Cuban is Captured by Ukrainian Troops and Offers Testimony on Russian Military Recruitment

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Digital media outlets and social media platforms are these days disseminating the statements of a Cuban in Russia, who has been recruited for military operations after being deceived about the job he would be performing in the Russian country.

On Thursday, March 14, an interview conducted by Ukrainian journalist Andriy Tsaplienko with the Cuban citizen Frank Darío Jarrosay Manfugas was released, providing details about his recruitment process for the Russian Army after accepting a job opportunity in construction areas that ended on the battlefield unintentionally.

This Friday, a press conference was held in Kiev, where the press chief of the Ukrainian Committee for the Treatment of Prisoners of War – Petro Yatsenko – warned about the procedure of military recruitment by Russia.

According to the revelations of the 35-year-old, the process began last January 16 of this year when he received a job invitation for restoration work in plumbing, masonry, and carpentry.

The Cuban, originally from Guantanamo, points out that the benefits of traveling to the Eurasian country in acceptance of the job offer included a monthly salary of 250,000 rubles, in addition to obtaining Russian nationality.

Darío Jarrosay affirms that at first, he was paid the monthly amount for February and an additional amount of 100,000 rubles as financial aid after his arrival in the country, totaling 350,000 rubles deposited to his personal card.

The detention procedure starts with sending a photo of the passport to the contact in Russia who carries out the necessary procedures for the Cubans to make the trip, sending, through electronic means, the dated documents for the execution of the flight.

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The group that Jarrosay was part of included another 34 individuals of Cuban nationality with the same purpose of job insertion in Russia, and who were received at the airport still in total ignorance of the real destination.

The method then consists of signing a contract that most Cubans sign without knowing the content, since it is presented in Russian, and they proceed to sign the commitment and responsibility for possible consequences in the participation of the conflict in Ukraine, instead of the falsely announced employment contract.

“We did not know what the contract in Russian said, and they make you sign believing it is the job you think you came for, and when you realize you are already in a bunker and feel the shots in the trench. I have no military training, the Cubans who come do not have that training,”

declares Frank Darío in the interrogation.

The testimony of the young man from Guantanamo also refers to a disconcerting and ambiguous attitude of the Russians towards the Cubans, as sometimes they had gestures of empathy and other times a highly recriminating stance, coupled with explaining the mission in Russian without being able to understand the arguments referred to them and without the presence of any translator as also did not exist at the time of signing the contract.

Furthermore, he mentions that they did not have all the necessary protective measures, they wore bulletproof vests but no helmets, and an AKM gun without ammunition for shooting. “I was lost in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, they could have shot me, killed me, because I was carrying an unloaded AKM”.

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Frank Darío Jarrosay describes the moment of capture when he was in the company of other Cubans and Russians and a bombing occurred that caused the dispersion of the group leaving him alone, while he begins to chase a Ukrainian in confusion of a Russian, thus facilitating his capture.

The case of the young man from Guantanamo, Jarrosay Manfugas, is just a glimpse of many Cubans who are currently in a similar situation of detention for combat in Ukraine in exchange for promising material benefits, tempting salary payments, stay in a foreign country, and legalization of migratory documents.

Pedro Roberto Camuza also denounced last year these recruitment actions, after his son was one of the Cubans deceived in this process, and other Cuban prisoners of war have also declared to be victims during the press conference in Kiev.

For its part, the official Cuban sources denounced last September 2023 these actions of mobilization of Cubans with the purpose of participating in combat actions in Ukraine, and the governmental bodies publicly expressed a practice of zero tolerance against these crimes of “human trafficking, illegal traffic, and mercenarism”, according to qualifiers from the country’s press.

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Haymé Santoya Rodríguez

Licenciada en Historia del Arte por la Universidad de Oriente. Investigadora en Casa de la Nacionalidad Cubana. Se especializa en estudios sobre artes visuales y cine cubano. Ha realizado trabajos de curaduría de arte así como conferencias, presentaciones de libros, conversatorios y disertaciones sobre su especialización. Se ha vinculado al periodismo digital desde el 2018.