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Russian newspaper publishes nearly 10,000 death toll of their soldiers — then deletes after

By dpa, South China Morning Post

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The Russian Komsomolskaya pravda newspaper briefly published a figure indicating a Russian death toll of nearly 10,000 soldiers from the fighting in Europe — then quickly deleted the information.

MOSCOW — The pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda briefly published a high number of Russian soldiers thought to be killed in Ukraine, before deleting the information.

An online report on Sunday citing the Ministry of Defence reported that 9,861 Russian soldiers had died and 16,153 injured since the beginning of the war, as an archived version circulated on Monday showed.

The bodies of dead Russian soldiers are collected in a refrigerator car at the Voznesensk railway station in Ukraine on March 16.

That would be significantly higher than the 498 dead that Moscow has officially confirmed so far.

A few hours later, however, the corresponding passage from the Komsomolskaya Pravda article disappeared again. There was initially no statement from the newspaper on the report.

Various media and other observers were puzzling over the meaning of the article on, with some pointing out that no information on killed Russians had been given in the Defence Ministry briefing on Sunday.

Journalist Yaroslav Trofimov of The Wall Street Journal wrote on Twitter: “Either [the newspaper’s website] KP.ru has been hacked or someone there got the leaked numbers and posted them.”

The briefly reported toll in Ukraine, if accurate, would mean almost 10,000 Russian soldiers killed in less than one month. In its war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Soviet army lost some 15,000 soldiers over the space of nine years.

More than a dozen Russian generals and commanders have been reported killed in Ukraine by officials from Ukraine and other countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged the death of one general, and Nato officials have confirmed the deaths of several others.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meanwhile said Sunday some 14,000 Russians have died since the invasion of his country began. None of the figures on troop deaths could be confirmed.

A recent US intelligence estimate placed the Russian death toll in Ukraine at roughly 7,000.

Russia has closely monitored media coverage of the conflict since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, which it officially calls only a “special operation”.

Russia’s media regulator announced on Monday the pages of the European television channel Euronews were the latest to be blocked amid a crackdown on media coverage.

The Tass news agency reported that the reason for the ban was Euronews’ “misinformation” about Moscow’s so-called “special operation” in Ukraine.

The decision by the Prosecutor General’s Office also affects the channel’s Russian-language offering, the Roskomnadzor media authority announced.

Moscow introduced a new media law in early March that imposes drastic penalties for what it describes as misinformation about Russian forces.

The Euronews ban comes after Moscow blocked Facebook and Instagram earlier on Monday following a Russian court decision declaring them “extremist” organisations.

The two services are already blocked in Russia; the messenger service WhatsApp, which also belongs to the US group Meta, is not affected by the ruling, according to the court.

The move comes after Meta refused to remove calls for violence against Russian troops in Ukraine. Twitter is also currently blocked in Russia. — South China Morning Post

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