Forum 18, 19th December 2023
Military officials have denied four young Baptist men in Siberia and the Far East the opportunity to carry out alternative civilian service, rather than military service, despite their efforts to demonstrate their pacifist religious convictions to the military authorities. All had applied for alternative civilian service.
As of mid-December, only one – Timofey Reznichenko from Primorye Region – has successfully challenged this refusal in court, thus gaining the right to have his application re-examined (see below).
Brothers Daniil and German Strelkov, from Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region, failed in their attempts to have their refusals ruled unlawful in court and are now preparing to appeal. “Faith forbids him to take up arms, kill, or take oaths,” a witness in Daniil’s case told the court. In German’s case, his father testified that he “is a deeply religious person and will not take up arms or take an oath, as this is prohibited by his religion”.
Krasnoyarsk Region courts twice declined to uphold Zakhar Asmalovsky’s lawsuit against the military authorities, meaning he will now be subject to conscription in the future.
A higher-level Conscription Commission in Kemerovo Region granted a fifth Baptist, Sergey Myalik, the right to undertake alternative service after his initial application was rejected at the district level.
According to the Council of Churches Baptists, all five young men are members of the church, which has a strong pacifist tradition.