Sergeant of the 61st Marine Brigade Vadim Mezentsev. Photo from personal archive

“Maybe he would be dead already, but it wouldn’t be so disgusting.” Instead of treatment, wounded soldiers from Ukraine war are forced back to the front or persecuted for refusing to fight

Military doctors refuse to diagnose serious injuries among soldiers wounded in Ukraine while their commanders demand that they continue to serve, despite their poor physical condition. The Barents Observer tells the stories of two fighters from the Murmansk region who are now in hospital while their wives are trying to save their husbands from war and criminal prosecution.
November 24, 2023


“My husband has a brain disease and no one cares. He suffered a concussion and stayed there; they refused to conduct an investigation upon arrival. They forged the report on his behalf and are now trying to send the sick person to another place. They have already driven the man to a psychiatric hospital. You feel hurt for all the guys, that’s the “respect.”

Kandalaksha resident Alina Volkova left this comment on the page of the governor of the Murmansk region, Andrei Chibis. She’s talking about Northern Fleet Marine Sergeant Roman Volkov. The man fought in Ukraine where he was wounded by a mine explosion, after which his condition irreversibly deteriorated. She writes about this in a petition posted on her personal page.

“The headaches would not go away, he had high blood pressure and tinnitus. Doctors said that this was normal for a grenade launcher. The prescribed treatment was of no particular use,” her petition reads.

In May 2023, Volkov, who was undergoing treatment at his military unit in Alakurtti, was called in by the acting brigade commander.

“He told him that he was going to the zone of the SVO (special military operation), despite his pains, because the medical officer said he was healthy! The husband wrote a report that he refused to go on a tour in this condition. After that, the most interesting things began,” says Alina Volkova in her petition.


Roman Volkov. Photo from the page of his wife Alina Volkova



She claims that the military did not want to organize a medical review for her husband. They only managed to make it happen through the court. After the medical examination Volkov was assigned category “B” (limited fitness for military service). But his commanders kept trying to send the man to the front, and then transferred him to another unit, to Simferopol in occupied Crimea.

Volkova says that her husband was unable to resign for health reasons – his resignation papers were not accepted. He was never diagnosed with shell shock. According to the law, this type of injury implies a large compensation payment. However, he was diagnosed with many other diseases related to the brain. Sergeant Volkov never received full assistance in the hospital.

Alina Volkova spoke with The Barents Observer and told some details of what happened to her husband. In particular, she explained why he is now in a psychiatric hospital. The woman then refused to have her words published. However, both the petition and the comments she leaves on social media are in the public domain. For example, in the group “Soldatskaya Pravda” (Soldiers’ Truth), she comments on the news that a soldier from Alakurtti has gone missing in Ukraine and she does not mince her words.

They ruined my husband’s and my life completely, I hate them, I have never felt so hateful. If I were the wives of such commanders, I would run away, just not to feel the shame of the fact that my husband is a murderer… My husband will not be the same. If he survives, it will be happiness. I pray for him and don’t give up.”

The status on Alina Volkova’s page reads: “The law is not always fair, and justice is not always legal.” She follows social media groups which praise the Wagner PMC and makes posts with “Wagnerites” and war songs.

“Why do some strangers have the right to destroy my family?”

Roman Volkov’s case is not the only one. The Volgograd-based “Committee of Military Lawyers” claims that they have many similar complaints from military personnel: the military will not diagnose them with “shell shock” so as not to pay the due compensation. Consequently, these people do not receive the necessary treatment. Potentially, they may also be sent back to war.

Not all victims are ready to make their stories public. Kristina Mezentseva from Zapolyarny in the Murmansk region stands out sharply in that respect. She is too now fighting for her husband, Sergeant Vadim Mezentsev of the 61st Kirkenes Marine Brigade, who was wounded in Ukraine and is now in the hospital while his comrades-in-arms search for him.

Mezentseva also published a petition in which she spoke about her husband’s ordeals. He was wounded in Ukraine in early June last year: he came under artillery fire in which he lost two comrades and received shrapnel wounds to the head, chest and right shoulder. The fragments that entered the soldier’s body were not removed – the doctors explained that the surgery was too dangerous.

“Acute reaction to stress, tinnitus, secondary headaches, post-concussion syndrome, chronic pain syndrome, depressive disorder, stuttering, poor sleep, irritability, high blood pressure” – this is how Mezentsev’s condition is described in medical documents (BO has a copy). The man also suffered a serious knee injury — his meniscus was torn. In June, he suffered a stroke and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

Despite all this, his commanders have repeatedly tried to send Mezentsev to war. The responses to the complaints written by the soldier and his wife state that his diseases “do not prevent from performing military service duties.” In the military unit, the soldier was mocked – they insulted him and reproached him for cowardice, says Kristina Mezentseva in her petition.


Vadim Mezentsev. Photo from personal archive


Now Vadim Mezentsev is in one of the cities of central Russia. The man is being treated in a medical facility, which Christina would not name for safety reasons. She says representatives of the Northern Fleet tried to locate Mezentsev in this city. Kristina claims she knows the names of everyone who took part in this. At the same time, the commanders send letters to the soldier’s mother, threatening Mezentsev with criminal prosecution for evading service.

Kristina Mezentseva says her family “has been an example of patriotism for ten years.” While her husband served and went on tours to Syria, she worked at school as a teacher of the Russian language and literature. Now she feels the urge to go back to school as she misses her students.

“I attended all patriotic events with my students. I love my Motherland, but I don’t think that you need to go so crazy from a feeling of great patriotism that you go somewhere for someone in a half-dead state,” explained Kristina Mezentseva in an interview with The Barents Observer. “I don’t understand at all why I, a wife, was separated from my husband? Why can’t my child and I see him around? Why do some strangers have the right to destroy my family, why does he belong to someone, but not to my daughter and me? I don’t know what they have done to him now: what kind of person will come back to live with us?

Kristina Mezentseva believes that they way her husband views life has changed a lot: the indifference and callousness of his colleagues opened his eyes to many things.

    His internal assessment has turned upside down. He doesn’t understand why the people for whom he was ready to sacrifice his life don’t need him now. How could you go through so much, fight for these people, who then spat in your face. Maybe he would already be dead, and would have died somewhere for them, but it wouldn’t be so disgusting and hurtful deep inside.”

 In 2020, Kristina Mezentseva tried to run for municipal council in the Pechenga District of the Murmansk region from the United Russia party. Even now she does not give up her political convictions, believing that it is people on the ground – commanders and officials – who are to blame for her husband’s problems.

“For some reason it is impossible to get through with your papers to higher authorities. On Andrei Malakhov’s talk show, they show the heroes of the Special Military Operation, but what’s wrong with my husband? But the show won’t take up our story. We call the “Man and the Law” show and again – “we don’t deal with such situations.” Sometimes you just snap and want to scold someone. It is clear that people on top, perhaps, allow [lawlessness], but it seems to me that they don’t know the details. After all, our country is legal, so everyone must respect rights and laws.”

Kristina fears persecution for discrediting the army, but, on the other hand, she believes that she is not violating any Russian law.

“The problem here is specific individuals who need to be removed. I’ve chosen this path because there is nothing else left for me. Yes, I’m very afraid. And my husband understands that all this will have consequences, that these people will not leave us alone. And this is an example for those guys who may not have a wife like me.”





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