Earlier this fall, Andrei Lazev, 19, called his parents home to tell them that he had completed his military training in Russia and would now be sent to Crimea with other recruits.
Just a few weeks later, he called again to tell me that he had been admitted to a field hospital in poor condition and suffering from persistent nausea.
Meanwhile, he reportedly said he was pressured into signing a contract to allow him to be sent to the Games in Ukraine.
In Russia, conscripts may not be sent to fight abroad unless they sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense.
Over the phone, Andre must have been clear that he didn’t want to sign the contract.
After months of minimal contact between Andrei and his parents, a letter arrived to the parents from another patient at another hospital.
Then the warning lights went off, he said Radio Free Europe (RFE), who reportedly spoke to his parents.
At the beginning of November, the 19-year-old was said to have died in a naval hospital in Sevastopol. The cause of death was determined to be brain swelling and bleeding, according to documents reviewed by RFE.
The parents told Radio Free Europe that they suspected their son died after he expressed his reluctance to fight in Ukraine.
A few days after Andrei contacted his parents for the first time, he was discharged from the field hospital and sent to a base in the northern parts of Crimea.
It then took weeks before the parents heard from their son again on October 23.
This time the message was from a patient at the hospital in Sevastopol who allegedly shared a room with the 19-year-old. The patient was able to say that Andrei had been hospitalized for two weeks and that his condition was very bad.
The patient also sent a photo of Andrei to his parents. In the photo, their son must have been unrecognizable, the parents told RFE.
Andre says on the phone that he doesn’t know what was happening or how he ended up in the hospital.
Before the draft, Andrei weighed about 100 kilograms, and in the photo sent by the parents he appeared to weigh about 60 kilograms.
– We immediately called the hospital, but no one wanted to talk to us, Father Nikolai Lazev told RFE radio.
Finally, the parents contact a psychiatrist who treated Andrei. He says his condition was due to homesickness.
On the other hand, the psychiatrist revealed that he saw clear signs of Andrei being beaten, as Nikolai reportedly said.
Some time after their son’s death, they sent a document specifying the cause of death as brain swelling and hemorrhage. The document also stated that the swelling should have been discovered a month before death.
The parents say they have not received any information from the hospital or the Russian army. This is despite the fact that Nikolai himself has a military background.
He is certain his son is dead after trying to force him to sign the contract that will send him to Ukraine.
– I’m afraid it will be like this. My doubts are reinforced by the fact that no one explains anything. No one is telling the truth.
“Organizer. Social media geek. General communicator. Bacon scholar. Proud pop culture trailblazer.”