Human rights defenders: as long as there is a call, bullying in the army will not disappear anywhere

Human rights defenders: as long as there is a call, bullying in the army will not disappear anywhere
Human rights defenders: as long as there is a call, bullying in the army will not disappear anywhere
28 August 2020, 19:25
Civil activists are confident that, despite the victorious reports of the Ministry of Defense, hazing or the so-called grandfatherism in the Russian army continues to flourish.

As already reported by Novye Izvestia, the RF Ministry of Defense made a loud and truly sensational statement that hazing in the army has been completely eliminated. According to the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Andrei Kartapolov, this became possible due to "the correctly chosen direction of joint actions to establish the statutory order in the army". Radio Liberty journalists rightly questioned the reality of this state of affairs.

On the one hand, the number of sentences handed down in connection with hazing in the army has indeed decreased. If 8 years ago there were more than one and a half thousand convicted under this article of the Criminal Code, then in 2018 there were just over 300 people. However, Deputy Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Skrabets said at the end of last year that the number of violent crimes committed by commanders against subordinates is growing in the army - there were more than a hundred such cases in 2019 alone.

Moreover, human rights defenders are confident that there can be no talk of eradicating hazing, and Kartapolov's victorious report is explained by a simple veil: since 2014, the Russian army has become more closed, access for representatives of non-governmental human rights organizations has been stopped, and soldiers undergoing military service are prohibited from using mobile phones.

The reality is that, for example, at the beginning of the summer in Voronezh, the mutilated body of conscript Dmitry Weber was found. As his guardian Irina Samedova said, the investigator who dealt with this case said that the soldier was killed by contract soldiers, adding: "But you will not prove anything, the army does not betray its own".

The head of the human rights organization "Citizen and the Army" Sergey Krivenko told reporters:

“Violence remained in the army because the reforms were not completed. The very statement that there is no hazing in the Russian army is a kind of slyness. Here you need to define the terms. If we talk about bullying in the narrow sense of the word, it is the established in the military unit the observance of order through informal rules, which is achieved through violence. In 2009-2010, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov carried out a number of rather serious comprehensive reforms in the army, one of which was the humanization of military service. After all these events, one could say that hazing, understood in a narrow sense as the power of old-timers, left the army, it was possible to cope with it. But the violence in the army remained, because all these reforms were not completed. And in recent years, when Sergei Shoigu became Minister of Defense, they were suspended altogether. (...) Serdyukov allowed mobile phones in the army by special decree. Soldiers could call home in the event of violations or incidents. Parents could contact human rights activists and the same military prosecutor's office. Now, after 2014, after the start of the war in Ukraine, all this has begun to "collapse". And there is no system of either public or civilian control over the army. Regional commissioners are not allowed to enter military units. (...) That the violence remains, we sometimes see from the outbursts that erupt in the media. Horrible cases of shootings and so on, all of them, as the investigation later shows, are based precisely on hazing, as they used to call it, violence by contract soldiers or by officers..."

Ida Kuklina, member of the coordinating council of the Union of Committees of Soldiers' Mothers, adds:

“Hazing in such a terrible form, in which it existed before, has become less. However, I believe that it is impossible to completely eradicate bullying without the abolition of the draft. I think it's too early to say that she disappeared. Of course, no introduction of political instructors into the army can stop bullying, it will manifest itself in one way or another. In addition, under Shoigu, the army became more closed. If something happens somewhere, it is very likely that it is a violation of human rights by the officers. And they always try to hide such cases..."

The executive director of the School of Conscripts Aleksey Tabalov agrees with Kuklina that bullying can only be eradicated by abolishing the draft:

“The statement about the eradication of bullying is not true. The Ministry of Defense deals with bullying in exactly the same way as the Ministry of Health does with covid. There is hazing, it is simply not registered, and the Ministry of Defense has set a course for a complete, total concealment of these facts. (...) Since 2009, these statistics are not available, the data is classified. The scale can only be judged by indirect indications, but even they say that annually in Russian military units dozens, if not hundreds of people are humiliated, beaten, abused and killed. It is necessary to cancel the draft: those who want and can serve in the army should serve..."

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