The Russian branch of the Red Cross (RKK), which according to the charter must maintain independence, promotes the war in Ukraine, including distributing mugs with Z-symbols and portraits of Vladimir Putin to refugees. At the same time, public organizations claim about the connection of the RKK with the presidential administration, the Nestka publication reports.
In regional branches, organizations report on the collection of assistance for military personnel, and a representative of one of them personally invites men to participate in the war.
Citizens of Ukraine who were forced to flee the country because of the war claim that they face rudeness and denial of help in the RKK. A volunteer from Tver, Valentina, told how she helped Ukrainians sort out the humanitarian aid they received from the Red Cross. According to her, among the things she and volunteers found mugs with Vladimir Putin, T-shirts with his portraits and with the letter Z. She noted that it is cruel and unethical to distribute such things to people who have lost their homes due to a “special operation”.
A refugee from Mariupol, Svetlana (not her real name), who came to the city of Shakhty in the Rostov region, said that she has been trying to get a payment for a small child since May. The Red Cross told her that there was no humanitarian aid, and then they said that the aid had completely ended. At the same time, the RKK told the publication that since June it has been providing refugees and IDPs with material payments: “The beneficiaries can receive from five to fifteen thousand rubles.” Such measures are in place in the Voronezh, Kursk, Belgorod, Rostov, Penza, Ulyanovsk, Tula and Vladimir regions, as well as in Moscow.
Since April last year, the Russian organization has been led by 28-year-old Pavel Savchuk. Before him, since 2006, the RKK was headed by Raisa Lukutsova, under whom the Investigative Committee began an audit of the organization in 2021. Lukutsova announced her resignation, and a criminal case was opened against her for fraud. According to investigators, she tried to sell the building, owned by RKK, at a lower price. She was sentenced to four years of probation.
In 2016, Savchuk, who is now in charge of the organization, became the chairman of the All-Russian public movement “Medical Volunteers”, it was he who was one of the initiators of the creation of the “We are together” project. Since the beginning of the war, the project has been officially working with Ukrainian refugees. According to Nestka sources, the project was launched with the help of the Kremlin: this block is headed by subordinates of the first deputy head of the presidential administration, Sergei Kiriyenko.
According to the publication, now some members of the RKK openly support the war in Ukraine. For example, the chairman of the Kirov regional branch, Yuri Basmanov, is a member of the Combat Brotherhood and the Union of Volunteers of Donbass organizations. These organizations are actively inviting contract soldiers from the Kirov region to fight on the territory of Ukraine. Basmanov himself posted an announcement on social networks from the “Combat Brotherhood”, which says that the Kirovites “are waiting for the Vyatka Kirov battalion to serve.”
The “Combat Brotherhood” was formed in 1997 and positions itself as the “All-Russian Public Organization of Veterans”, its members fought in the Donbass and Syria. In 2017, representatives of the organization identified their comrade Grigory Tsurkana, who was captured by the militants, on the video of the Islamic State. Turcanu's brother confirmed that he was in Syria as part of the Wagner PMC. The Insider wrote about how, in 2014, members of the "Combat Brotherhood" were presented for promotion in a letter to Alexei Anisimov, the former deputy head of the Internal Policy Department of the Presidential Administration. Among those who received the medal as a member of the "Combat Brotherhood" was Konstantin Malofeev, whose participation in organizing the invasion of Ukraine was written by The Insider. In 2020, the organization received 141.6 million rubles of subsidies from the budget.
The Russian Red Cross began operating in 1876 and is the oldest public organization in the country. Initially, the organization was called the "Russian Society for the Care of the Wounded and Sick Soldiers", its charter was approved by Emperor Alexander II. It appeared as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Now the Russian Red Cross has 100,000 members and 84 regional branches throughout the country, and remains a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. However, these organizations are not interconnected, and none of them is subordinate to the other.