Refuseniks from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine say no to war

by Connection e.V. und PRO ASYL

On the occasion of Refugee Day on 30 September, PRO ASYL and Connection e.V. present voices of conscientious objectors from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. All of them are threatened with criminal proceedings in their countries of origin and need protection from persecution. The German government is to make generous use of their options to grant humanitarian visas.

On the occasion of Refugee Day as part of the nationwide Intercultural Week, PRO ASYL, together with the association Connection e.V., calls for safe access channels for people seeking protection, especially also for deserters, conscientious objectors and military draftees from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. "It is gratifying that the Federal Government promises them protection, but this lip service must now be followed by action. If - as has been the case so far - they have no chance of getting to Germany at all, such promises of protection are window dressing," explains Rudi Friedrich, executive director of the conscientious objection network Connection e.V., adding: "So far, there has been no promise of protection for the vast majority of military draftees."

"Europe’s borders are closed, refugees are being sent back - whether Russian draft evaders, human rights activists from Afghanistan, opposition Turks or protection seekers from Syria," adds PRO ASYL Executive Director Günter Burkhardt and demands: "In order for these people to have a chance to apply for asylum here, the German government should increasingly issue humanitarian visas to those who have fled to countries like Turkey."

Conscientious objectors speak out

Both organisations also published interviews with conscientious objectors from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine today. Those examples show the importance of supporting people who oppose war in their countries:

Mark Romankov, Russia: "My partner is from Ukraine, as are her parents. I just cannot imagine how to serve in an army and fight their family. That is completely unthinkable. Serving in the Russian army is nothing to be proud of." (

Maksim Gaidukov, Russia: "There are young Russian men being sent to Ukraine to murder people and die for it. They are being betrayed and abused. I don’t want to be part of this." (

Ilya Ovcharenko; Ukraine: "I want to make clear how dangerous patriotism is. Clarify how absurd it is to sacrifice so many lives to correct a border line on the map." (

Vlad, Belarus: "Most of them think like me. They are young, they want to live, not die. They know that war will only bring suffering and death." (

Igor, Belarus: "When you are threatened not only by the army, but by a real war, and you are not on the side of good at all, it is better to drop everything." (

Borders must be opened

In view of the current flight movements from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, PRO ASYL and Connection e.V. demand:

- Russian citizens should also be able to apply for admission to the European Union from countries outside Russia. A non-bureaucratic solution is needed to protect them from deportation from another country back to Russia.

- Borders must be opened! Refugees must have the possibility to reach countries that can grant them a safe stay. Current visa regulations prevent many from reaching safe countries. Reception of those seeking protection can only succeed if illegal pushbacks are stopped and people are given access to a fair asylum procedure.

- Regarding the granting of asylum or other residence status, EU countries must not only develop criteria for deserters, but above all find solutions for the large number of military draftees, e.g. for draft evaders. They would be subject to recruitment for war if forcibly returned to Russia.

- The EU should adopt a reception programme so that those Russian citizens who have turned away from their country’s government at great risk are given opportunities for training and employment.

- Ukrainian conscientious objectors who face multi-year prison sentences as a result of their decision also deserve the EU’s support and must be given the chance of protection here.

Further information is to be found at

Connection e.V. and Pro Asyl: Press release, September 29, 2022

Keywords:    ⇒ Belarus   ⇒ CO and Asylum   ⇒ Conscientious Objection   ⇒ Objectors Report   ⇒ Russia   ⇒ Ukraine