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Dmitry is part of a brigade of the Russian elite army that has fought in Ukraine and arrived in the country from Belarus at the start of the attack. He is currently at a military base in Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border, and has been told he will be sent back to fight – but is currently refusing to do so. And like him, other colleagues have the same status.
“Many of us just don’t want to go back. I want to go back to my family and I don’t want to go back to the coffin,” Dmitri said. situation, who have informed the commanders that they do not intend to fight again in Ukraine. “They were furious. But in the end, they calmed down because they couldn’t do much. “
The case of the Dmitry Brigade is not unique. The BBC’s Russian department also reports the case of a 21-year-old soldier, Sergei Bokov, who spent 37 days fighting in Ukraine and was sent back to Russia in April, including near the border, with an order to return to the battlefield soon. “If you want, judge us, do what you want, we won’t go to war anymore,” he told the BBC.
THE Conflict Intelligence Teamresearch team bloggers The Russians currently estimate that 20-40% of Russian soldiers in Kiev, Chernihiv and Sumy, who have since returned to Russia, are refusing to fight the war in Ukraine again.
Attorney Mikhail Benyash also assures the Guardian that he has been contacted by “hundreds and hundreds” of soldiers who will come to him for legal advice in similar situations. Benyash says there are 12 members of the National Guard of the Russian city of Krasnodar among them who were fired because they refused to leave for Ukraine.
Commanders try to threaten the soldiers with arrest, but we tell the soldiers that they can only refuse, the lawyer explains.
Why? As Russia has not declared an official declaration of war on Ukraine, “there is no legal basis to prosecute if a soldier refuses to fight.” [fora] when placed in the territory of Russia ”. Yes, they can be separated from the army.
That doesn’t stop the Russian military from continuing to threaten soldiers who refuse to go to the front lines. Sergei Bokov told the BBC he learned of a case in which 20 mercenaries abandoned a Russian military base to which their entire company had been transferred. The commanders told their soldiers that if they did the same, they would be arrested, charged and threatened with 10 years in prison. “It wasn’t true after all, but I didn’t know it then. I didn’t want to go and die and kill. But I didn’t want to go to jail either,” the soldier sums up.
If Russia declares war, the situation will change for all these soldiers. “During the war, the rules are completely different. Refusal results in much harsher punishments and they face some kind of imprisonment, Mikhail Benyash explains.