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Russian Ukraine Veterans Get Tolerance When Breaking Bad In Homeland

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Russian soldiers returning from the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine are getting preferential treatment in Russian society, courtesy of Kremlin policy.

In some instances, businesses are being forced to accept ‘bad behavior’, or at least not push consequences for such behavior for soldiers returning from the front.

Only a few weeks have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin said those fighting in Ukraine were his country’s “new elite”, but already the privileges and special status being afforded to Russian soldiers who have served in Ukraine are racking up. Russia’s aviation agency last week advised airlines to give “participants in the special military operation” priority when checking in, passing through security and boarding flights. It also warned of consequences for anybody who showed an “inappropriate attitude” towards them — an apparent reference to asking airlines to be more lenient with soldiers that break the rules or disrupt other passengers. Speedy boarding is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits being rolled out for veterans of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it is emblematic of their new status in the country, writes independent Russian media outlet The Bell.

Kommersant has reported on a leaked letter from the Rosaviatsia air transport regulator advising airlines how they should treat “participants in the Special Military Operation,” as Russian soldiers who fought Ukraine are officially known. Airlines were urged to grant them priority check-in and fast lines through airport security, while staff should be instructed to avoid “instances of inappropriate communication with military personnel.” Veterans should also be able to rebook tickets if they have a legitimate reason for missing a flight and those with mobility issues should be allocated the most comfortable seats.

The treatment is new for the Russian public, as historically military veterans have not enjoyed a high place in society, as the profession was looked down upon since the fall of the Soviet Union.

That looks to be changing as Moscow desires to create a new class in Russian society, similar to what vets have enjoyed in the United States in past decades.

Russian veterans of the Ukraine offensive already enjoy a wide range of official benefits. Contract soldiers are exempt from prosecution for various crimes. Without exception, all participants of the war are entitled to free legal aid and bailiffs cannot seize their assets. They have recently been exempted from paying interest on consumer loans. In higher education, 10% of course places are offered for free to military personnel and their families, and there are scholarships for students who have served at the front. 

Since the turn of the year, there have been about a dozen high-profile scandals and clashes involving soldiers in airports and on planes. In one notorious incident in February, passengers on a flight from Moscow to Yakutsk persuaded police not to arrest a rowdy soldier. In another case, a veteran was kicked off a Pobeda flight for smoking, prompting the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastyrkin, to open a criminal case against the airline.

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