Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a Kremlin decree to classify troop deaths during peace time, seen as an attempt to cover up Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
The court ruled against a complaint by several activists and journalists that the decree was illegal and aimed at preventing any information about Russia’s military role in eastern Ukraine from being made public.
Signed by President Vladimir Putin in late May, it adds “military losses during war time and during special operations in peace time” to the types of information that constitute a state secret.
Russia’s independent media, opposition activists and rights lawyers have been piling evidence of troop losses over the past year but reports of secret funerals and grieving families have been kept out of state media and rejected by the government.
The eight-hour long court session revealed that the decree was initially pitched to the government by the military, the foreign intelligence service and the FSB security service, said Ruslan Leviyev, one of the people behind the complaint.