Prison terms for Russian contract soldiers who refused to fight in Donbas

A number of Russian soldiers has been jailed for leaving the place of service due to unbearable conditions and reluctance to go to war in Ukraine.

Maikop garrison court sentenced five contract soldiers who were serving at Kadamovski range in Rostov region. Everyone will have to spend up to 1.5 years in jail for absence without leave. At that, the contractors claimed they failed to stay at their duty station because they did not want to go to fight in Donbas, reports.

21-year-old Ivan Shevkunov was sentenced to one year of imprisonment in a penal settlement. In court Shevkunov said that he had left the range due to harsh conditions and constant calls to go to Donbas as a volunteer fighter.

“I came to [Kadamovski] range at the end of September 2014. My documents, including the military card, were taken from me. There have been unbearable conditions. We were given army field rations, there was no canteen. We slept on mattresses and boards. A few days later I started having stomach problems, but no one could help me – there were no doctors at the range,” he said.

Kadamovski range is located about 80 kilometers from the border with Ukraine. According to Ivan, recruiters who agitate contractors for fighting in Donbas kept coming to them. They promised a lot of money – up to $400 per day. Recruiters were welcome at the range; they told the soldiers that sooner or later, each of them would be in the territory of a neighboring state. The officers and commanders turned the blind eye to their actions.

After two weeks of service Shevkunov wrote the first application for resignation, a bit later it was followed by two additional letters. But they were not even accepted. And the young man packed his bags and left the range. A criminal case was opened against him. The investigators accused him of desertion, but during the trial it became clear that there were no signs of defection in his actions As a result, a young contractor convicted of absence without leave.

“During the investigation, I was afraid to come to the unit because there were cases of forced sending soldiers to the range if they appeared in the unit. And after I began to openly speak to the media about the campaigning for going to war in Ukraine and conditions, I was summoned to the investigator who said I was a deserter and put me in a predetention centre for the period of the trial,” Ivan says.

Tatiana Chernetskaya, a defence lawyer of Shevkunov and other contracters, states that dozens of criminal cases were initiated against soldiers serving at Kadamovski range for ‘absence without leave’.

“For the first half of 2015 about 30 people have been convicted,” the woman said., following, Novaya Gazeta