The rights of soldiers and their families: Our new Afghanistan?

posted 23 Sep 2015, 12:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Sep 2015, 13:02 ]
21 September 2015

Source: HRO.org (info)
The contract soldiers in Novorossiisk who refused to be sent to Syria have been threatened with criminal prosecution on grounds of state treason. According to the lawyer Ivan Pavlov ‘soldiers currently under investigation by state security services are being detained in their barracks.’ 

As Kasparov.ru reports, on 20 September Gazeta.ru published the story, quoting the leader of the legal group Komanda 29, Ivan Pavlov.

‘The office of the Military Prosecutor is turning a blind eye to reports from the Presidential Human Rights Council, that has taken up their cases, and is doing nothing to address the complaints of the conscripts, who say that their rights are being violated and that they are not being given any information about deployment to a new hot spot,’ said Pavlov. ‘What is more, instead of their rights being protected, now special military agents and the FSB have got involved. An investigation has begun and conscripts have gone from being interrogated and threatened all the way to facing criminal prosecution. The articles under which they might be charged have not been named but it follows from what is being said that they are facing charges as serious as state treason.’

According to lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, ‘soldiers currently under investigation by state security services are being detained in their barracks.’

‘Nobody involved in the investigation has kept the relatives of the conscripts informed. Their families are in shock. They are being kept completely in the dark about what is happening,’ the lawyer said. ‘We are going to keep a close eye on the matter and if an official process begins, then our group ‘Komanda 29’ are ready to step up to the defence.’

The lawyer maintains that since no mobilisation of troops has been officially announced, soldiers that are being sent abroad must without question be presented with a written order, something that provides for social guarantees to which they are entitled.

Moreover, the lawyer declared, military doctors do not have the right to enter records about the state of soldiers’ health without their knowledge.

The enquiry by the Human Rights Council into the violation of soldiers’ rights has been addressed to Nikolai Pankov, the deputy minister of defence of the Russian Federation, said Sergei Krivenko, a member of the Council.

‘Instead of ensuring that soldiers’ rights remain intact, they have handed over the matter to the FSB,’ said Sergei Krivenko

‘They are being sent off without any official order and so in the case of death, the situation will be that ‘they weren’t there.’

‘If they weren’t there, what talk can there be of compensation payments in the case of injury or death? If one of them were to be captured it would be an unthinkable situation for their loved ones,’ says Anna Kashirtseva from the Mother’s Right Foundation. ‘Nobody’s going to look for them in Syria, and even if their relatives wanted to, it would be unlikely that they could organize a search for the missing soldier there.’

According to her, their organization has seen countless examples of mothers of dead conscripts having to go to extraordinary lengths to obtain the payments that are legally owed to them, even in situations where the soldier has been officially deployed to a hot spot and even in instances where the deceased is a Russian ‘hero’.

‘But even without the examples everything is clear: ‘the heroes’ of this story went to the office of the Military Prosecutor and could not even get a basic statement of fact issued. Just imagine how many official thresholds parents and widows of loved ones killed in Syria will have to cross in the search for justice, and how their applications and requests for their ‘guaranteed’ compensation payments will be refused. All that you can do in such a situation is rip up the contract’, said Anna Kashirtseva.

Meanwhile, a source in the Ministry of Defence declared that it was no wonder a scandal erupted around the sending of Russian soldiers to Syria. ’These lads who didn’t want to be sent from Novorossiisk to Syria are from combined companies, and with these types there are always problems. Combined companies were sent to Chechnya during the first campaign and as a result, it was a complete mess - nobody knew who was doing what and nobody knew who they could depend on and who not. On the whole there were lots of problems because of this,’ the source explains. In the Second Chechen War, cohesive units were sent to Chechnya; they had worked with each other for a long time and knew how to act together. It makes no sense to step on the same rake twice in the Syrian campaign with these combined companies.’

Translated by Detzi Chocieszynski 
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