Digest of Movement of Conscientious Objection Russia, July 2023

Spring-summer conscription – New laws – MCO helps conscientious objectors – MCO signed a petition

Spring-summer conscription for military service has ended in Russia

It became the third in a row since the beginning of Russia’s military aggression towards Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that 147,000 people were sent to the troops and other military formations. The rights of conscripts continued to be grossly violated: military offices carried out forced conscription and raids on the territory of student dormitories and even confiscated push-button telephones on the territory of the assembly point (final location before being sent to the army). According to Russian legislation, military offices do not have a legal right to deliver conscripts to the military office. However, in practice, the police are constantly used for such purposes. It is difficult to counteract such actions effectively. If a person does not have a lawyer or a representative by proxy, then he is left alone against the state machine.

Russian parliament passed new laws worsening the rights of conscientious objectors

The Russian parliament, the State Duma, continues to make amendments to military legislation that worsen the situation for conscientious objectors to military service.

Firstly, monetary fines for violating military law have changed. New fines ranging from 300 to 400 euros have been adopted for failure to appear in the military office. For failure to provide current information about yourself (place of work, place of residence, etc.) to the military office, the conscript will be fined in the amount of 100 to 200 euros. Before these changes, fines ranged from 5 to 30 euros and were issued quite rarely in practice. Fines have also been provided for legal entities: organizations will be required to report information on all their employees under threat of a fine of up to 4,000 euros. During the period of mobilization, which has not been stopped in Russia, organizations will be required to assist military offices in notifying conscripts under threat of a fine of up to 5,000 euros. Previously, there were no fines for legal entities in the legislation.

Secondly, an amendment was adopted to change the conscription age. In one day, amendments were adopted that the age would be changed from the current 18 – 27 years to 18 – 30 years. Previously, deputies also wanted to change the lower limit of the conscription age from 18 to 21 years, but at the last moment they abandoned this idea. Changing the draft age will allow more military personnel to be called up for compulsory military service. The head of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, Andrei Kartapolov, commented on this change: It was decided to leave the lower limit of conscription age at 18 years old, because a lot of guys want to go to serve at 18 years old. The amendments will come into force in 2024.

Thirdly, the age limit for being in the reserves of the Russian armed forces was changed. If previously most men in Russia could be called up for war strictly at the age of 50, then from 2024 it will be increased to 55 years. There are no other criteria in Russian legislation that prevent the conscription of men under the age of 55 for military service.

Fourthly, the deputies clarified that restrictions on leaving Russia and other economic restrictions, for example, a ban on real estate transactions, a ban on driving, etc. will work without the commissioning of an electronic register. Thus, it will be possible to introduce travel restrictions upon a written request from the military office. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, in turn, has developed a procedure according to which conscripts will be restricted from driving a car.

MCO helps conscientious objectors to replace military service with an alternative one

MCO continues to help conscripts who defend their right to replace conscription service with an alternative one. We tell you the story of Kirill, who sued the military office because of the refusal to replace conscription service with an alternative one, and ultimately achieved his goal. At first they tried to refuse Kirill due to violations of the application deadlines: in Russia it must be submitted at least six months before the start of conscription for military service. Kirill filed a lawsuit, but the judicial authorities agreed with the military registration and enlistment office. During the next conscription campaign, Kirill submitted his application on time and also prepared other documents, but the military office tried to refuse him due to the fact that a negative decision had already been made on him in the previous period. Kirill appealed this refusal to the prosecutor’s office, which satisfied his complaint. Finally, on the 5th of July the military commission decided to replace military service with alternative civilian service. Self-confidence and consistent defense of Kirill’s position as a conscientious objector allowed him to avoid the conscription army.

MCO signed a petition in support of Russian conscientious objectors to the European Commission and the European Parliament

MCO signed the petition in support of Russian conscientious objectors to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The petition focuses on:

– Clarification of the humanitarian status and international protection of conscientious objectors;

– Support for organizations involved in evacuation from Russia and support for conscientious objectors;

– Support for non-European countries that host the main wave of refuseniks from Russia;

– Simplification of the procedure for obtaining visas and travel documents for conscientious objectors.

That same month, the French National Court of Asylum rejected the claim of a Russian serviceman, noting that the right to asylum is more likely to arise only after forced or voluntary mobilization to a combat zone. This practice leads to the fact that in order to obtain asylum or a humanitarian visa, a person must first become a military personnel and then get out of the combat zone on his own. MCO, signing the petition, separately notes that such a procedure should be simplified.

Movement of Conscientious Objection Russia: Digest July 2023. Sent via eMail October 18, 2023