Traditionally, the Belarusian regime and their enforcers do everything to present conscientious objectors on mass media either as criminals, or as negligent people who just do not fulfill their obligations to the state.  However, a case in the town of Lahishyn became an exception: there, participants of the judicial proceeding had to acknowledge they were dealing with a person who did not want to have any relations to the murder machine – the army.

That proceeding took place a year ago, at the beginning of August, 2022. A 21-year-old resident of the town of Lahishyn did not show up at the conscription site of the military registration  and enlistment office at the prescribed time. Because of that, a criminal case was launched against him. However, at the interrogation the young man claimed: “I just do not want to serve in the army”.

During the preliminary investigation, the defendant pleaded guilty and confirmed it in court. Also, he was persistently saying that there was only one motive for that: he just did not want to serve in the army.

It is known that the young man had already had several deferments from military service for different reasons. When he received another draft notice, he was warned about criminal liability for evading military service, and his personal signature on the documents of the military registration and enlistment office confirms that.

He knew that on February 15, 2022, he had to appear at the military registration and enlistment office. Nevertheless, at the beginning of January he left for Moscow. Unlike dozens of young Belarusians who did the same, he did not hide, his whereabouts were known, the young man-maintained correspondence with the local district officer informing him about when he was going to come back home.  So he did, he returned home and a few days after that became a defendant in a criminal case.

A circuit court was held at the military registration and enlistment office of the town of Pinsk and Pinsk district. The young man was charged with an offence under Part 1 Art. 435 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, i.e., with evasion from activities on draft to the military service.

Nevertheless, they were not able to publicly reproach and condemn the objector, as they had been planning to do in order to intimidate other potential soldiers. The court was in dismay: the young man was not hiding, was not worming his way out, was not looking for an excuse, but openly spoke about his unwillingness to serve in the army. In the result, the court considered the defendant’s admission of guilt as mitigating circumstances. The young man was sentenced to 360 hours of community service.

That is, his principled stand allowed the young man to avoid both the imprisonment and a huge fine, a case which is indeed unique for Belarus.

It is interesting, how the chief enlistment officer of the town of Pinsk and Pinsky district, Andrei Anufryiuk, commented on the situation. He admitted that in spite of their vigorous activity, the punitive bodies do not manage to bring the number of «evaders» to zero. Every year, Pinsk and Pinsky district send about 200 people to do military service, and every year there are from 7 to 15 people who do not want to serve in the army.

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