KATERYNA TYSHCHENKO — FRIDAY, 22 APRIL, 2022, 19:54
Hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the Russian military are refusing to go and fight in Ukraine; their commanders are putting pressure on them and threatening them, but they cannot initiate criminal proceedings against them for refusing to fight.
Details: According to the publication, the number of soldiers refusing to go to Ukraine is unknown, but there are hundreds or even thousands of them.
In the absence of a state of war in the Russian Federation, it is difficult to initiate proceedings against them for failure to comply with an order, so commanders are putting pressure on their subordinates, using persuasion, threats and dismissals.
Lawyer Maxim Grebenyuk explained to the publication that in the absence of a state of war, it is almost impossible to prove the content of Article 332 of the Criminal Code (failure to comply with an order), which presupposes "substantial damage" in order for proceedings to be initiated. According to Grebenyuk, not a single case has been initiated under this article since 24 February.
"The problem is that there are no orders to participate in hostilities on foreign territory, because we have not instituted a state of war. The servicemen are simply presented with a fait accompli - we’re going there, we’re opening fire there. They’re only asked for their opinion - whether they are ready or not - at the staffing stage. Those who say they are ready are given an order. And those who are not ready do not receive this order at all", said the lawyer.
Contract soldier Vasily Nikitenko, an engineer with one of the Siberian units, refused to go to Ukraine, but he may soon find himself in this war anyway.
In the very first week of the war, the commander asked Vasily and other servicemen from his unit whether they wanted to take part in the "special operation". Having received a negative response from many of them, he asked these soldiers to write a report on the reason for their refusal. Thereafter, those who refused had to write such reports every week. After several such refusals, Nikitenko was summoned and told that he would be fired for failure to fulfil the terms of his contract.
Later, the unit received a telegram from a superior headquarters to say that despite his refusal, Nikitenko still had to go to one of the border regions.
"According to more experienced people, I am going to be at the disposal of my direct superior, and there will be no crossing of the border. But, knowing how it all works in the structure of the armed forces, I am sure that there will be. Naturally, I will also issue a refusal there, and then it’s not far from a criminal case for desertion", Nikitenko predicts.
Unable to punish their subordinates within the framework of the Criminal Code, commanders are trying to put pressure on objectors using threats and humiliation.
"Comrade Colonel, load him onto an armoured personnel carrier tomorrow and take him away, understand? Tomorrow load him and take him away, and report to me! You can f**king tie him on there... shove him on there like a plastic bag..." This is how one of the commanders reacted to serviceman Valery Redkin’s refusal to go back to the war in Ukraine shortly after returning from there.
In the recording of this conversation, the commander calls Redkin a "snake", a "cowardly creature", a "jerk", a "bastard" and a "scumbag".
There have also been cases where an objector’s parents have received letters containing allegations that their son had "fallen short of the high title of ‘Defender of the Fatherland’, withdrawn from the performance of his official duties, refused (was too frightened) to go to military exercises, thereby negligently fulfilling his official duties, embarked on the path of crime, and set a bad example to his fellow soldiers".
Commanders also threaten criminal prosecution.
"You can’t refuse to go. If you don’t go there - you'll be f**king stomping around a prison yard for 15 years", the commander of another serviceman, Valery Solovyov, says on another recording.
The publication notes that a contract soldier’s refusal to participate in the "special operation" may result in dismissal. But often that’s what the soldier himself wants.
There have also been cases of pilots refusing to go to Ukraine. According to Mediazona’s source, who is familiar with the procedure in which one of them was dismissed, the pilot said that he would not carry out an assignment when he heard the commander’s description of it on a voice recording. When he was sent to talk to the commander, the pilot told him that he did not consider Ukraine an enemy and called the war unjust.
The commander began to persuade the pilot, using arguments comparable to how propagandists on Russian television justify the war. Following this refusal, the pilot was threatened with dismissal, but was never fired.