What fate befalls Russian soldiers who refuse to fight in Ukraine?

What fate befalls Russian soldiers who refuse to fight in Ukraine?

August 3, 2022, 8:20 PM

August 3, 2022, 8:20 PM

More and more Russian soldiers are refusing to participate in the “special operation,” as Russia calls the invasion of Ukraine, according to human rights advocates. For this reason, those soldiers who no longer want to fight in Ukraine, or who were discharged for family reasons, are prevented from leaving the country.

According to activists and family members told DW, the so-called “objectors” are held in prison camps and jails in various locations in the self-styled “Lugansk People’s Republic”. That is, in areas that are not controlled by kyiv. Some parents of Russian soldiers have now traveled to the Donbas region to demand the release of their children.

Complaint before the General Prosecutor’s Office

In four towns in the area of ​​Ukraine controlled by Russia, Russian soldiers would be imprisoned, among others, in Popasna, Alchevsk, Stajánov and Krasnyi, according to a complaint by members of the Russian Council for Human Rights before the Prosecutor General’s Office of that country, a document with the one that counts DW. It reads that, after refusing to participate in the war, the soldiers would have been imprisoned, both in those cities and also on the battlefront of the city of Svitlodar’sk, in the Donetsk region.

The military chiefs rejected all the requests of the soldiers, and also did not send them back to their barracks in Russia, the document indicates. According to the authors of the complaint, including film director Alexander Sokurov and journalist Nikolai Svanidze, the soldiers complain about prison conditions and accuse their superiors of exerting psychological pressure on them. “These are crimes against members of the Army, illegal detentions, torture and inhuman treatment,” says the complaint.

Punishments for those who make it public

However, due to pressure, some soldiers withdraw their requests not to take part in the fighting and return to their war missions, the parents of a soldier who is imprisoned in Brianka, Lugansk region, and whose name they prefer to keep it secret because they fear for their lives. “First, the soldiers said that they would not go back to war in any way, and they did not sign anything. But suddenly they found out that they would go to the front without notifying their parents,” they explained.

The publication of information about the rejection of requests from soldiers who want to leave Ukraine, as well as public calls for the release of soldiers from prison camps and prisons, can be punished by the Russian authorities.

“Serious violation of Russian laws”

In early July, the Free Buryaatia Foundation reported that around 500 soldiers from Buryatia, one of Russia’s 21 republics, had refused to fight in Ukraine and wanted to return to their country. According to the Verstka newspaper, blocked by the Russian authorities, it would even be 1,793 soldiers.

The first objections from soldiers to continue participating in the war in Ukraine occurred as early as the end of March 2022, said Serguei Krivenko, human rights defender and coordinator of the organization “Citizens and the Army”, in an interview with DW.

According to Krivenko, there are more and more cases of soldiers refusing to fulfill their service. These are taken to the Lugansk prisons so that they do not leave the combat territory. “That is a serious violation of Russian law. A soldier cannot be detained without having undergone a trial. Only a Russian court on Russian territory is legally empowered to deliver a verdict on him,” the human rights defender stresses.

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