunteers, who died or went missing in the war in the East of Ukraine. In this list, which is constantly updated, now more 3120 names.
According to Elena Vasilyeva, the list is proof that Russian soldiers are fighting in Ukraine, that is, it confirms that the President of Russia Vladimir Putin is lying. And taking notes on the dead and wounded, Elena Vasilieva is breaking the law.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014 has issued a decree according to which it is forbidden to collect data on losses among the soldiers in peacetime, says Elena Vasilieva.
This top-secret information it is best not to be, but first and foremost it should not come to the surface, she continues.
Her blog is banned in Russia, and her account on Facebook is regularly blocked.
“President Putin and the Ministry of defence said that no Russian military in the Donbass no. They are not, period. In fact, they were there the whole time. Some, of course, it’s really not, because they have turned into humus,” — says Elena Vasilieva.
President Putin reformed the army, she continues. But not in the sense that we got a bunch of new weapons and troops, said Elena Vasileva, and that the army is now engaged in sabotage and terrorism.
“We saw it in Crimea and we see in Donbass. We are talking about political destabilization. Mindful about how Putin behaves on the world stage, Finland, a neighbouring country, it is necessary to look very carefully at what is actually involved in the Russia” — she adds.
It is very difficult to obtain accurate information about how many Russian soldiers are in Eastern Ukraine. Endogamy Katri (Katri Pynnöniemi), senior researcher at the foreign policy Institute, says that it is difficult to know it exactly, but a long list of the dead, of course, is well illustrated by the scale and tragedy of war.
Currently, it is possible to speak about the armed groups under the leadership of Russian in the region, said Pindorama. This means that the command often Russian and that Russian be brought to the area of ammunition. That’s one of the reasons why the conflict continues.
Armed groups in the East of Ukraine could not continue without Russian support, and the so-called fictional Republic would be unable to exist without direct and indirect assistance from Russia, says Katri Endogamy.
According to calculations of the Ukrainian Ministry of defense in January in the East of Ukraine there were about five thousand Russian military, which is one-eighth part of all fighting against the Ukrainian armed forces.
The Ukrainian security service SBU on its part confirmed in March last year, which was 1.6 thousand Russian soldiers from 26 different formations of the Russian army were killed on the Ukrainian territory. Nevertheless, these data, according to the SBU, incomplete.
List of Elena Vasilyeva and code name “Cargo 200”
Elena Vasilieva and her group of volunteers are counting the victims. The code name of the transport carrying the bodies from Eastern Ukraine to Russia, — “Cargo 200”.
On Facebook there is a page with the same name, and it is constantly updated. Trucks marked “Cargo 200” is usually going to Rostov, and from there families somehow pick up the remains home.
The list is divided into six parts. In the first part currently made 977 Russian soldiers, mercenaries and volunteers, whose death was confirmed, and the names and place of residence is known to Elena Vasilyeva.
The second part introduced the victims for which information is incomplete, but, in all likelihood, they are also Russian. Often they are listed under their so-called battle names.
Many take their aliases. This can be the name of the animal, e.g., cat. Some victims wanted to be called a Bulldozer, Cold, angel, Stradivarius or Dead.
The third part of the list is dedicated to those who went missing. It is known that they are Russian, because they are asked close, but Elena Vasilieva they have not yet found.
“Recently we have cleaned out the ten names because I find these men among the prisoners in Ukraine”, — says Elena Vasilieva.
“But disappear without a trace not only the soldiers, she continues seriously. — We also know that in the Donbass lost a lot of young people. Young girls and boys from 16 years and older just disappear.”
In the fourth part of the list includes the dead separatists and mercenaries, whose nationality is unclear. According to Olena Vasilyeva, in the East of Ukraine are fighting the Georgians, the British and the Czechs, but the majority of foreigners — from Belarus.
In the list of Yelena Vasilyeva no Finns or Swedes. But there was one Norwegian who is now serving his sentence at home.
The last two of the list include dead doctors and journalists.
We have data about more than three thousand missing or dead, Vasilyev said, adding that the real figure is probably much higher.
If so, then the loss is greater than it was in the first years of the war in Afghanistan.
For example, the well-known publication Forbes reported on the number of issued military awards and have drawn the same conclusions about the presence of Russian soldiers in Eastern Ukraine, and Elena Vasilyeva.
Despite the decree, which prohibits the collection of information, Elena Vasilieva relentlessly continues to search for evidence and various data. The information comes from volunteers and civil, but most of all, from the military itself. They say that they survived, who died, who is missing.
First there was maps, which were highlighted Ukrainian village, which had to be destroyed. That lived there civil, elderly, families with children, is not mentioned. Many in the army were themselves in the dark, says Elena Vasilieva.
“The Russian military could bomb the village, kill the children, — says Elena Vasilieva. — Then came the representatives of Russia and offered humanitarian aid. This is the height of cynicism”.
To collect these data — a Herculean task. Detective work — a comparison of the names of those who were missing and those found dead or alive. But many of the soldiers like to be photographed and uploaded to the Internet.
Thanks Elena Vasilieva and her volunteers many can identify with.
Now in the Donbass fierce fighting.
“Just a day ago, for example, there was a fight in which, as we understand from Twitter that killed two Ukrainians and eight Russian. Then usually held a few days before we through social networks know that somewhere in the family begins to raise money to bring the body home for the funeral, and perhaps at the monument. Then we match the data and get a name.”
Lonely mountain women
On a meagre pension Elena Vasilieva drags the project for three years. After all, someone has to tell about all that, she says. People have a right to know loved ones have a right to know. And the fallen have a right to the grave.
But since all is a mystery, friends of the victims suffer alone.
“Loved ones often do not know anything, they ask us. Mom or wife can contact me and ask: Elena, you know something? How did he die? What happened? He was in pain?”
“I’m a parent myself. I understand. When a child dies, a mother’s heart dies too, — says Elena Vasilieva. This is very difficult”.