Stop the deaths at military testing grounds!

posted 27 Nov 2013, 12:25 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Nov 2013, 13:47 ]
25 November 2013

Source: (info)
Twelve regional NGOs have called on minister of defence Sergei Shoigu, chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky and head of the Investigative Committee Aleksandr Bastrykin to stop the use of conscripts to handle old ammunition at military testing grounds.

Declaration: Stop the deaths at military testing grounds! 

From 2010 until the autumn of 2012 the ministry of defence adopted the policy of blowing up old ammunition at military testing grounds. At the same time, conscript labour was used to load, unload and transport the shells in gross violation of labour law, safety rules and special regulations governing dangerous work of this type. The conditions in which the soldiers lived were terrible. They received no payment for their work that corresponded to the inherent difficulties and risks. Many received no payment whatsoever.

Dozens of young men have been killed at the testing grounds. There are reasons to believe that not all the instances of deaths have been made public, nor the scale of the traumas, deaths and serious incapacity that resulted from the failure to provide medical care to conscripts suffering from a range of infections.

This shameful practice has been halted through the joint efforts of the soldiers’ parents, tens of human rights NGOs, the Federal Human Rights Ombudsman, a number of regional human rights ombudsmen, the Presidential Human Rights Council, experts on the industrial use of ammunition, residents and governors of a number of regions who protested against the explosions, and journalists. In December 2012 it was declared that the explosions at the testing grounds had been stopped, and the ammunition would be processed in factories.

And now new tragedies! Now soldiers are being killed who are collecting and blowing up ammunition that has remained from previous years.

Astrakhan regional Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, whose representative A. V. Salin visited Ashuluk on 30 August as a member of a commission, believes that the work to clean up the testing grounds and destroy the remaining ammunition in 2013 is no different from the work to destroy ammunition carried out in previous years. As then, today young men are dying. The conditions of labour and living are intolerable. The military leadership keeps quiet about the violations, the circumstances of the deaths and injuries of soldiers.

Astrakhan regional Soldiers’ Mothers’ Committee has issued the following appeal: 

To the minister of defence S.K. Shoigu – stop the deaths of young men at the Ashuluk military testing ground and other testing groups where work is on-going with old ammunition. Hire licensed professionals to do the work. Pay them money and save the lives of our children. The army is created to protect our Motherland, and not to use soldiers as slave labour.

To the chief military prosecutor S.N.Fridrinsky – use your authority to bring order and to stop the unjustified risks to which soldiers are exposed and their deaths. To do this, hold a meeting with mothers of soldiers who have been killed or seriously injured in the course of reusing or clearing up ammunition, with prosecutors who have inspected the military testing grounds and who claim not to have seen any violations. Mothers of soldiers will tell them what in fact is happening at these locations and why people are being killed.

To the head of the Investigative Committee A.I. Bastrykin - ensure an impartial investigation by military investigators: not to find scapegoats such as Lieutenant Vyacheslav Panikarovsky should be put on trial but the commanders who, in violation of Government Decree No. 925 dated 14 September 2012, sent military service personnel to risk their lives at work without appropriate protection, the commanders of units who forced soldiers to drag shells by hand, and did not even consider it necessary to organize the provision of medical care.

L.I. Garlivanova, A.V. Salin, Astrakhan Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers 

We support the appeal by the Astrakhan Soldiers’ Mothers Committee and intend work together to protect the interests of soldiers, lieutenants, and captains forced to carry out the unlawful orders of high-placed military officials:

G.N. Aletkin – Regional human rights NGO of conscripts’ parents in Tatarstan ‘For the sons’, Kazan
V.L. Babynina - Крымская общественная организация солдатских матерей "За сыновей", г. Крымск Краснодарского края
L.V. Vakhnina – Memorial Human Rights Centre, member of the council of experts of the Federal Human Rights Ombudsman, Moscow
I.D. Kizilova - Perm regional Memorial
T.P.Mikhailova – Orel region Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Livny
E.M.Polyakova – Human rights organization Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg, member of the Presidential Human Rights Council
N.A. Ponomareva – Volgograd human rights organization of parents of military service personnel Mothers’ Right
I.S. Reznikova – Kostroma regional NGO Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers
V.V. Starovoitova - Orel Council of Soldiers’ Mothers
E.Z Feldshtein – Regional NGO Dzerzhinsk Human Rights Centre, Nizhny Novgorod region
P.B. Shmakov – Non-profit organization Khabarovsk Region Human Rights Centre