This report is prepared within the framework of the Belarusian campaign “No Means No”, whose aim is to prevent any involvement of the Belarusian army in the war in Ukraine. This campaign is part of the broader global initiative “ObjectWarCampaign” conducted by a coalition of pacifist and peacebuilding organizations worldwide.

This report is prepared by the International Center for Civil Initiatives “Our House”, a Belarusian human rights and peacebuilding organization operating in Belarus since December 2005. The organization is registered in Lithuania since January 2014 and is currently based in exile in Lithuania.


  1. Summary.

  2. Belarus. Situation with evasion from service in Belarusian army: changes in legislation towards militarization and repression against Belarusian conscientious objectors in Belarus

    1. Common repressive situation for conscientious objectors in Belarus

    2. New repressive legislation worsening the rights of conscientious objectors in Belarus

    3. Criminal prosecution of Belarusian conscientious objectors in Belarus (selected cases)

    4. Pre-military training of boys in Belarus for compulsory military service

    5. Boarding military schools for boys (including orphans) in Belarus promoting the ideology of the “russian world”


This report addresses the lack of comprehensive human rights and peacebuilding expertise on conscientious objectors and deserters in Belarus. Current information is fragmented and fails to address the risks of a potential Belarusian army invasion into Ukraine (see European Bureau for Conscientious Objection , the annual reports and CONCODOC) The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 was preceded by the concentration of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border and a crisis in Russia-Ukraine relations. Belarus has not officially joined the war against Ukraine, but monitoring by Our House under the campaign “No Means No” reveals ongoing extensive preparation of the Belarusian army for a potential invasion of Ukraine (full report:

Conscientious objection to military service is a fundamental human right under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, Belarusian conscientious objectors face dire circumstances, including the introduction of the death penalty for desertion and tightening of legislation on military deferments. Only a limited segment of religious men qualifies for alternative civilian service, while many face criminal prosecution for refusing to join the army.

Seeking refuge in other countries is challenging, as Russia and Lithuania have been extraditing and deporting Belarusian conscientious objectors, citing national security concerns. This situation highlights human rights violations and political manipulations against conscientious objectors. It is crucial to remember that conscientious objection to military service is a fundamental human right protected under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 22 (1993) recognizes that using weapons may clash with this right to freedom of conscience and the right to express one’s beliefs.

Furthermore, the report finds that the Belarusian regime is intensively training children as young as 6 for potential military actions, with a focus on orphans, children with special needs, and marginalized families. European Union’s inaction may lead to a well-prepared army of fanatics with extremist ideologies in 3-5 years. Our House urges immediate action to counter this strategy and calls for support from the EU and human rights organizations. Over 18,000 children participated in military training in 2022, and this poses a long-term threat to Ukraine and potentially the European Union.

In conclusion, Belarusian conscientious objectors encounter considerable obstacles when seeking to legalize their status, both within Belarus and in other countries. As a result, exercising the right to conscientious objection for a Belarusian individual is nearly unattainable given the prevailing conditions. The lack of awareness on this issue contributes to their plight, warranting urgent attention to protect their rights.


Common repressive situation for conscientious objectors in Belarus

According to the law «On military duty and military service» in the Republic of Belarus, an appeal on fixed-term military service is subject to men aged between 18 and 27 years, who are registered or obliged to register in military records and not serving in the reserves. The Belarusian army today has 48,000 soldiers and 12,000 border guards1.

Every young man in Belarus is obliged to serve in the Belarusian army if he has no medical contraindications or official deferment. People with higher education must serve for a year, without higher education – for a year and a half. The conscription into the army is conducted twice a year: in spring and in autumn. Every year about 10 thousand young men are called up to compulsory military service in Belarus.

Due to all the events related to the war, from the beginning of 2022 until today, on the one hand, the Belarusian authorities have been paying increased attention to conscription and increasing the number of conscripts (for example, by easing the medical requirements for military service). On the other hand, more and more Belarusians themselves are actively avoiding conscription and military service.

Article 435 of the Criminal Code of Belarus criminalizes evading military service. Part 1 of this article stipulates a fine, arrest, restriction of liberty for up to two years or imprisonment for the same term. In the case of evading conscription by willfully inflicting oneself an injury, simulation of sickness, forgery of documents, or other deceit, Part 2 of the above-mentioned article applies. It carries a penalty of restriction of liberty for up to five years or imprisonment for the same period.

On the whole, the Criminal Code has several articles that stipulate criminal liability for evading military conscription: evasion from call-up to military service on the mobilization (Art. 434), evasion of regular call-up to active military service (Art. 435), failure of a reservist or person liable for military service to appear for military training or special classes (Art. 436), avoidance of military registration by a conscript or person liable for military duty (Art. 437). The punishment is various: a fine, arrest, restriction of liberty for up to five years or imprisonment for the same term.

Overall, in Belarus, the number of criminal cases related to evasion of both conscription and military service is not publicized, as it is classified information.

Conscription is used as one of the frequent repressive practices of the Belarusian regime for young male protest activists.

The Belarusian army is often criticized for its harsh conditions and poor treatment of soldiers. Those who are conscripted serve for a year to a year and a half and have limited means of communication. There are reports of propaganda, torture, and prohibitions, and family visits are infrequent. For instance, if a soldier is caught with a mobile phone, they can face punishment that includes 15 days in solitary confinement. Sadly, the oppressive environment, humiliation, and abuse in the Belarusian army have led to cases of suicide and extrajudicial executions.

What is the number of conscientious objectors in Belarus?

“Our House” estimates that currently around 5000 young men in Belarus are trying to avoid military service.

We base this figure on information from state media, particularly from an interview with Vladimir Osipov, the head of the conscription department at the military enlistment office of Rechitsa and Loyev districts. He stated the following, “According to the plan for Rechitsa district, we need to call up about two hundred people, and we already have around a hundred. Additionally, approximately seventy people are undergoing medical examination. Considering that the medical criteria have changed, the percentage of fitness for service has increased from about forty to eighty. There is a concept of ‘suitable for military service with some restrictions’, which means that, for example, a person with flat feet can serve as a driver, signalman – in positions where legs are not heavily used. Currently, we have just over twenty people who are being sought for an extended period, and one person who is hiding on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

We have information that a similar situation with Belarusian conscientious objectors exists in all districts. There are 118 districts in Belarus. If each district has an average of more than 20 draft evaders, then we already have at least 2500 people. Moreover, in the capital and regional centers, there are traditionally many more individuals who are unwilling to serve in the army than in the provinces. So, confidently, we can double the previous figure. In total, there are approximately 5000 draft evaders in Belarus.

It is worth separately highlight such a repressive practice as a public show trial of “draft evaders” – traditionally, public trials are conducted for Belarusian conscientious objectors, to which teenagers of draft age are forcibly brought along with their parents and potential objectors.

For Belarusian conscientious objectors, there is also a legislative prohibition on employment – employers are not allowed to hire a man without him presenting a military identity card or a document stating his exemption from military service2.

The new repressive legislation worsening the rights of conscientious objectors in Belarus

On January 20, 2023, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus claimed that the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Health were working on corrections of health requirements for people supposed to join military service and the list of health conditions making people considered unfit for military service. The corrections will affect all the military categories: conscripts, contract soldiers, reservists, students of military higher educational establishments.

– It was motivated by a number of reasons. First of all, by the great number of petitions arriving from citizens who consider that the health demands are too high and they do not allow young people make their dream to become a military man true, – claimed the Deputy Chief of Medical Unit of the Main Military Medical Clinical Centre of the Armed Forces of Belarus, Sviatlana Kashura.

On February 4, 2023, a joint resolution of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Health was published and entered into force, making amendments to the instruction of determining requirements to the state of health of citizens subject to military duty.

Now, Belarusians with the body mass over 100 kg are found unfit for military service in special operation forces of the Armed Forces. Before, the limit was 90 kg. Besides that, young people with obesity of the second degree and body mass index 37 kg/m² are recognized as fit for compulsory military service. Before that, they received the status of NGM (unfit for military service in peace time, partially fit for military service in war time).

Also, according to the new instruction, people with myopia of any eye in one of the meridians from 6.0 to 8.0 diopters, with hemorrhoids without prolapse of nodes, with mild form of bronchial asthma (or without attacks for over 5 years), with some forms of platypodia or foot deformity are also found fit for military service (for more details, read the graph «г» of the clarifications under subparagraph 13.5 of the instruction).

The amendments to the instruction also affected the conscripts with diseases of the endocrine system, eating disorders, diseases of the nervous system and heart, skin diseases, spinal diseases.

On February 20, 2023, Aliaksandr Lukashenka  held a Security Council meeting. One of the documents submitted for consideration by the Security Council, was the draft law «On People’s Militia».

Lukashenka explained that an effective national defense system had been built in Belarus, and the basis of it is the army. Fight with crime, defense of public order and public security are the sphere of interest of the Ministry of Internal Affairs both in peace and in war time. In order to ensure functioning of the state bodies, organizations, economic entities, infrastructure of Belarus in war time, territorial troops have been created.

«Yet, the situation is not simple. I have already said multiple times: every man (and not only man) should at least know how to handle weapons. At least, to protect his family, his house, his native corner of land in case of necessity and, if needed, his country, as without it there will be no corner, no house, nothing else. Many understand that», Lukashenka underlined.

On February 20, 2023, the Defense Minister, Viktor Khrenin, said that the main task of the people’s militia will be defense of their local area and law enforcement together with the police. The draft law «On People’s Militia» was elaborated by the Ministry of Defence together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The draft law provides that the composition, number and tasks of the people’s militia will be defined by local authorities.

«However, the main task of the people’s militia remains, which is to defend first of all their own homes, property and to carry out tasks to ensure law and order together with the police», the Defense Minister said.

According to the law, volunteers that join the people’s militia, will be placed at their place of residence and carry out their work tasks. Their employer will have the right to release those citizens from work with the preservation of their wages and jobs.

On February 21, 2023, the deputies of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly (which is fully controlled by Lukashenka) approved amendments to the Criminal Code, including criminal liability for discrediting the army and the death penalty for high treason. Before that, a draft law had been adopted “On Amendments to the Criminal Code”. The objective of preparing the draft law was to take proactive measures against offenses of extremist or terrorist character by introducing amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Mentioning “offenses of extremist or terrorist character” directly indicates who the new amendments to the Criminal Code are adopted against and clearly shows that Lukashenka is trying to suppress any contacts between human rights defenders, media, and members of the armed forces, threatening the latter with the probability of the death penalty.

The press service of the House of Representatives indicated that the draft law “On the amendment of criminal codes” was needed to produce a “deterrent effect on destructive elements” (the term used by the Belarusian regime’s propaganda to refer to human rights defenders and independent media in exile) and “to demonstrate a decisive fight against high treason”.

The Article 369-1 of the Criminal Code is supplemented by a qualifying factor providing for the «establishment of responsibility for dissemination of knowingly false information discrediting the Armed Forces, other troops and military formations, paramilitary organizations of the Republic of Belarus».

Also, new articles have been added, including Article 289-1 “Propaganda of terrorism” (which the Belarusian regime typically uses to label the dissemination of any information about the activities of human rights organizations and independent media in exile that it has deemed “extremist”), and Article 375-2 “Violation of requirements for the protection of state secrets”.

Now, law enforcement officials have the right to detain individuals suspected of high treason, conspiracy, espionage, agent activity, or acts of terrorism under Articles 356-358-1 of the Criminal Code for a period of 20 days from the moment of arrest.

However, the KGB informants got some relief: Article 125 of the Criminal Code was amended with a corresponding note that releases individuals from criminal liability if they participated in the preparation of an attack on an institution under international protection (meaning foreign embassies in Belarus) and assisted in preventing the crime by timely warning the state bodies or by other means.

Besides that, the Criminal Code was supplemented by Article 375-2 “Violation of the requirements for the protection of state secrets,” providing criminal liability for “intentional unlawful transfer of a holder of state secrets holding the secrets of the Republic of Belarus or foreign states, transferred to the Republic of Belarus, outside the Republic of Belarus.” In simpler terms, this means that there is criminal liability for providing any help to a serviceman attempting to escape from the army and leave the country. Providing such help to a deserter in fleeing Belarus and going abroad could result in up to 5 years of imprisonment.

On February 25, 2023, the Chariman of the Security Council, Alexander Volfovich, informed that participants of the people’s militia will possess fire arms and keep them at home. That is provided by the draft law «On People’s Militia» discussed with the participation of Lukashenka.

The people’s militia is going to be organized by the local authorities and led by units of internal affairs. In case of martial law, the tasks of the militia will be to defend order, fight banditism and marauding, sabotage and reconnaissance groups.

«They will be given fire arms. The weapons will be kept on them. They will stay and eat at home. It is a possibility to legitimize desires of citizens to secure their homes, the place where they live, to provide order for their families, their children on the ground», Volfovich said.

He added that people will serve in the people’s militia on voluntary basis, without being dismissed from their jobs. On the decision of their employer, they are going to be released from work for the time of preforming their duties in the militia squads. At the same time, they are going to keep the salary.

At the same time, service in the people’s militia does not exempt a citizen from military service: if needed, those who are fit can be subject to mobilization to the army.

On March 3, 2023, Interior Minister Ivan Kubrakov said in an interview that those people, who could not be recruited for certain reasons in the armed forces, would be “conscripted” into the people’s volunteer army.

“The people’s volunteer army is planned to be created under local authorities, but the direct leadership of such people’s militias and training of it will be exercised by internal affairs officers. The level can be very different: from the head of the district police department to a district police inspector. Who will be drafted into the people’s volunteer army? These will be people who cannot be mobilized for certain reasons. These will be people who reached the age of retirement, but they’ll be ready to defend their homeland, ready to protect their homes and families. It doesn’t matter if it’s a woman or a man. Women, by the way, are sometimes with more combative nature than men,” Kubrakov said.

On March 9, 2023, Alexander Lukashenko approved a draft law on People’s Volunteer Corps, which established “the legal basis for the voluntary citizen participation in the enforcement of martial law”. It was stated in the Security Council Resolution No. 2, which was published on the National Legal Internet Portal on March 6. The Minister of Defense, Viktor Khrenin, has to prepare amendments and recommendations within a month and send this draft law to the various instances for final approval by the relevant agencies. According to Lukashenko’s plans, the size of the people’s volunteer army will be between 100-150 thousand, and it is planned that people’s militia units will be established in each district and armed with combat weapons. However, international center for civil initiatives Our House warns that only certain categories of citizens will join such a people’s volunteer army: those who write denunciations to the KGB about their neighbors for their opposition views, retired law enforcers, former officials, corruptionists, and all those who are desperately afraid of Lukashenko leaving due to the possible disclosure of one’s abuses and crimes committed within his system.

On March 10, 2023, Alexander Lukashenko signed Decree No. 66 ‘On сall-up of reserve officers for active duty’. The document assumes conscription of up to 230 men under the age of 27 into the armed forces and call-up of up to 20 persons into bodies of the border service. By implication, all conscripts must have previously been trained in appropriate training programmes for reserve officers at military departments or faculties, received a commission as an officer and be enlisted in the reserve.

On March 14, 2023, the law “On Amendments to the Codes on Criminal Liability” was published on the National Legal Internet Portal of Belarus. The amendments to the criminal liability codes, which include the death penalty for officials and military personnel convicted of state treason, as well as criminal liability for terrorism propaganda and discrediting the army, will come into effect from March 25, 2023.

The main goal of the document is noted as “strengthening the counteraction to extremist (terrorist) and anti-state crimes.”

Criminal liability for “state treason” committed by a public official extends to all individuals holding government positions. Moreover, for “state treason” committed by a public official or military serviceman, the possibility of imposing the exceptional punishment of the death penalty is introduced.

The law introduces criminal liability for “propaganda of terrorism, discrediting the armed forces, other troops and military formations, militarized organizations, and violation of requirements for protecting state secrets.” The detention period for individuals suspected of committing state treason, conspiracy, or other actions aimed at seizing state power, espionage, and clandestine activities is increased from three to ten days.

However, the law provides exemption from criminal liability for individuals who were preparing for sabotage but abandoned their intentions and assisted in preventing the crime.

On April 3, 2023 on the Alexander Lukashenko’s order, the Ministry of Defense began another check readiness of the Belarussian Armed Forces. The overall supervision for checking was entrusted to The State Secretariat of the Belarusian Security Council. Conscripts were supposed to start arriving at military registration and enlistment offices in Belarus on April 4, 2023. However, in some places, such as Brest, military services reported that they hadn’t had enough time to prepare properly and send out summonses. As a result, men who had not served and were in the reserve were sent to deliver the summonses instead. These men were “invited” to make such urgent deliveries to military recruitment offices instead of their main jobs. Those who tried to refuse were threatened that they would face pressure and would be fired from their jobs. In particular, they were told, “We will write a report on you, and then send it to your workplace, and, as you understand, your contract won’t be renewed.”3

On April 6, 2023, it became known that Belarus and Russia had decided to extend certain agreements in the military sphere. Vladimir Putin made this statement at the Kremlin during the session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State.

Putin emphasized that Russia and Belarus would continue to enhance their cooperation in the defense and security sphere and expand their collaboration in the military-technical field. He stated, “This undoubtedly corresponds to the fundamental interests of our countries and peoples. Alexander Grigorievich raised the question of extending some of our previous agreements. I fully support this and, from my side, I request our Security Council to work out everything that was set as a priority task in this area today.”

On April 10, 2023, Alexander Volfovich, the State Secretary of the Belarussian Security Council, stated during a meeting with the heads of higher education institutions that he considered it expedient to return to the practice of conscripting students into the army.

“I would like to ask some questions to the rectors, of course, I won’t expect an immediate response from them. I will give them time to reflect on it and submit their thoughts and suggestions to the State Secretariat of the Security Council. How to educate students in military departments, how do they generally view and approach the issue of conscripting students into the armed forces, as it was once done in the Soviet Union,” said Volfovich.

On April 12, 2023, the Secretary of the Security Council, Alexander Volfovich, announced that the people’s militias in Belarus would be responsible for tasks related to the introduction of martial law, as well as combating sabotage and reconnaissance groups.

The head of the Security Council stated that the people’s militia would be formed from volunteers, residents of a particular locality, who will assist local law enforcement agencies, primarily district police officers. According to Volfovich, it is expected that they will perform tasks related to ensuring security. “Additionally, they will address tasks related to the imposing of martial law and combating sabotage and reconnaissance groups within the territory of a particular area,” official emphasized.

On 17 April 2023, a draft law on the people’s militia was submitted to the Belarusian parliament. Earlier, Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin said that the draft law on the people’s militia had been developed by the Defence Ministry jointly with the Ministry of internal Affairs.

“The draft law ‘On People’s Militia’ is very relevant. In the people’s militia, both those of our people who are still on military registration and those who have already been discharged can prove themselves worthy. Even those who, for various reasons, did not serve in the army but are hunters and have skills in handling weapons. However, the most important thing here is a person’s civic stance, one’s readiness to serve the Motherland, protect one’s home and family. And specific knowledge can be acquired during training”, a deputy Pavel Mikhalyuk emphasized.

On May 4, 2023, independent mass media found out that people’s militia units, actively created by the rulers of Belarus, are indeed created illegally: there is just no corresponding legislation in the country.

On May 12, 2023, Aliaksandr Lukashenka signed a law on ratification of the agreement with the Russian Federation on the implementation of the Program of Military-Technical Cooperation until the year 2025. The agreement had been concluded on September 23, 2022. Then it was approved by both chambers of the Belarusian parliament.

The document officially gives effect to the program of military and technical cooperation. Within its framework, reciprocal deliveries of arms and equipment between Belarus and Russia were established, as well as joint projects of the Defence industries, development and production of armament, military equipment, dual-use and special-purpose goods. In total, the program consists of 199 activities.

On May 16, 2023, amendments to the law “On military duty and military service” were published in Belarus. It was amended and received the status of a law. The most important amendment that has been made is that studying abroad is no longer considered to be a ground for deferment from military duty.

The deferment from the military service for Belarusians studying abroad has been canceled. Only those students shall be granted such a deferment who are studying abroad by the assignment of the republican government bodies in the framework of implementation of state programs. However, there are exceptions: the deferment can be obtained if on the date of entering of this law into force the student was studying in a foreign educational establishment in intramural form of study and had entered those educational establishments before the age of 18.

The law also stipulates that in case several citizens in one family are subject to call-up for compulsory military service, service in the reserves and have a right to deferral, it can be “granted to one of them according to the request of the family members (relatives)”.

On May 31, 2023, the Belarussian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin announced that basic military training would be provided to all students in Belarusian universities. According to his words, a joint document with the Ministry of Education has already been adopted for this purpose, and hours have been allocated for the study of the special course.

On June 8, 2023, a parliamentary bill was published on the National legal Internet portal, according to which armed rebellion in Belarus will become a reason to introduce a state of emergency, and the infiltration of armed groups by extremist organizations from other countries’ territories will lead to the imposition of martial law.

The bill proposes amendments to the law on the state of emergency. Whereas previously the state of emergency regime could be introduced because of “riots”, in the future, the grounds may include “attempts of forcibly changing the constitutional order, seizure or appropriation of state power, armed rebellion, mass and other disturbances”.

The draft law also includes amendments to the law on martial law. Mention of extremist groups and organizations is added as a basis for imposing martial law. The amendments also provide that “in case of inaction by the President of the Republic of Belarus” the state of emergency or martial law can be imposed by the National People’s Assembly.

The bill has already been submitted to the parliament. It must be passed in the House of Representatives and then approved in the Council of the Republic, after which it will be sent for Alexander Lukashenko’s signature.

On June 15, 2023, the House of Representatives approved in the second reading the bill on people’s militia. According to the statement of Deputy Yevgeny Zaytsev, the bill will allow volunteers to keep weapons with them.

“The law stipulates the storage of weapons with the volunteer. It will be kept at home, and the procedures for storing and preserving this weapon will be determined by relevant documents and a resolution of the Council of Ministers,” Zaytsev stated.

On June 21, 2023, the State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, Alexander Volfovich, announced that Belarus was considering the cancellation of military service deferment for students.

According to him, when a first-year student is called up to the armed forces, He will serve for one year instead of a year and a half, return to the second year more mature and better prepared, and after four years of graduating from the institute, he won’t have to rack his brain whether to join the armed forces or not.”

“The President has stated that it is indeed necessary to consider, discuss, listen to the opinions of people, students, and young individuals, and then make an appropriate decision,” said Volfovich.

On June 28, 2023, Belarusian deputies adopted on the first reading the draft law “On Ratifying the Agreement between the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation on the Establishment and Operation of Joint Training and Combat Centers for Military Personnel of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation”.

“The agreement addresses matters related to the organization, establishment, and operation of joint training and combat centers for military personnel from the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation. These centers will be based on military units of both countries and outline their core objectives and the procedure for cooperation between the defense ministries to ensure comprehensive support for these centers,” stated the lower chamber of the Belarussian Parliament

Criminal prosecution of Belarusian conscientious objectors in Belarus (selected cases)

10 March 2023

Military Commissariat of Brest and the Brest region organized a mobile court session for trying an 18-year-old boy who refused to serve in the Belarusian army. The defendant failed a medical examination without a valid reason and did not appear at the military registration and enlistment office on the date specified in the summons.

During the trial he admitted his guilt in full, explaining that he “did not want to go to the army because he was afraid of being sent to the war”. The court found the defendant’s fear unconvincing and sentenced the young man to a fine of 60 basic units (2,220 rubles). This court session was also used by the authorities both for propaganda purposes and to intimidate young people: high schoolers and draft-age youths from local schools were gathered for it.

13 March 2023

Hrodna Regional Court started hearing the case against 19-year-old Anita Bakunovich, former customs officer Mikalai Kuleshou and army evader Yehor Kurzin. All of them were detained near the Lithuanian fence while trying to cross the border illegally. Yehor Kurzin was accused of illegal border crossing as well as draft evasion.

21-year-old Yehor Kurzin in the propaganda film of Belarusian television (BT) said that he had studied for a year at the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radio Electronics (BSUIR) and had been expelled for academic failure. According to the propaganda story, the guy allegedly made up a story about political persecution, because he did not want to join the army, and “was not listed in the political prisoners” (namely BT used such wording).

10 April 2023

In April 2023, a mobile court session was held at the military enlistment office of Rechytsa and Loyev districts. Students from local schools were forcibly brought along with their parents, as well as young individuals who are expected to serve in the army. Such public trials related to Article 435 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (evasion of military service) are becoming increasingly common in Belarus, as the unwillingness to join the army becomes widespread in the country.

The court tried a native of Vasilevichi town, who left for Russia as soon as he received a summons to the army. He was arrested in Russia, and there he was offered to voluntarily appear at the Rechitsa District Internal Affairs Department, which had declared him wanted as an evader. Naturally, the young man ignored this order, and after many peripetias, K. was taken into custody and sent to his place of residence in Belarus. Since October 2022, he had been in Belarus in the pre-trial detention center, awaiting a court hearing.

Article 435 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus entails severe sanctions, including up to two years of imprisonment. The state prosecutor demanded one year of imprisonment, taking into account five months already served in pre-trial detention, with each day counting as one and a half days. However, the court delivered a different verdict: three months of arrest. In practice, the defendant K. had already served these three months, and he was consequently released in the courtroom. As noted by state lawyers, it is likely that his criminal record will be expunged after a year, and K. will be attempted to be conscripted for military service again.

5 May 2023

In April 2022, a young Belarusian man (currently 23 years old) received a personal summons at the Stolin district military enlistment office and signed for it. The summons demanded him to appear on August 19, 2022, for the enlistment process and to undergo a medical examination for compulsory military service. The young conscientious objector fled to Russia. In November 2022, he decided that the risk of conscription was no longer imminent, returned home, and was detained by the police. He was charged with “evading conscription measures” (Article 435, Part 1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus). The case was handled by the Brest Oblast Prosecutor’s Office.

On May 10, 2023, a public trial was held, to which teenage boys of draft age, their parents, and potential conscientious objectors were forcibly brought. The young man was found guilty of draft evasion and was sentenced to a fine of 70 base units (2590 Belarusian rubles or 930 euros).

10 May 2023

A resident of Dzerzhinsk was sentenced to one month of arrest for draft evasion. In November 2022, a 19-year-old resident of Dzerzhinsk, after receiving a summons for draft activities and sighning it, failed to arrive at the military enlistment office. At the same time, authorities repeatedly warned him of criminal liability for evasion of military conscription. During interrogations, the young man claimed that he had not evaded conscription, but failed to appear at the military enlistment office due to serious deterioration of his health, although this was not substantiated by any documents. As a result, the young man was sentenced to one month of arrest.

6 July 2023

In Lida (Grodno Region), a 28-year-old man was sentenced to 1.5 years of imprisonment for evasion from the army (Article 435, Part 1 of the Criminal Code), although in Belarus, individuals can be called for compulsory military service only until the age of 27.

The essence of the case is that the resident of Lida (his name is not disclosed) received a summons for a medical examination in the district military enlistment office in August 2021,for further processing by the conscription commission. At that time, he was 26 years old. The young man fled to Russia, where he was apprehended in January 2023, after that he was extradited to Belarus and imprisoned for evasion.

7 July 2023

It has been reported about the trial of a conscientious objector in Chashniki, who, after receiving a military conscription notice and passing a medical examination, was declared fit for military service but fled to Russia. In Russia, he was apprehended and extradited to Belarus, where the court found him guilty of evading military service under Part 1, Article 435 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. The court imposed a one-year imprisonment with a conditional suspension of the sentence, provided that the citizen does not commit any new crimes during the probation period and fulfills the obligations imposed by the court. Specifically, in accordance with Part 5, Article 78 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, he was obligated to pay a criminal compensation to the state in the amount of 35 basic units, totaling 1120 Belarusian rubles (approximately 400 euros).

However, it is now unclear when and how he will be enlisted in the military service. He has an outstanding criminal record, which theoretically should exempt him from being called up for military service.

Pre-military training of boys in Belarus for compulsory military service.

The militarization of boys in Belarus starts long before their conscription into military service, involving several structures such as schools, institutes, and various state “military-patriotic” clubs.

From the age of 14, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus begins to summon Belarusian teenage boys to military enlistment offices “to verify personal data”. From this age, it becomes much more difficult for teenage boys to travel abroad: there is no direct ban, but obtaining a passport for travel abroad can be challenging.

Moreover, there have been numerous cases recorded where a teenager (a citizen of Belarus) aged 14 to 17 permanently resides abroad but, due to personal reasons, visits Belarus. Once in Belarus, one is not allowed to leave the country until he completes mandatory military service or is discharged for valid reasons.

In schools, senior school pupils are required to study pre-conscription training as a compulsory subject, including both boys and girls undergoing a course of military medical training. Since September 1, 2021, the position of a leader for military-patriotic education, commonly known as the “military instructor” from the times of the USSR, has been reintroduced in Belarusian schools. As of March 2023, Belarusian schools have filled 93% of the military instructor positions.

The tasks and responsibilities of the military instructor include organizing and conducting thematic classes, caring for World War II veterans, improving burial grounds and military graves, studying the history of military units and formations, partisan detachments and underground groups during the Great World War in the regions where schools are located, organizing schoolchildren’s trips to the sites of World War II battles.

The modern equivalent of the Soviet-era school subject “Initial Military Training” in the curricula of general secondary education institutions in contemporary Belarus is a program designed for 130 hours per year in the 10th grade and 70 hours per year in the 11th grade. The obligatory component of this program is a field training camp for boys on the basis of one of the military units, and practical sessions for girls. It is impossible to ignore these classes, as students who miss them may not be promoted to the final year and will not receive a school diploma.

In 2022, the educational program was updated to include mandatory standards such as partial disassembly and assembly of rifles, loading magazines with training rounds, donning gas masks, respirators, and standard military protective gear, actions in response to “Chemical Alert” signals, elements of drill and tactical training, and military topography. Regarding military medical training, tasks include deploying an individual dressing package, applying bandages and a tourniquet, using a syringe tube, and more.

The material and technical base for all of this was gradually developed. The emphasis was initially placed on creating centers for pre-conscription training. Each such structure combines students from several schools. The educational process is organized on a block-module principle, where all the material planned for the year is covered over several instructional days. In addition to this, senior schoolchildren are offered the opportunity to attend optional classes, sports and technical clubs, and other applied activities.The classes are conducted with the assistance of officers from the district military enlistment office, educators, military faculty cadets, and medical university students.The centers are equipped with shooting ranges for pneumatic rifle shooting, Kalashnikov training rifles, visual aids, etc.

When studying the “Pre-conscription training” block, classes are called platoons (a platoon is divided into two or three squads). Platoon and squad leaders are appointed from among the students. Each lesson starts with the formation of personnel, checking the attendance of students, and reporting to the teacher about readiness for the educational activity. During the session, the requirements of general military regulations must be observed in the actions, responses, and interactions of students with the teacher.

It should be understood that such pre-conscription and medical preparation of schoolchildren is just one component of a comprehensive set of measures aimed at militarizing Belarusian teenagers. Another component is the military-patriotic camps organized for children and youngsters during the summer school holidays. The programme of study in these camps resembles military training at school but is much more intensive and ideologically charged. Moreover, the life of children in such camps closely resembles that of soldiers, with military uniforms, barracks, and a corresponding daily routine.

Units of law enforcement agencies also readily take patronage over educational institutions. Belarusian schools have specialized classes with a military-patriotic focus. They study two subjects at an advanced level, which could be physics and mathematics or mathematics and a foreign language. Additionally, they engage in some optional courses such as “Ready to Serve the Homeland!” or “Young Border Guard”, which are developed by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense and the State Border Committee. The criteria for admission to such specialized classes include good physical preparation, good state of health, and an average grade of no less than 7 on the certificate of basic education according to the current 10-point grading system used in the country.

In addition, in the near future, all students in Belarusian universities will be required to undergo basic military training. This was announced by the Belarusian Minister of Defense, Viktor Khrenin, on May 31, 2023. According to him, basic military training will be provided to all students in Belarusian universities, and a joint document with the Ministry of Education has already been adopted, allocating hours for the study of this mandatory specialized course.

Boarding military schools for boys (including orphans) in Belarus promoting the ideology of the «russian world»4

In Belarus there are closed militarized boarding schools for boys starting from the age of 12, where they are taught skills in military affairs.

The aim of such institutions is to train personnel in military and sports specialties for the armed forces, other troops and military formations of the Republic of Belarus, as well as personnel for the bodies of internal affairs, the Investigation Committee, the State Committee of Forensic Expertise, emergency bodies and units, and other power structures. To put it briefly, from childhood, boys are trained to serve in the uniformed agencies of Lukashenko’s government.

The priority is given to boys in socially vulnerable situations, that is, to children whose parents were killed, died, or went missing while serving in the line of duty, as well as child orphans and children deprived of parental care (taken away from families according to Presidential Decree No. 18). During their studies, the boys are provided with free accommodation and living in accordance with the legal acts of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus. For many of these children, the enforcement agencies become the only family they know, and Lukashenka is perceived as their “father”. As a result, personal devotion and loyalty to the “family” is formed.

A whole system of cadet schools is working in Belarus in various cities and towns of the country. They were established and are operating based on the presidential decree No. 54, dated January 28, 2010, “On Cadet Schools”.

Some of these institutions only provide round-the-clock accommodation for the cadets, where they live in the educational institution. Others have classes during the day, like normal schools, and the teenagers go home at night.

The main cadet school of this kind, located in Minsk, is called the “Suvorov Military School,” named after Alexander Suvorov, a Russian military leader who actively fought against Belarusians and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 18th century. For example, in 1771, Suvorov defeated the Belarusian Hetman of the GDL, Mikhail Kazimir Oginski, near Stolovichy.

The name of Aleksandr Suvorov is a clear indication of the cadet school’s affiliation with the “russian world” and its historical narratives.

Today there are about 400 pupils in Minsk Suvorov Military School. The tuition period is 5 years.

According to the information provided by the Belarusian union of cadets, currently over 10 thousand cadet graduates live in Belarus. About 2 thousand of them are graduates from Minsk Suvorov Military School.


1. Realisation of the right to conscientious objection in Belarus remains practically impossible, conscientious objectors face various repressive practices.

2. There is a deterioration of Belarusian legislation in order to suppress any attempts to evade military service.

3. Military service is used as one of the repressive practices against opposition-minded young men.

4. The militarisation of children and adolescents in Belarus is growing, including through an extensive system of militaristic education and joint work of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Education, as well as clubs of so-called military-patriotic education.





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