CNN, citing “multiple sources,” reported that since last year, Russia has recruited from 14 to 15 thousand Nepalese citizens to participate in the war with Ukraine.
According to the channel, Nepalese who want to join the Russian army, enter Russia on a tourist visa. They enter the country through the UAE and India, and upon arrival in Moscow they are sent to the military registration and enlistment office for a medical examination, according to CNN interlocutors.
Data from the FSB Border Service on the entry of foreigners into Russia confirms a sharp increase in the number of tourists from Nepal, but does not confirm the number cited by CNN.
So, according to border guards, in 2022 only 72 Nepalese tourists entered Russia, and in 2023 there were already 1,039 of them – slightly less than in pre-Covid 2019.
The bulk of tourists from Nepal arrived in the fourth quarter of 2023, setting a record of more than 700 people in three months.
As CNN notes, the number of 14-15 thousand Nepalese mercenaries in the Russian army is an estimate by MP and former foreign minister Bimala Rai Paudyal, who, in turn, refers to the stories of those who returned from the war. Speaking in the Nepalese parliament, she called on the Russian authorities to provide accurate information on the number of mercenaries.
The channel also quotes social activist Krita Bhandari, who said that in recent weeks about two thousand families have approached her with a request to help contact their missing relatives or return them home.
In early January 2024, Nepalese authorities suspended the issuance of work permits to citizens in Russia and Ukraine after news of the death of 10 Nepalese while serving in the Russian army. Reuters indicated that over the past two years, 800 Nepalese have received work permits in Russia.
At the same time, the Nepalese government reported that up to 200 Nepalese were serving in the Russian Armed Forces. Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud said that about 100 people are missing, four are in Ukrainian captivity. As CNN notes, local human rights activists consider these estimates to be underestimated.
Nepal cooperates with the British and Indian armies, but the country has no agreements on military service with Russia.
At the beginning of the year, Vladimir Putin signed a decree that allows foreigners who have signed a contract for military service to obtain Russian citizenship. State Duma Deputy Alexander Khinshtein wrote that “now the problem with the extradition of Northern Military District veterans to other countries, where they will face punishment for “mercenarism,” will be resolved.”
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