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Russia jails first soldier who refused to go to war in Ukraine

A Russian career soldier has become the first to be sentenced to prison for refusing to fight in Ukraine, court documents have revealed. Alexey Breusov was given a one year and eight month prison term for “rejecting the idea of taking part in the hostilities” in the neighbouring country of Ukraine. A garrison court of Russia’s Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Far East charged Breusov with “violating the Russian army internal service charter”. 

Breusov was found guilty under the new entry of the Russian Criminal Court’s article, which was enacted when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a package of amendments to the Criminal Code relating to military service on September 24. 

The head of Russia’s human rights group Agora, Pavel Chikov, reported that the criminal case against Breusov had been opened. 

He said it was the first instance of criminal punishment in Russia for a failure to execute an order in war time. 

Breusov has appealed the decision in the Pacific Ocean Fleet Court, which is expected to be heard next month. 

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Putin’s amendment to the criminal law following the announcement of the mass mobilisation of 300,000 military reservists was intended to crack down on those who did not want to fight. 

Reports of Russian soldiers struggling in brutal winter conditions with poor equipment supplies have left many troops back in their motherland unwilling to go to the front line. 

Videos of Russian trainees drinking excessively and rebelling against their commanding officers reflect an army unwilling to fight. 

But the Kremlin has been branding those hesitant to fight in Ukraine as traitors, while praising the patriotism of those that have made the journey to the front line. 

Breusov was given the order to go to Ukraine in early October, according to local media outlet Kam 24. 

He “was aware of the mobilisation declared in Russia but was unwilling to take part in hostilities and refused to follow the commanding officer’s order to deploy to the area of the special military operation”, Kam 24 reported, quoting the court’s verdict.

Despite the belief of Russian human rights groups that punishment for refusal to fight would be minimal, Breusov was handed almost a two year prison term. 

As well as career soldiers, hundreds of mobilised Russian men have reportedly refused to fight once they were sent to Ukraine.

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Many of them were detained and spent days in locked premises such as basements. Some of them are now suing the government for illegally depriving them of their freedom.

Earlier today, eight mobilised soldiers were detained in the Russian city of Podolsk after attempting to flee their call up. They were forced to hand over their weapons, including  three AK-74s and four Kalashnikov machine guns, to the local police. 

They originally left the territory near Lugansk with weapons and were going to go to the Kaliningrad area, but only got to the Moscow region. 

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