Kommersant‘s February dispatches from Donbass mentioned “Buryats,” apparently Russian servicemen from the republic of Buryatia. Yesterday, Novaya Gazeta published an interview with a young man, apparently an ethnic Buryat from Chita, wounded in a tank fight against the Ukrainian army. The Interpreter has a summary of the interview with some explanations.
At a gut feeling level, I suspect that the soldier’s distant superiors somehow OKed the release of the interview and possibly coached him up to a point. The propaganda paradigm is changing for domestic consumption, it seems to me: the involvement of Russian servicemen won’t be denied for much longer. They could soon be feted as reincarnations of Spanish republicans.