The Soviet Origins of Putin’s Mercenaries | Newlines Magazine

Methods perfected during the occupation of Afghanistan are now in wide use among Russia’s corporate guns for hire

In February 2018, people in the Russian town of Asbest were surprised to learn that several of their fellow citizens had died in Khasham, eastern Syria, 4,000 kilometers (2,489 miles) from home. When Maxim Borodin, the star reporter from the newspaper Novy Den (New Day), arrived in Asbest, the deaths were still shrouded in mystery. Asbest, in the Sverdlovsk region, is known mainly for its asbestos factories, but after the fall of the Soviet Union, the population in this industrial hamlet was hit hard. Residents lost their jobs, and to feed their families they increasingly turned to employment opportunities in private security for individuals and companies, a sector that has grown since the early 1990s, thanks to the associated risks of doing business in Russia’s nascent market economy.