Russia: Digest from the Movement of Conscientious Objection

October 2023

(October 2023) Hello! Artyom Klyga is with you again with the MCO digest for October 2023. Conscription in Russia started again and police have already detained men even in mosques. Organisations are afraid of receiving updated fines, and therefore they are putting their military records in order. It is a sad case law – the courts believe that the age of discharge from military service after mobilisation is 65 years old, not 50. The MCO sent its proposals and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review.

Ordinary autumn conscription for military service has started in Russia

On October 1st, another conscription for military service began in Russia. It will last until the end of the year. Military offices plan to conscript 130,000 people into the army, which is 17,000 less than in the previous conscription campaign. Most likely, the conscription will take place according to the same rules and with the same violations as previous conscription campaigns. Registration of conscripts will be maintained without the use of electronic registers. Military offices will also not be able to introduce any restrictions for now: for example, a ban on leaving the country or economic restrictions. The corresponding by-laws regulating these issues simply did not have time to be prepared and adopted. However, from October 1st, new fines for violating the rules of interaction with the military office will come into force. In most cases, fines have increased significantly: for failure to appear at the military office without a good reason, the fine can be up to 300 euros instead of 50 euros, which were previously assigned.

For companies, liability for failure to report information about their employees to military offices has been tightened

Fines have been updated not only for conscripts. From October 1st, administrative liability was introduced for legal entities both during mobilisation and during ordinary conscription for military service. In particular, organisations will be required to notify the military offices of a change in place of residence or place of stay, marital status, level of education, or position at work of their employees within 5 days. If this is not done, a fine of 400 to 500 euros is possible. Organisations will also be required to report whether an employee has been hired or fired. The same rule applies to educational organisations - they will be required to notify the military office about the enrolment and expulsion of a student. The organisation will also be obliged to notify its employees (students) about calls from the military office and provide them with the opportunity to appear on time when summoned. Ignoring the obligation will be punishable by a fine of up to 4,000 euros per legal entity.

The courts believe that the maximum age for a serviceman to be discharged from military service during the period of mobilisation is 65 years

According to Russian legislation, it is established that conscripts have the right to be discharged from military service upon reaching the minimum age of 50 years. However, in June, a separate law was adopted, which established that for contract soldiers, that is, those who themselves signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence, the minimum age is 65 years. Cassation courts began to argue that this norm applies not only to contract soldiers, but also to mobilized ones. This position greatly changes the real state of affairs, because those mobilized at the age of 49, according to the logic of the law, still have the right to legal dismissal. However, the courts are trying to deny them this right. The fact that the position of the courts has already been communicated to the headquarters of the Southern Military District of Russia is also not in favour of the military personnel. It is this headquarters that is responsible for the current war between Russia and Ukraine.

Migrants and Russian citizens are raided in mosques and other houses of worship

The ongoing conscription and mobilisation affect migrants and Russian citizens who recently received their citizenship. The police are literally breaking into mosques or other houses of worship and detaining men of military age. The further situation depends on whether the detained person has citizenship. If he has it, then the man is sent to compulsory military service; if not, he is offered through threats or deception to sign a contract and go to war. The Russian authorities have greatly simplified the conditions for concluding a military contract with foreign citizens, and have also legalised a simplified procedure for obtaining citizenship for them and their family members, subject to signing a military contract for a period of at least a year. Therefore, first they may try to persuade migrants to sign a contract due to the availability of a large number of benefits, and only then they may begin to threaten them with criminal or other liability (which in fact is not provided in the legislation).

The MCO sent proposals and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council

The MCO participated in the preparation of materials for the working group on the Universal Periodic Review. Our proposals and recommendations for both the Russian government and the governments of other states were sent to the UN Human Rights Council, which were reflected in the final summary of materials. In its report, the MCO highlighted the issues of deterioration of military legislation and, as a consequence, violation of human rights in Russia during the period of ordinary military conscription and mobilisation conscription; highlighted the issues of international protection of conscientious objectors from military service who were forced to leave Russia, noted problems with certain groups of people who are literally deprived of the opportunity to apply for alternative civil service (Jehovah’s Witnesses). 

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Movement of Conscientious Objection Russia (MCO): Digest October 2023

Keywords:    ⇒ Conscientious Objection   ⇒ Recruitment   ⇒ Russia   ⇒ War