A Russian general on Wednesday denied claims that he was killed by Syrian rebel forces in clashes near Damascus.
“As a human being, it was very unpleasant for me to hear about my supposed death in Syria,” Major-General Vladimir Petrovich Kuzheyev said, according to The Moscow Times. He added, “I want to confirm that I am alive and well, I am in good health and live in Moscow.”
Rebels with the Free Syrian Army said that Kuzheyev was killed in recent clashes and produced a document with a photograph resembling the general in a YouTube video, reported Saudi Arabia-based Al-Arabiya television.
“This proves the involvement of the Russians in the humanitarian crimes against our people and our nation,” a rebel said in the video. A Free Syrian Army officer chimed in: “We warn all the snakes to go back to their dens whether it is Russia, Iran and Iraq or Lebanon.”
The rebels also sent a copy of the video to Reuters, showing what they said was a copy of the general’s identification issued by the Syrian military, which spelled his name as Vladimir Petrovich Kochyev.
Kuzheyev called a news conference in Moscow to dispute the claims. He has worked as an adviser to Syria’s Defense Ministry on military schools, the Times reported. But it is not clear if he was in the country recently.
He said the death claim was an affront on him personally and on Russia.Russia is one of the handful of countries that has backed the Syrian government during the violence that began in March 2011. Along with China, Russia has consistently blocked resolutions in the United Nations Security Council on Syria.