Posts Tagged ‘conscription’
In St. Petersburg, in the early morning hours of April 1st (April Fool’s Day, and the day on which the spring call-up of Russian youth for military service was ironically to begin), persons unknown surrounded the local draft board office with construction ribbons, as shown above, blocking access by military officials who arrived in the morning to commence the draft proceedings.
The area was also leafleted heavily, all long the streets leading to the nearest subway station, as shown above. The leaflets announced “the beginning of hunting season on people” and stated that “young people are wanted for transfer into slavery.”
We believe that this anonymous action was intended to express a protest against the start of the spring conscription cycle in particular, and against the concept of an involuntary military in general.
In anticipation of the March the authorities took aggressive action to prevent it and intimidate those who participated. We were banned from deploying any banners. But we did so anyway. There were over two hundred participants, including members of such groups as Memorial and For Human Rights, as well as ordinary citizens concerned with the rights of Russia’s conscripts. We marched shoulder-to-shoulder to the Ostakino TV Tower proclaiming: “We need a new army! End military slavery now!”
The March culminated with a concert at the TV tower, and then dispersed. On the way ot the subway station, a gang of thugs attacked several members, but did not succeed in provoking us to violence as was undoubtedly their aim.
We, citizens of Russia, believe that service in the army should be voluntary, and that the institution of draft-slavery is an unacceptable anachronism in a modern society. Those who are not inclined to military service can serve their country in other ways. Universal military conscription must end now!
We believe that a strong army can only be made up of volunteers, not conscripts consisting of poorly trained and equipped slaves who are often subjected to torture and murder, always victimized by officers looking for free labor. We, the citizens of Russia, demand a strong army. A volunteer army is a strong army!
We demand immediate changes in the legislation of the Russian Federation on Military Duty and Military Service, deleting all provisions relating to forced conscription, the repeal of the articles of the Penal Code applicable to draft evasion, the cessation of all criminal cases under this heading, and full amnesty for all convicted this article. We demand the immediate cessation of the so-called “raids on fugitives from the call,” especially given the fact that many victims of these raids have legitimate deferment or exemption from conscription. In fact, we strongly demand the cessation of criminal mass kidnappings for recruitment by illegal means.
We can change the situation in the Russian army. We can say “NO” state arbitrariness. All that we have to do is . . . say it loud and clear as one.
Note: This interview was originally published on Robert Amsterdam’s blog.
INTRODUCTION: The leader of “Oborona”, Oleg Kozlovsky, definitely creates the impression of a thinking, daring person, interested in the fate of his country. Oleg is an active participant in and organizer of the “Dissenters’ Marches” — public protest actions by citizens of Russia against the arbitrariness of the powers. To these actions, the power responds with even greater arbitrariness — arrests of the activists, the filing of fabricated criminal charges, beatings. Oleg has already spent five days in a cell at a “special receiver” (that’s what they call the place where they hold persons who have been temporarily arrested; previously, these establishments were used exclusively for holding alcoholics and street vagrants. The Putinite power has come up with the idea of holding political prisoners and all manner of dissenters in them) for participating in an allegedly unsanctioned rally (the fact is that under the Constitution of the Russian Federation, permission is not required to hold a rally — the organizers simply have to notify the power of the place and time such a rally will be held). Then it turned out that Oleg Kozlovsky is so disliked by the Putinite power that they had decided to isolate him for a long time. But here, let him tell us in his own words how this took place.
GRIGORI PASKO: Oleg, how did it happen that almost immediately after the “vagrants’ cell” at the “special receiver” section, they forcibly “shaved you into a soldier”?
[Translator's Note: The Russian idiom used by Pasko, zabrit' v soldaty, refers to the fact that one of the first things done to a young man to turn him from a civilian into a conscript is to completely shave his head (this is also done with new prisoners)]
OLEG KOZLOVSKY: Everything happened unexpectedly. After getting out of the “special receiver,” section, police officers came to the address of my certificate of domicile in Moscow and started asking the neighbors about me, supposedly because someone suspected of extremism had come to me. When I was leaving for a while to Ukraine, police officers stopped me at the railroad station and said that I was an extremist. I felt that something was afoot. On the Day of the Chekist, 20 December of last year, I went out of the house in the morning. Suddenly I was stopped by policemen and two in civilian clothing [colloquial Russian for plainclothes officers working for "the organs" --Trans.] (later, at the military commissariat, they told me that they were from the FSB). The policemen said that they have a paper from the military commissariat and that I need to go there.