23 maggio 1995
Press Release (21.00)
For Immediate Release
ABSTRACT. Text of Appeal, promoted by the Radical Party and the Committe of Soldiers' Mothers, addressing members of the Duma to oppose the bill on Alternative Civil Service currently under debate. Review of the entire bill chapter by chapter, pointing out its failures about the necessity of an actual Alternative Civil Service in accordance with the Russian Constitution. Report of the initiative of a 46-meter long fax, including the Appeal text and collected signatures, sent to Ivan Rybkin, president of the Duma lower House.
Today, before the second reading debates on the draft law "On Alternative Civilian Service", scheduled on Wednesday, May 24, an appeal was sent to the members of the State Duma. Below is the full text of this appeal, signed by Nikolaj Khramov, secretary of A.R.A.; Anzhelika Chechina, member of Coordination Council of Russian Committee of Soldiers' Mothers; as well as by Antonio Stango and Mamuka Tsagareli, members of General Council of the Radical Party.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On this week the State Duma shall debate in second reading the draft of the Federal Law "On Alternative Civilian Service".
In Russian Federation still there is no legislative mechanism to implement the conscientious objection right, guaranteed by Article 59 Part 3 of Russian Federation Constitution. From this point of view, the draft law "On Alternative Civilian Service", which was prepared by two parliamentarian committees - committee on defence and committee on public associations and religious organizations - without any doubt could represent an important progressive step, if it would not contain a number of positions being in contradiction with a concept of conscientious objection right as universal inalienable civil right. In particular:
1. The draft law in its Article 4 determines by a detailed way the convictions, which can allow to perform alternative civilian service, therefore narrowing very much their sphere, while the resolution A3-0411/93 of European Parliament determines "that 'conscientious objector' should be taken to mean someone who, faced with an obligation to perform military service, refuses to do so on religious, ethical or philosophical grounds or for reasons of conscience and calls on all Member States to adopt this definition", and Article 59 Part 3 of Russian Constitution speaks about the right for alternative civilian service "in case, if performance of the military service contradicts to his conscience or religion".
2. Article 12 of the draft law gives for the recruitment commissions the right to refuse allowing alternative civilian service, in case of unsatisfactory motivation of conscientious objection. It contradicts, in particularly, to the Article 29 Part 3 of Russian Constitution ("no one can be forced to express his views and convictions or to refuse them"). No state authority or commission can determine the sincerity of someone's convictions. Therefore we insist on the notifying, but not permitting character of granting alternative civilian service.
3. The draft law (Article 6) provides the duration of alternative civilian service, exceeding up to one and half times against the military one. This position contradicts both to the draft itself, whose Article 3 fixes that "alternative civilian service is not considered as a punishment", and to the above mentioned EP resolution A3-0411/93 which calls "to ensure that compulsory military service and civilian service performed at institutions which do not come under the supervision of the Defence Ministry are of the same length".
4. The draft law unjustly complicates the procedure of submitting the application of conscientious objection, determining that a draftee can submit it only "within six months before the beginning that half year, when he must be drafted" (Article 9). This condition, as well as the previous one, contradicts to the concept of equality of two variants of community service - the military one and civilian one.
5. Alternative civilian service must be really a service for peace. However the draft law did not provide possibility to perform alternative civilian service out of Russian Federation territory (on the voluntary base) - for instance, in the framework of international humanitarian operations under UN supervision, or of European civilian service open to both conscientious objectors and volunteers from different countries.
6. The draft law establishes, that citizens performing alternative civilian service without their agreement can be used "according to the decision of Russian Federation Government for liquidation of consequences of the disasters, catastrophes and other emergency situations" (Article 7). Government should not have right to use those performing alternative civilian service on the works dangerous for their life and/or health without their will.
We consider the future law about conscientious objection right not simply as a compromise between the demands of conservative military circles and international human rights obligations of Russia, but as a part of more wide problem of the military reform still not initiated, as a powerful factor able actually contribute to the demilitarization of the country and to the conversion of military structures into civilian ones.
The draft of Federal Law "On Alternative Civilian Service" in its current variant does not respond to this demands. It will not be able to become a lever, thanks to which the government will finally be pressed to begin the military reform. Moreover, its adoption may essentially deteriorate the state of those refusing now military service, standing them before the choice: either to serve in a little renewed variant of "construction battalions" or to be imprisoned in labor camp. Article 59 of the Constitution, which is a norm of direct action, gives to a draftee already now the fully legal right to refuse military service, and the judicial practice confirms it.
STARTING FROM ABOVE WRITTEN, WE CALL YOU TO VOTE AGAINST DRAFT OF FEDERAL LAW "ON ALTERNATIVE CIVILIAN SERVICE" AND SETTING OF THIS DRAFT FOR REVISION.
Meanwhile, a fax of 46 meters length containing the first two thousands of signatures under the appeal of Radical Party and A.R.A. "For Conscientious Objection Right, Against Militarism" was sent from Moscow office of Radical Party to Mr. Ivan Rybkin, chairman of the lower chamber of Russian parliament. The basic positions of the appeal, as it was already reported, look as follows:
- the conscientious objection right must be a universal inalienable civil right;
- granting the alternative civilian service must be provided in a registration, but not permission mode;
- length of alternative civilian service and military service must be equal;
- in the law should be fixed possibility to perform civilian service outside of Russia, including those performed in the framework of international humanitarian operation under UN aegis;
- financing of alternative civilian service must be provided from adequate sums taken from military budget and given to the budgets of departments involved in organizing alternative civilian service.
Among subscribers of the Radical Party and A.R.A. appeal are: 16 members of parliament (Karakys Arakchaa, Valerij Borscev, Mihail Glubokovskij, Vladimir Gricanj, Bembja Hulhachiev, Anatolij Juscenko, Vasilij Lipickij, Viktor Lotkov, Vladimir Manannikov, Valentin Mihajlov, Eduard Pascenko, Viktor Shejnis, Ivan Starikov, Magomed Tolboev, Aleksandr Turbanov, Igorj Ustinov), writer Andrej Bitov, journalist Dmitrij Bykov, mayor of Dzerzhinskij city (Moscow region) Viktor Dorkin, writer Zufar Gareev, poet and scientist Aleksandr Gorodnickij, writer Valentin Oskockij, co-president of Free Democratic Party Marina Salje and other personalities of politics, science and culture.