Russian general thought killed in Syria says he's not dead


Syrians residing in Libya wave the former Syrian flag as they protest outside the Russian embassy in Tripoli on Feb. 5, 2012. The protest came after Russia and China for the second time vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the President Bashar al-Assad regime's crackdown on dissent.


Mahmud Turkia

A Russian general believed killed by rebels in Syria casually showed up on TV today "looking well," said Reuters.

"I want to confirm that I am alive and well," Reuters cited reserve general Vladimir Petrovich Kuzheyev as saying, according to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency. Kuzheyev, shown at the defense ministry wearing a blue shirt and no tie, added, "I am in good health and I'm living in Moscow."

Reports of his death were a "bald-faced lie," Reuters quoted local news reports as saying. 

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A Syrian rebel group earlier sent Reuters a video showing the ID of a Russian general known Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev and said he had been killed. The spelling differences are likely due to Cyrillic translation complications, according to Reuters

United Press International, citing the video, quotes an unidentified rebel officer as saying, "we warned all the snakes to go back to their dens whether it is Russia, Iran and Iraq or Lebanon." 

"The goal of broadcasting such statements [about Kuzheyev's death] is not just to cause a sensation, but a clear attempt at a slur toward the Russian Army," PANArmenian cited Russia's Defense Ministry as saying. 

Russia is a close ally of the Syrian regime, which is fighting a 17-month armed insurrection against its rule. The violence there is believed to have taken some 20,000 lives.

It was unclear whether Kuzheyev had indeed ever been in Syria, but Reuters cited Russia's Interfax news agency as saying he helped advise the Syrian Defense Ministry there two years ago.