Another public trial of a young man who does not desire to serve in the army, was held in Belarus. This story is notable for the fact that while conducting the case, the officials disclosed the real scale of objection issue.
In the April of 2023, at the base of the military conscription and enlistment office of Rechitsky and Loevsky districts, a court’s retreat was held. A court’s retreat in Belarus is a public trial, which means that students of local schools and their parents, as well as random young people who may be subject to military service, were herded together to attend it. Actually, the Belarusian regime is more and more often holding such public trials of the cases under Article 435 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (evasion from activities on draft to the military service), so to say, “for disciplinary purposes”.
The young man, a native of the town Vasilevichy, who was tried, in publications of the prosecutor’s office was indicated as “K.”. He had already had record, his sentence was served, and he was going on and off to work in Moscow. However, in 2019, he received a draft notice. When he received it, K. came to the military conscription and enlistment office where he was told to undergo a medical examination and to get ready for army life.
Instead, the young man went to Russia again. He was working and living in Moscow, when he was detained there, as many other Belarusian objectors like him. After that, K. was given instructions to show up at Rechitsa District Office of Internal Affairs, the body that had put him on a wanted list as a draft evader. Nevertheless, the young man ignored those instructions. After many vicissitudes, K. was taken into custody in Russia and transported under guard to his place of residence in Belarus. Since October, 2022, he was in custody in Belarus at a pre-trial detention facility, waiting for the trial.
Article 435 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, under which he was charged, provides for serious sanctions, up to two years of imprisonment. The state prosecutor demanded one year of imprisonment including five months of the detention at the pre-trial detention facility, each day of the pre-trial detention should be counted as 1.5 days of imprisonment. The court passed a different sentence: three months of arrest. In fact, the defendant had already served that, therefore, he was released in the courtroom. As state lawyers noted, most probably, in a year, the young man’s criminal record will be expunged, and they will attempt to conscript him to the military service once again.
Commenting on the situation to the regime’s mass media, the head of the Conscription Department of the Military Conscription and Enlistment Office of Rechitsky and Loevsky districts, Vladimir Osipov, said: “According to the plan, we have to conscript about two hundred people from Rechitsky district. We already have about a hundred. Another seventy are undergoing medical examination. Considering that medical criteria have changed, the percentage of people suitable for military service will increase from about forty to eighty. There is such a term “limited to fit”: that is, for example, there is a person with flatfoot, he can serve as a driver, as a signal operator, where he does not have to strain his feet too much. As of today, we have over 20 people [evading conscription] who are long-sought fugitives, and one who is hiding in the territory of the Russian Federation”.
There are 118 districts in Belarus. If each of them has in average over 20 conscientious objectors from military service, then the total number amounts to at least 2500 people. Also, traditionally, in the capital and regional centers there are many more people unwilling to serve in the army. So, we can easily multiply the above number by two. Therefore, in Belarus there are about 5000 objectors.
It is more than two fully-fledged mechanized infantry regiments, if you look at the situation with the eyes of military officials. So, no wonder, they are chasing those who does not want to serve in the Belarusian army with such passion.