MOSCOW -- A retired Russian general appeared before journalists at the Russian Defense Ministry here Wednesday to declare that he was "fit and well and living in Moscow,” contrary to reports of his death in Syria at the hands of rebels.
“Personally, the information about my alleged death in Syria is very unpleasant for me,” Vladimir Kuzheyev said. “I feel deep indignation and I am very much troubled with this information of my alleged death, which caused so much concern to my family members, acquaintances and colleagues who keep calling me inquiring about my well-being.”
A video posted Tuesday night on YouTube by the Free Syrian Army claimed that a Russian military advisor to Syria's defense minister identified as Gen. Vladimir Khodzhev and a Syrian interpreter had been killed by the rebels.
The post carried a photograph of what was described as a Syrian government identification card for a middle-aged man closely resembling Kuzheyev.
An officer of the Free Syrian Army who appeared on the video said that “all snakes” from Russia, Iran or Lebanon should “go back to their dens.” Russia is one of the few remaining foreign allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
“The report about a Russian general allegedly killed in Syria is an outright lie,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that appeared on its website Wednesday. “The goal of spreading such statements is not only hunting for scoops but a clearly provocative action toward Russian servicemen.”
The ministry’s statement didn’t confirm or deny that Kuzheyev had ever worked in Syria but said that he had retired from military service in 2010.
-- Sergei L. Loiko
Photos: Retired Russian Gen. Vladimir Kuzheyev (top) met with journalists Wednesday in Moscow. A video posted on YouTube by the Free Syrian Army claimed that a Russian military advisor to Syria's defense minister identified as Gen. Vladimir Khodzhev had been killed. The post carried the photograph above of what was described as a Syrian government identification. Credit: NTV (top photo) and Russia Defense Ministry