Nearly 500 Buryat contract servicemen have already refused to fight in Ukraine, ended their contracts and were able to return home. Another group of 150 people arrived in the Republic on July 9, the Free Buryatia Foundation reported. Alexandra Garmazhapova, head of the Foundation, told Freedom TV that the Foundation has been receiving an increasing number of requests for help from the military on a daily basis.
Garmazhapova notes that under the law, contract servicemen have every right to terminate their contracts and not to fight in Ukraine, but they are being told otherwise, threatened with criminal charges, locked up, their phones taken away, and their reports rejected.
“The commanders pretend that they haven’t seen the reports, stamp the papers with “prone to lies and betrayal,”“ says Garmazhapova. “About 300 to 350 contract servicemen have contacted us, and more keep coming every day. Every day at least 1-2 people contact us. Very often an applicant does not speak for himself alone. That is, a group of them has been locked up somewhere and only one happens to have a phone. And he starts writing to us, calling us and asking what to do, saying there are 10-15 people with him, they all want to end the contract, but they are not allowed to. We give them advice. A total of nearly 500 people have gone through us. All of them say they don't want to fight, they don't understand what they are doing there. People from other regions also contact us. Now there is a situation with the Tuvan servicemen. They wrote their resignation letters three weeks ago, but they were not accepted, and up to 20 people have now been locked up in a commandant's office in one of the occupied areas in eastern Ukraine. They are afraid they will be sent to the front line without their equipment so that they will die there quietly.”
“Up to 20 Tuvans are now locked up in the commandant's office in one of the occupied areas in eastern Ukraine. They are afraid that they will be sent to the front line without equipment”
Garmazhapova recalled that a week ago an appeal was published by wives of servicemen from Buryatia, who asked that their husbands be replaced with other men and returned to their homeland. In fact, their husbands were already returning home, but as soon as the appeal was published, they were turned around and some of them had to jump out of their bus on the way.
“They actually used that language as part of military censorship,” says the head of the foundation. “By the time the video was recorded, their husbands had already written their resignation letters. But it turned out that after the video appeared online, the bus with those men, who were on their way home, was turned around and they were sent back to the occupied territory in Ukraine and left there for another 10 days. Yesterday, today the planes started arriving, carrying those who refused to go to war. The contract can be terminated. There is no penalty for that. It's real. Yes, they were kept locked up, but they managed to get back. It’s either like this or in a casket”.
Andrei Rinchino, head of the legal department of the Free Buryatia Foundation, told Agentstvo that a group of 120 contract servicemen recently got into a fight with the military police in the “LNR”. They were all handcuffed and told they could not leave the territory without permission. They were told they would face criminal charges otherwise. “The FSB is working closely with them, as well as with their relatives. They are being interrogated. They mostly threaten them, but they can't really do anything,” says Rinchino.
The Buryat military is motivated not only by fear but also by a lack of understanding of why they should “de-Nazify” Ukraine, Garmazhapova explains.
“I was contacted by a military man who managed to terminate his contract, he said: “I don't want to be an occupier.
And I don't understand why we should “de-Nazify” Ukraine if I had lived in Moscow for 9 years and had faced racism and xenophobia there.” I often heard phrases in the beginning like “there's NATO there, we need to demilitarize them.” Then I reminded them: “In Moscow they call you 'black trash” and “slant-eyes” and tell you to go home. Are you sure it’s Ukraine that needs “de-Nazification”? Are you saying you want to protect the Russian language in Ukraine? Remember what is happening to the indigenous languages in Russia? And that it was Vladimir Putin who categorized your language as an elective discipline and made it optional to study at school”. And that's when something clicks in people's minds.”