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Russian soldier’s mother nearly faints, then demands to know why he was in Ukraine

 Olga Garina spits out the time, “one-o-five,” when she got the call telling her that her paratrooper son was one of 10 taken captive this week in Ukraine. That call — from a neighbor, not from the army — set her on course to become a defiant ringleader against stonewalling Russian military officers.

The neighbor, in the small town of Makaryev, had seen online a picture of Garina’s son, Yegor Pochtoyev, 20, in Ukrainian captivity, and she thought Garina should know. That neighbor ended up calling an ambulance after Garina nearly fainted.

Pochtoyev and other paratroopers from Kostroma were detained Monday on Ukrainian soil. Since then, Garina has been making the daily 125-mile journey from her home in Makaryev to Kostroma, where she has rallied the captured paratroopers’ mothers as they demand answers about what happened to their sons.

They are from the city and the country. They support their government and their president. Most claim to be apolitical — although ask a few if they support the takeover of Crimea and the ready answer is: Of course.

Yet, what to outsiders watching the unfolding crisis in Ukraine might have seemed inevitable — that Russian troops would end up there — was, to the mothers of those soldiers, unthinkable.

“If there were a plan for them to be sent to Ukraine, someone would have given them notice, and then he would not have gone,” Tatiana Arkhipova, 42, said of her son Sergei, 22, who is among those captured.

Continue reading at www.washingtonpost.com

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