Crimea: Forced Enlistment
120. Since the occupation began, residents of Crimea have been subjected to
conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Until 31 December 2016,
military service could only take place on the territory of the Crimean peninsula.134 Since
2017, conscripts can also be sent to serve on the territory of the Russian Federation. On 25
May 2017, 30 conscripts from Sevastopol were sent to the Russian Federation after
reportedly expressing the will to serve there.135
121. OHCHR spoke to several Crimean Tatars who left the peninsula to avoid serving
in the Russian Federation army. They stated they could not return to Crimea as they would
be prosecuted for avoiding the draft.136 On 12 April 2017, the Military Commissioner of the
Russian Federation in Crimea announced that a criminal case had been opened against a
resident of Crimea who refused to serve in the Russian Federation army.
122. OHCHR notes that under international humanitarian law, an occupying power is
prohibited from compelling protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces or to
exercise pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment.137
144. On 9 June 2017, a Jehovah Witness was told at a military conscription centre in Crimea that he could not invoke his right to an alternative civilian service under Russian Federation legislation unless he renounced his faith and changed his religion.166
134 Article 7, Treaty of Accession between the Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation (18 March 2014).
135 This figure was announced by the military commissioner of Sevastopol, Alexei Astakhov, on 25 May 2017.
136 HRMMU interviews, 20 November 2015 and 13 October 2016.
137 Article 51, Geneva Convention IV.
UN Human Rights Council: Excerpts from the report „Situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)“, A/HRC/36/CRP. 25 September 2017.