Dissident troops opposing Putin claimed to have seized a Russian town in Belgorod

RDK soldiers (Reuters)

He Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK, for its acronym in Russian) has announced on Monday that it has taken control of the town of Novaya Tavolzhankain the Russian region of Belgorod and located very close to the border with Ukraine.

“Novaya Tavolzhanka remains of no interest to the regional or federal (Russian) authorities. The only power in this abandoned town is the RDK”, the group highlighted in a message posted on its Telegram channel accompanied by a video of two individuals in military uniforms and the blue flag with the white emblem of the RDK.

“The fate of Russia does not concern those who live in the Garden Ring, in Barvija, Novaya Riga or Rublevka beyond the MKAD -Moscow Ring Road- and the regional authorities have not controlled the situation for a long time. . That’s why we act!”, they have argued. “Glory to Russia! Glory to the RDK!” the message concludes.

Novaya Tavolzhanka has, according to statistics, about 5,000 inhabitants but “now it is empty”as recounted by one of the militiamen who appears in the video.

The Belgorod region has been the target of various attacks by Ukrainian forces since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, including two separate ground assaults in recent days that Moscow blames on Ukraine, although they have also been claimed by groups of anti-Kremlin militiamen.

Novaya Tavolzhanka
Smoke rises over an area of ​​Novaya Tavolzhanka, Belgorod region, Russia, in this screenshot taken from a social media video posted on June 5, 2023 (Freedom Of Russia Legion/via REUTERS)

Ukraine claims that both the RDK and the Russian Freedom Legion are paramilitary organizations are made up of Russian citizens who support Ukrainian forces and they are against the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Volunteer Corps has had a certain relevance since it carried out an attack in the Briansk region of Russia in March. Its leader has ties to neo-Nazi organizations.

Hours earlier, as the Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have repelled a Ukrainian reconnaissance and sabotage group, the governor of Belgorod Oblast, Vyacheslav Gladkov, confirmed the existence of fighting inside Novaya Tavolzhanka. Conflicting reports from official Russian sources and the governor’s acknowledgment pointed to a lack of coordination in dealing with these incursions, leaving Russian leadership undecided about their reaction.

Amid the escalation of tensions, Governor Gladkov found himself embroiled in negotiations on the exchange of captured Russian prisoners of war. The RDK and LSR released a video showing two Russian POWs they claimed to have captured near Novaya Tavolzhanka. They demanded the presence of Governor Gladkov to negotiate his release.

Initially, Gladkov agreed to meet them at the Shebekino checkpoint, but later backed out., suspecting that the POWs might have been shot. In response, the RDK and LSR released another video featuring 12 Russian POWs, criticizing Gladkov for his lack of courage and threatening to send the prisoners to Ukraine.

(With information from EP and ADP)

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