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Modernization of the country is impossible while conscription is maintained in its traditional form

Source: (info), 12/10/11

Twenty-two human rights organizations from 14 Russian regions have issued an appeal to the President of the Russian Federation over the death of conscript Ruslan Aiderkhanov. “We are convinced that modernization of the country is impossible while conscription is maintained in its traditional form,” the authors of the appeal declare.

Dear Dmitry Anatolievich!

Yet one more tragedy has taken place in the Russian army with the death of Ruslan Aiderkhanov, a conscript in military unit 55062 in Elansk garrison. His body was found hanging from a tree outside the unit’s limits. Relatives, who despite the ban by the military authorities opened the coffin, discovered a knife wound on his body, together with numerous injuries and marks of torture. Military investigators and prosecutors have stated that the soldier committed suicide.

Independent experts believe that he was hung up after his death.

The terrible death of conscript Ruslan Aiderkhanov in the Russian army and the attempts to present his murder as suicide force us once again to ask with indignation these questions of the leadership of the country and the army:

- What are the professional level and moral qualities of those staffing the military justice system if, with evidence of numerous signs of violence, they still conclude that this was a suicide?

- What right does the military command and investigation have to order the Ruslan’s family - civilians - not to open the coffin containing the body of their son?

- Why, when for years now there have been complaints about the violence in the military units of Elansk garrison, and in many other sadly notorious units, have no serious measures been taken?

We know and declare that this tragedy is only one episode among tens and hundreds of similar ones. And today, after the loud declarations made at the very highest level about the ‘humanization’ of the conscription system, about the ‘new look’ of the army, young Russian men continue to die on firing ranges during the destruction of out-of-date ammunition, when they are sent off base to do work that has nothing to do with their duties, in military units from the violence in the barracks, from cold infections and the failure to provide medical assistance.

In our country the young men who do not want to go where they can be treated like Ruslan was treated, and the young men who are forced to leave their units because of threats to their lives, are considered to be criminals. This is barbarism should not be tolerated in a state striving to be modern and wishing to have the respect of the international community and of its own citizens.

We are filled with admiration for the civic courage and wisdom of the fellow villagers of Ruslan Aiderkhanov and the inhabitants of the Nyzepetrovsk district of Chelyabinsk region who have declared they are ready to stop conscription in their district until a proper investigation of this case has been carried out.

We believe that over the years of the failure to tell the truth, the sabotage of reforms, and the introduction of “cosmetic” changes, enough evidence has built up to show that it is impossible to improve the situation while maintaining the current system of conscription.

We demand the abolition of compulsory military service, or at least its suspension while new legislation is developed that would be in line with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and Russia’s international human rights obligations. This legislation would regulate the conduct of conscription and clearly establish that its sole purpose is the preparation of a trained military reserve.

We demand the disbanding of the military justice system.

We are convinced that modernization of the country is impossible while conscription is maintained in its traditional form.

The appeal has been signed by:

Alferteva, T. Ya. - Penza Memorial;
Afanasievea V. V. – Pskov Council of Soldiers’ Mothers;
Babynina V. L. – Krymsk organization of soldiers’ mothers For Our Sons, Krymsk, Krasnodar region;
Bontsler, M.V.;
Mareev, V.A. – Kaliningrad Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers;
Burmitsky, M. V. – Legal Action Agency, Moscow;
Vakhnina, L.V. – Memorial Human Rights Centre, Moscow;
Elkina, A. – Murmansk Soldiers’ Mothers Commitee;
Ignatiev, Yu. - Murmansk Region Soldiers’ Mothers Commitee;
Kalikh, A.A. – Centre for the Development of Democracy & Human Rights, Moscow;
Kalikh, A.M. – Perm Memorial;
Kizilova, I.D. – Centre for the Support of Democratic Youth Initiatives, Perm;
Kotlyar, T.M. – human rights defender, Obninsk, Kaluga region;
Mikhailova, T.P. – Orel Region Soldiers’ Mothers’ Committee, Livny;
Paikachev, G. – Peacemaker Youth Human Rights Group, Murmansk;
Paikachova, I.V. - Murmansk Memorial;
Paikachev, V. – Murmansk Memorial;
Pastukhova, A.Y. – Ekaterinburg Memorial;
Polyakova, E.M. – St. Petersburg Soliders’ Mothers;
Ponomareva, N.A. – Mother’s Rights, Volgograd;
Reshetkina, V.V. – Khabarovsk Committee of Solidiers’ Mothers;
Starovoitova, V.V. – Orel Council of Soldiers’ Mothers, Orel;
Feldshtein, E.Z. – Dzerzhinsk Human Rights Centre, Nizhnii Novgorod Region
Shmakov, P.B. - Khabarovsk Region Human Rights Centre.

The representatives of organizations signing the appeal to the President wish to inform the citizens of Russia that a collection of signatures has been organized for the appeal made by Ruslan’s fellow villagers demanding that an impartial investigation be conducted into the circumstances of his death and that those guilty be brought to justice.

Signatures are being collected here: