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Murmansk conscript will defend his right to do alternative civilian service in the European Court of Human Rights

Russian courts didn’t believe pacifist views of Sergei Kholkin that contradict military service

Human rights organization "Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg" filed a complaint "Kholkin against Russia" to the European Court of Human Rights on May 15, the International Day of the recruit, the publishing house "Kommersant" informs.

Sergei Kholkin asserts his right to do alternative civilian service instead of being in the Russian armed forces from September 2014. Then the young man said that he couldn’t go to the army, as he considered himself a convinced pacifist. At the same time, he is ready to carry out his constitutional duty on the alternative service. This type of service involves a special kind of work for 1 year 9 months. However, a special commission considered that the convictions of the recruit are not strong enough. A similar conclusion had Murmansk courts of different instances, in which Kholkin tried to litigate his conscription.

Photo: civil-forum.ru

According to representative of the human rights organization "Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg" Alexander Peredruk, courts had no reason to say that Sergei Kholkin was not a convinced pacifist.

“A lot of media have written that Kholkin got such views only after the events in Ukraine and that he was afraid to be sent to Donbass. But it is not. The Ukrainian situation didn’t affect his decision and views, he just saw war once again and became convinced in his views,” Alexander Peredruk said.

According to human rights defender, the European Court is quite serious about the protection of citizens' beliefs, so Kholkin stands a chance to win this case.

But the main question is the speed of the proceedings. Based on the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, this process can take up to five years. Now Sergei Kholkin faces criminal responsibility in Russia for evasion of military service.

“We asked the European Court of Human Rights to consider the case as a priority for the reason that during this time Kholkin can be drafted into the military. Or he can be judged,” Alexander Peredruk said. “But it is not clear if they give the status to the case or not. If he will be called, it will be a strong argument, which will confirm the violation of his rights.

For reference:

According to Article 59 of the Russian Constitution and the law "On alternative service", the right to replace military service have citizens whose religion or beliefs don’t permit to take up arms, as well as representatives of indigenous peoples involved in traditional crafts. Each year, the Ministry of Labour of Russia publishes a list of civilian jobs that can take a person who do not want to take up arms. During 11 years of existence of the ACS more than 8 000 relevant applications of recruits were received, about 7 000 were satisfied.

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