Russian Federation

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recently issued a report on the human rights situation in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

The report covers the human rights developments in the region from 22 February 2014 to 12 September 2017. As well as various other issues, the report includes rights violations in relation to ongoing military conscription by the Russian armed forces in the region.

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia on the grounds that they are an extremist organisation. The liquidation ruling, made on 20th April 2017 and upheld on 17th July 2017, means that the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre and all 395 regional organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are subject to liquidation, and their property can now be seized by the state. The ruling affects tens of thousands, including many conscientious objectors who are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Alena Karaliova is a human rights lawyer.  In 2012, she started working on the protection of the rights of conscripts, both those doing military service and those doing alternative civilian service.  Her main spheres of activity are in providing legal and assistance; carrying out legal and comparative analysis of regulatory legal acts relating to conscription, military service and alternative service; and interacting with international human rights organisations.  Writing here, she gives us an overview of the campaign for alternative service in Russia.    

In Russia: men from the age of 18 to 27 are subject to conscription if they are considered to be in ‘good health’.  This lasts for one year, with only one day off per week and no vacation.  Usually, only a third of all men of conscription age are actually conscripted (a third cannot serve due to bad health and a third are not conscripted at all because there is no need).

Björn Kunter

Russian Propaganda and the international Peace Movement

The freedom movement in Ukraine has received a lot of international attention during the Euromaidan events, but just very limited international support. Instead, it fell victim to an international defamation wave. This can partly be explained by failures of the movement, as some protesters turned violent and the movement failed to denounce itself from right wing elements. But more importantly the international peace movement, especially in Europe, must realize that it has been targeted by a massive propaganda campaign as part of Russia's hybrid warfare. Instincts from the cold war as a distrust of official media and empathy toward the Kremlin's interests, have been a fertile ground for the seeds of hate and desolidarisation with Ukrainian democracy and human rights activists.

Young men from Chechnya are being drafted into Russia's armed forces for the first time in 20 years. Chechen youth stopped being drafted to the Russian Army in late 1994, when the Kremlin sent the military into Chechnya to try to crush its separatist leadership. Some are claiming the lack of recruitment in the North Caucasus since then was 'discriminatory' against Chechen youth who wanted to defend the Russian 'homeland' of which they are citizens, and that the move to start recruiting them again is therefore progressive, a sign of 'political success' and inclusivity, though it cannot be denied that Russia's shrinking population and other problems are leading to a shortfall in army recruitment.

Meanwhile the Russian government are threatening to imprison a Lithuanian who left the Sovietarmy in 1990, after Lithuania declared independence from Russia. As a response, the Lithuanian State Security Department has advised the 1500+ Lithuanians who refused military service after 1990 not to travel to Russia.

Sources:

The Times, Russian threatens to jail hundreds of Lithuanians, 10 September 2014

 Russian News Agency

Russian News Agency

Jamestown Foundation

Faced with a high rate of draft evasion, Russia's military is trying to lure conscripts with new benefits, RIA Novosti reports. According to RIA Novosti, the government is considering to provide former conscripts with free training for university entrance exams, and grants for university graduates who are former conscripts to continue their education in Russian and foreign business schools. In addition, former conscripts will receive benefits when entering the state's civil service.

Faced with a declining number of men in the prime draft age group and increasing resistance even among them, the Russian defense ministry is calling for extending the length of time during which the spring draft will take place, drafting men as old as 30, reducing the number of deferments and bringing to justice those who illegally avoid service, Eurasia Review reported on 1 May 2010.

Rafael Uzcategui

On his most recent visit to Venezuela, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin revealed that the value of arms bought by the government in Caracas amounted to over five billion US dollars.

According to statistics provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in the past ten years, 77.6% of total arms imports to Latin American countries were from Russia. Amongst these acquisitions, Mi-17 and Mi-35 Sukhoi fighter planes , Kalashnikov assault rifles, and an agreement to install a factory which produces rifles and munitions, S-300 tanks, and anti-aircraft missiles.

A representative of the organisation Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg told RFE/RL that they have received a large number of phone calls from people complaining that local military recruitment offices "are literally hunting for young men on the streets, in supermarkets, and the subway to forcibly enlist them into the army", RFL/RL reported on 22 December 2009.

According to an article in the Financial Times, Russia aims to abolish conscription by 2012, as part of a modernisation of the Russian military. However, these reforms are contentious in Russia.

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