Russian Christians face persecution for refusing to fight in Ukraine
In Budyonnovsk, Stavropol Territory, the Military Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation intends to open a criminal case against two members of the Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity for refusing to go to the war for religious reasons. If convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to three years. The two Christians, Sergey Tarasov and Maxim Drozdov were called under the mobilization decree on 24 September. As they objected for religious reasons, the commander refused their appeal.
For the first time, Russia’s Investigative Committee is conducting an inspection under a new article of the Criminal Code to open a criminal case due to the refusal of two Christians to participate in the invasion of Ukraine.
Sergey Tarasov and Maxim Drozdov, from the village of Budyonnovsk, in Southern Russia, were called under the mobilization decree on September 24. After receiving the summons, they reported to the military office and have been held there for more than a month. They wrote reports to the commander of the unit about the refusal to participate in the invasion for religious reasons, but the commander refused their appeal, and they were interviewed by the military commandant’s office, the military police, and the military garrison prosecutor’s office.
CNE News reports, quoting Triklopodia portal, that the victims’ attorney, Andrey Sabinin, said that a “non-execution of an order” clause was inserted into the mobilization decree two days before the men were drafted. “Officially, Tarasov and Drozdov expressed their position after the entry into force of the law; they were introduced to the new standard and warned about their responsibility,” Sabinin said regarding the role of religious beliefs in the case. Sabinin also said that Article 59 of the Constitution of Russia, which states that “if a citizen’s religion is against military service, he has the right to replace it with alternative civilian service,” can be used in their defence.
The Investigative Committee is conducting a pre-investigation check to open a criminal case against Sergey Tarasov and Maxim Drozdov under the new clause 2.1 of Article 332 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Failure to comply with the order of the chief in an armed conflict, as well as refusal to participate in hostilities.” If convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to three years.