Pilot Alexander Railean: sometimes you can only survive without instructions

Weekly “Arguments and Facts” № 45. Apples in the snow and vegetables also 10/11/2021

He had already lost count of how many times he had watched the movie Only Old Men Go to Battle. But every time his battle-hardened commander's heart responds in a special way to the & nbsp; phrase of the hero of the picture: “ The most difficult thing in & nbsp; our work & nbsp; & ndash; wait & raquo;. & nbsp;

There are no airfields in the Afghan mountains. Any rock can become a landing site. Photo: From personal archive

Afghanistan in & nbsp; lately has densely occupied news feeds. And & nbsp; after all, for & nbsp; many of our compatriots, primarily for & nbsp; people in & nbsp; shoulder straps, this is not just a dot on the & nbsp; globe. This is the chapter of their life, when they had to go beyond the possible, when the words of Suvorov “ die yourself, and & nbsp; help your comrade '' ceased to be just a poster from the & nbsp; tutorial. When, as Hero of the Soviet Union, Honored Military Pilot Alexander Railean recalls, the “ spirits '' themselves admitted: “ Russian soldiers can fight in such a way that even enemies admire them. '' About & nbsp; this, about & nbsp; male friendship and & nbsp; about the most reliable technology in the & nbsp; world & nbsp; & ndash; in the & nbsp; story of the hero of that war, which even 30 years later does not let me forget about & nbsp; & nbsp;

'Pray that everyone will return'

“ On all my military missions, and & nbsp; there were more than ten, I & nbsp; went to & nbsp; quality & shy; ve commander. It happened that in & nbsp; subordination were up to & nbsp; 30 crews, & nbsp; & ndash; tells Alexander Raylyan. & nbsp; & ndash; And & nbsp; this is really the most difficult thing in & nbsp; our work & nbsp; & ndash; wait. You pray that everyone will return from the & nbsp; tasks. Yes, in & nbsp; Afghanistan, it was necessary to hold a helicopter on & nbsp; on one wheel, so as not to fall into an abyss, and & nbsp; at night to sit in & nbsp; complete unknown & nbsp; and & nbsp; to leave & nbsp; shelling, making such fortels in the sky & nbsp; you yourself wonder what our legendary Mi-8 is capable of. But risking yourself is easier than waiting for those who were sent to the & nbsp; task to return.

Railean's love for & nbsp; films about & nbsp; World War II & nbsp; & ndash; from & nbsp; childhood. In his small homeland in the Crimean region of the Krasnodar Territory, six military pilots from the & nbsp; famous aviation regiment “ Night Witches '', who fought and & nbsp; died in the & nbsp; sky above the village, where the future Hero of the Soviet Union was born in 1954, are buried. In their rural & nbsp; school, four boys, including Railean himself, decided to become pilots. All four have fulfilled their dream. All four of them had to go through hot spots. And & nbsp; all miraculously survived. & Nbsp;

“ My front-line father could tell a lot about the war, & nbsp; & ndash; says Alexander Maksimovich. & nbsp; & ndash; But Dad was stingy with stories. The only day in & nbsp; year when he remembered the past, & nbsp; & ndash; 9th May. Veterans gathered at our house. We guys were hiding under the & nbsp; table. I wanted to hear about the exploits, but they quickly escorted us out. Father and & nbsp; did not ask me when I & nbsp; for the first time from & nbsp; Afghanistan came home on & nbsp; vacation. He met my star of the hero with restraint: “ They were awarded, then, son. Well sit down. '' He was, of course, proud, like any father. But & nbsp; us and & nbsp; he understood that the star of the hero & nbsp; & ndash; this is the common merit of both & nbsp; subordinates, and & nbsp; commander. And & nbsp; my daddy, who is an example for & nbsp; me. & Nbsp;

Railean was in & nbsp; Afghanistan twice. During those two Afghan business trips & nbsp; Alexander Maksimovich, only one subordinate died & nbsp; & ndash; from & nbsp; direct hit of MANPADS “ Stinger '' into the helicopter. Behind our helicopters 'spirits' then they hunted purposefully, receiving a large cash bonus for the downed car.

Seconds decide everything

The first business trip to & nbsp; Afghanistan fell on & nbsp; 1983. Barely descending from the gangway to & nbsp; Afghan land, Alexander immediately received an order to fly around the “ emteshka '' (Mi-8MT), so that on & nbsp; the next day to go on & nbsp; this machine in & nbsp; its first combat flight. In the Union at that time there were very few such boards, the car was unfamiliar. But this did not prevent Captain Railean from sitting at the helm of the Mi-8MT in the morning as a slave commander. He & nbsp; immediately realized that in the & nbsp; war there is no time for & nbsp; buildup. Sometimes seconds decide everything. And & nbsp; the decisions you make may contradict the instructions: “ According to the documents, the helicopter flies OVER the mountains at night. We had to not only fly in the & nbsp; gorges, but also & nbsp; land there, and & nbsp; take off. Our combat experience has proven that the Mi-8 & nbsp; & ndash; the most reliable car in the & nbsp; world, & nbsp; & ndash; says Alexander Maksimovich. & nbsp; & ndash; You see, the one who follows all the instructions & nbsp; & ndash; good pilot. A & nbsp; best & nbsp; & ndash; who knows that he is violating, and & nbsp; albeit with a risk to & nbsp; life, but, believing in the & nbsp; capabilities of his car and in his ability to pilot, performs the task. If everything goes well, the winner will not be judged, if not & nbsp; & ndash; then he was wrong. This formula was derived by the Hero of the Soviet Union, Merited Test Pilot Vasily Petrovich Koloshenko . These words were written in blood: each pilot, being in the & nbsp; air in & nbsp; combat conditions, makes his own decision, and & nbsp; then it becomes clear whether he is a good pilot or the best.

He calls his crew a family. Only with such coordination is it possible & nbsp; ten times a day to go to the & nbsp; war zone, and & nbsp; then a few more times & nbsp; & ndash; at night. To break into the & nbsp; called & shy; starting point under & nbsp; heavy fire of air defense weapons, which was conducted from the & nbsp; Pakistani side. Under the & nbsp; nose of & nbsp; “ spirits '' land a helicopter to pick up the crew of the downed Mi-24. They then were simply at a loss from & nbsp; such impudence of Rilean. This gave our pilots a few minutes of head start to take off and escape from enemy fire. “ Our helicopter was then perforated in & nbsp; several places, but we reached the & nbsp; base '', & nbsp; & ndash; recalls the pilot. He evacuated hundreds of people & nbsp; & ndash; alive, wounded, lifeless. I remembered the first wounded man who was saved forever: “ It was a paratrooper about one meter ninety in height. Spirits asked it with a burst from the & nbsp; machine. We dragged him into a & nbsp; car under fire. My navigator injected painkillers, then put on an IV and & nbsp; held it in & nbsp; hands & nbsp; for an hour, until we flew. & Nbsp;

“Cool guy!”

Railean was not only one of the & nbsp; best pilots, he was one of the & nbsp; best commanders. On the & nbsp; helicopter forums on the & nbsp; Internet, where Afghan survivors share their memories, Rilean's subordinates write about him: “ cool guy. '' The same meaning is stated in the official language when Lieutenant Colonel Railean Alexander Maksimovich was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Of the & nbsp; 26 pilots awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for Afghanistan, 19 helicopter pilots. Then there was even the expression “ helicopter war '' & nbsp; & ndash; There was nothing to do without a Mi-8 workhorse in & nbsp; Afghanistan.

After Afghanistan, in the & nbsp; 90s, Railean had business trips to & nbsp; Chechnya, Kosovo, Tajikistan, combat missions in & nbsp; African countries. Not every operation can be described. For the fact that he remained alive, having gone through so many hot spots, Alexander Maksimovich never ceases to thank the teachers. And & nbsp; the main of & nbsp; them, under & nbsp; which served, & nbsp; & ndash; Hero of the Soviet Union, Colonel General Vitaly Egorovich Pavlov. “ Here the paratroopers have an uncle Vasya & nbsp; & ndash; legendary Vasily Margelov . And & nbsp; Airborne Forces are sometimes called “ Uncle Vasya's Troops. '' And & nbsp; we, helicopter pilots, have Vitaly Pavlov, whom everyone called Batya & raquo;, & nbsp; & ndash; says Railean. & nbsp; & ndash; This is a man of legend, a lump. Without him, & nbsp; our country would not have helicopter aviation as a branch of the military. ''

In the & nbsp; First Chechen, Alexander Maksimovich fought under the command of Pavlov. Like & nbsp; his subordinates, the general slept on a & nbsp; shell bed without a mattress, until he settled his life. “ And how many days have we been looking for & nbsp; Bati rubber boots & shy; 49th size. In & nbsp; Chechnya, as in & nbsp; its time in & nbsp; Afghanistan, footwear specific to the & nbsp; army was required. In the & nbsp; Afghan mountains, they fought in & nbsp; sneakers, and & nbsp; in Chechnya, rubber boots rescued because of the constant mud under & nbsp; feet. & Nbsp;

During the First Chechen War, Colonel-General Pavlov was the Air Force Commander of the Ground Forces, which did not prevent him from lifting the helicopter into the sky. He did it in the & nbsp; most difficult weather conditions, when he realized that only his experience would help to break through the thick clouds and & nbsp; mountains to & nbsp; forward battalions and & nbsp; take out the wounded. Bati died in & nbsp; 2016. We, his pupils, really wanted to perpetuate his memory. Here we have airplanes named in honor of the hero pilots, there are ships and submarines that bear the names of people who glorified the Fatherland. We made sure that the helicopter pilots had their own personal cars. And & nbsp; recently, such a decision was officially adopted. Five cars got names, one of & nbsp; them & nbsp; & ndash; Mi-26 in the & nbsp; Central Military District & nbsp; & ndash; bears the name of the Hero of the Soviet Union, Colonel-General Vitaly Pavlov. '' in & nbsp; heaven, & nbsp; & ndash; own squadron. And & nbsp; from there, I'm sure our Dad will help the crew of his car. Somehow it turns out that none of the & nbsp; generations in & nbsp; Russia avoids being scorched by the war. And & nbsp; we have on & nbsp; someone to look back, with & nbsp; someone to take an example & nbsp; & ndash; and & nbsp; in the sky, and & nbsp; on the ground, and & nbsp; under water & raquo ;.

Источник aif.ru

Germany: Russian dissident Navalny poisoned with nerve agent Novichok

Germany: Russian dissident Navalny poisoned with nerve agent Novichok

In this file photo taken on Sept. 8, 2019, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, with his wife Yulia, right, daughter Daria, and son Zakhar pose for the media after voting during a city council election in Moscow, Russia.


Andrew Lubimov/AP


Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the same type of Soviet-era nerve agent that British authorities identified in a 2018 attack on a former Russian spy, the German government said Wednesday, citing new test results.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement that testing by a special German military laboratory at the Charité hospital’s request had now shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group.”

“It is a dismaying event that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said. “The German government condemns this attack in the strongest terms.”

Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Aug. 20 and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.

He was transferred two days later to Berlin’s Charité hospital, where doctors last week said initial tests indicated Navalny had been poisoned.

British authorities identified Novichok as the poison used in 2018 on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.

The nerve agent is a cholinesterase inhibitor, part of the class of substances that doctors at the Charité initially identified in Navalny.

‘Like leaving an autograph’

Germany has demanded a response from the Russian government, but the Kremlin said Wednesday it hadn’t been informed yet of Navalny being poisoned with a nerve agent.

“Such information hasn’t been relayed to us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state TASS news agency.

Seibert said the German government would inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the test results. In light of the Russian response, he also said that Germany will consult with its partners “on an appropriate joint response.”

Germany also will contact the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Seibert added.

Navalny’s allies in Russia have insisted he was deliberately poisoned by the country’s authorities, accusations that the Kremlin rejected as “empty noise.”

“To poison Navalny with Novichok in 2020 would be exactly the same as leaving an autograph at a crime scene, like this one,” Navalny’s longtime ally and strategist Leonid Volkov said in a tweet that featured a photo of Putin’s name and a signature next to it.

The Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia repeatedly contested the German hospital’s poisoning conclusion, saying they had ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and that their tests for cholinesterase inhibitors came back negative.

In the Charité’s latest update, the hospital said Navalny was still in an induced coma but in stable condition.

Dangerous weapon

Novichok is a class of military-grade nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War. Western weapons experts say it was only ever manufactured in Russia.

After the Skripals were poisoned, Russia said the US, UK and other Western countries acquired the expertise to make the nerve agent after the Soviet Union collapsed, and claimed that the Novichok used in the attack could have come from them.

According to the OPCW, there is no record of Novichok having been declared by any nation that signed the chemical weapons convention.

Britain has charged in absentia two Russians — alleged to be agents of the Russian military intelligence service GRU — with the 2018 attack, which left the Skripals in critical condition and killed a local woman. Russia has refused to extradite the men to the UK.

British police believe the nerve agent was smuggled to Britain in a counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle and sprayed on the front door of Sergei Skripal’s house in the city of Salisbury in southwest England.

More than three months later, the bottle was found by a local man, 48-year-old Charlie Rowley. He was hospitalized and his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the contents.

How Russia laid the groundwork for future disinformation campaigns

How Russia laid the groundwork for future disinformation campaigns

The World staff

Lucy Martirosyan

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Russian BMPT armored fighting vehicles drive during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2020. The military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, was scheduled for May 9, but postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).


Ramil Sitdikov/Reuters


More than 13,000 military personnel marched shoulder-to-shoulder, mostly without masks, in Moscow’s Red Square Wednesday. 

Russia was six weeks late to its annual World War II Victory Day parade, which is usually held May 9 — the country’s largest public holiday. 

Related: Coronavirus postponed Russia’s Victory Day. For Putin, it’s a problem.

This year, President Vladimir Putin postponed the celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat over Nazi Germany because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Russia is still the third hardest-hit country in the world by COVID-19 — so why risk hosting a mega event, even if delayed?

One answer is that the celebration comes ahead of a key constitutional vote that would help Putin stay in power for two more terms.

Related: This pact between Hitler and Stalin paved the way for WWII

But there’s also an interesting history with Russia’s Victory Day celebrations, dating back to 2007 in the Baltic country of Estonia.

In one chapter of her new book, “How to Lose the Information War,” Nina Jankowicz describes how relocating the Bronze Soldier statue in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, exposed divisions between Russian speakers and Estonians. The Bronze Soldier was a controversial Soviet World War II memorial, which also served as a reminder to many of the 50 years Estonia spent under Soviet occupation.  

Jankowicz spoke with The World’s Marco Werman about how this controversy made Estonia vulnerable to a cyberattack over a decade ago that laid some of the groundwork for Russia’s future disinformation campaigns.

Related: The human chain that unshackled the Baltic nation

Marco Werman: The Victory Day parade is connected obviously to World War II, and the triumph of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany, which is tied to the story of Estonia and its more recent attacks by Russia in cyberspace. Those first attacks came in 2007, and it was all over — this will sound especially familiar now — a statue that got moved, the Bronze Soldier. Explain what happened.

Nina Jankowicz: When a new Estonian government decided to move this World War II statue and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to the outskirts of the capital, Russia used this as a flashpoint, and for many years, this is where people were gathering, for instance, on Victory Day to mark the victory, of course, of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany. And this was seen as a real slap in the face to the Russian population [in Estonia] and certainly was interpreted that way by Russia. And there’s evidence that Russia, the embassy, its security services, instigated riots that happened in 2007 around Victory Day in the moving of this statue, and then a cyberattack, which took down many Estonian media outlets. It took down parts of the Estonian government and banking system. And as a result, Estonia was one of the warning signals that this information war that we find ourselves in was coming.

Related: Countering Russian disinformation the Baltic nations’ way 

There’s this troubling scene where lawmakers in Washington were asleep at the wheel in response to the 2007 Russian cyberattacks on Estonia. Do you think now Washington is alert enough to the meaning of the entire constellation of threats to democracy in cyberspace, whether it’s coming from Russia or anywhere else?

I think we are waking up. Unfortunately, we’re still in bed, though, Marco. We’ve not fully gotten out of bed and really washed our face and clearly faced the threats of the day. Something that worries me every single day is the fact that disinformation has been politicized by both political parties in the United States. We need to recognize that it is not one political party that is going to always be victorious because of Russian or any other foreign disinformation. The ultimate victim is democracy. This is not a partisan issue.

And we need to equip our citizens, equip our lawmakers with that understanding that we will not stand for foreign interference or even domestic interference that is misleading voters about things like polling place locations and voting times. We’re seeing all of this happening because disinformation has been democratized and we need to fight back against that. And unfortunately, the Russian playbook is open to anybody who wants to use it — anyone with a social media account and a credit card. This stuff is not hard to do and it’s becoming more and more rampant unless we act soon.

Related: Analysis: Facebook is undermining democracy 

So you describe combating Russia’s disinformation techniques through “whack-a-troll,” kind of like the game, whack-a-mole. Explain that, Nina.

Sure. So, I think what we, the United States and many other countries in the West, have done so far is we’ve tried to fact check. We have tried to remove inauthentic accounts and inauthentic content from the internet. And that is a losing strategy because Russia is happy to allocate as much resources as necessary, whether those are human resources or monetary resources, to pump the information ecosystem full of misleading and divisive content. Their strategy isn’t a grand strategy where they know exactly what buttons to press at every time. It’s more like spaghetti at the wall — they throw it and they see what sticks and then they keep throwing that same sticky spaghetti over and over. And social media empowers them. It makes them able to do that.

So rather than playing “whack-a-troll,” I argue that we really need to invest in solving the root causes of these problems, solving what makes us so vulnerable to Russia in the first place. We need to heal the fissures in our society and heal the polarization that Russia weaponizes. And that means, first of all, that our politicians themselves cannot use disinformation tactics, because that makes us, as I mentioned before, totally impotent when we’re trying to push back against bad actors like Russia or China. But it also means investing in things like media literacy, digital literacy, civics, and, you know, restoring a democratic discourse, not only online, but offline as well. These are things that are generational investments, of course, but it’s important that we start them now because as the story of Estonia in 2007 shows, this has been something that Russia has been at for generations and it’s time that we catch up.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.