German Federal Ministry of Interior assures Russian deserters of protection
Military service evaders from Russia excluded from protection pledge
The conscientious objection network Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL welcome the statement of the Ministry of the Interior that Russian deserters are assured protection. At the same time, the organizations point out that protection assurances are still lacking: For military service evaders from Russia, for conscientious objectors and military service deserters from Belarus and Ukraine.
In a statement to the Interior Committee of the Bundestag, the Ministry of the Interior had stated on May 17, 2022, that "in the case of credibly made desertion of Russian asylum seekers, it is currently generally assumed that there is a threat of persecution in the case of return to the Russian Federation." Supplementing this, the Interior Ministry writes: "Since even the term ’war,’ referring to the attack on Ukraine, can be punished in the Russian Federation as an oppositional political representation, desertion - as an active expression against waging war - can be considered an expression of oppositional conviction."
"The fact that Russian deserters are being offered protection in the asylum process is an important first step," Günter Burkhardt, Director of PRO ASYL, said today. "Until now, there have been many hurdles for deserters in the German asylum procedure despite their decision not to participate in the war. The current statement of the BMI will hopefully lead to a faster granting of a protection status for Russian deserters."
Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL point out at the same time that in the communication of the Ministry of the Interior explicitly "military service fugitives are not included in the explanations". "It is an intolerable state of affairs that people who evade recruitment to the military and war in time are excluded from the regulation," explains Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V. "We need a clear commitment from the German government that military service draft evasion in Russia in times of war in Ukraine is also considered an oppositional political stance and that these people will thus also receive the necessary protection."
The organizations also regret that even the threat of recruitment and indirect war participation of Belarus is not included in the statement of the Ministry of Interior. In an appeal to the Bundestag published in March 2022, the organizations, together with 40 other organizations, demand that asylum also be granted to Belarusian servicemen and servicewomen who have evaded military service and thus possible war involvement in Ukraine or who have deserted.
In addition, the German government lacks a clear commitment to the human right to conscientious objection, especially with regard to Ukraine. "It has been shown," said Rudi Friedrich, "that both in Russia and in Belarus, and especially in Ukraine, the regulations on the right to conscientious objection are completely inadequate. It is no wonder that thousands of conscripts from Ukraine have also fled abroad. They are denied the right to conscientious objection in their country of origin. They too need protection after the expiration of the current residence regime for refugees from Ukraine."
PRO ASYL and Connection e.V.: Press release, May 19, 2022