Russia/Britain: Russian deserter granted asylum in Britain

In a landmark case, the UKs Immigration Appeal Tribunal granted asylum to a Russian deserter. The person in question deserted from the Russian Army in Grozny in Chechnya shortly after being sent there in 1999, and fled to Britain. The Tribunal concluded: "He had been called up for service after deferments and had received three months training. He objected to serving in the war in Chechnya on a variety of grounds: he saw no reason to fight the Chechens or to risk his life unnecessarily in doing so; he objected to the war as politically motivated and although he had no in principle objection to war in circumstances such as those of the Second World War, he objected to one in which he said he would be required to 'kill innocent civilians and destroy property in a reprehensible manner'."

The Tribunal considered the questions whether the Russian Armed Forces conducted the war in Chechnya in a manner which violates basic rules of human conduct, and whether the deserter would have been forced to participate in such actions. It concluded, "that at least during the period of large scale conflict the evidence shows that breaches of those basic rules were widespread. They probably had elements of deliberate policy as well as of the random, but not isolated, acts of many soldiers behind them."

"In the light of ...the evidence which we have had as to the position at what we have taken as the relevant time, we have concluded that the evidence shows that breaches of the basis rule of human conduct are sufficiently widespread that it should be inferred that the Appelant was at a real risk of being required to participate in such acts in the broad sense described, that he would have been formally or informally punished for any refusal to do so and that fear of the consequences was a significant part of his claim for asylum".
Source: Immigration Appeal Tribunal, date of hearing: 18 May 2004, date determination notified: 29 October 2004