The Russian military keeps taking mobilized soldiers who refuse to fight to special camps. One of the camps is located in the village of Zavitne Bazhannya in the Donetsk region, and it has not been previously reported. The Insider learned about it from several wives and mothers of objectors. According to them, 21 men are now sitting there in the basement, periodically they are forced to dig dugouts and threatened to be sent to the front lines or shot. Contract servicemen guard them, and no one knows where the command is.
“I will cover my eyes and ears and wait to be shot”
One of the informers, Elena Kashina, the wife of a mobilized soldier, told me that her 33-year-old husband had no military experience. While in the army, he repaired APCs in a garage, and his military card says he is a “Heavy Equipment Repair and Operation Driver.”
“When they were at the range, they were given the opportunity to practice shooting for one day using an assault rifle. The rifle had a sight bent sideways, so he was unable to hit the target either from 400 meters or even from 100 meters. The next day they were digging trenches, and that was all their combat training. After that, they were sent to Ukraine. My husband worked at a mining and smelting complex, which is considered a defense enterprise, so, they shouldn’t have called him up for military service, but he was not so lucky”.
According to Kashina, her husband was in Ukraine since October 2. Around October 10, he got in touch and reported that the mobilized soldiers were serving in the trenches, trying to recapture the forest belts. On October 12 he was able to contact his wife again and said he did not want to kill people, that he would rather “cover his eyes and ears,” and wait for the firing squad, which was what the deputy chief political officer of their company had threatened them with when several mobilized men said they wanted to resign from military service.
“Before they wrote their reports, the deputy commander of the 5th company in “DNR” said that if they wrote anything, they would be shot, their bodies would be thrown into a pit, and their relatives would be told they were missing in action. My husband called me and said: “Lena, they might shoot me today.” They were completely depressed, psychologically broken. I think that if they returned home, they would need the help of a psychiatrist. They were thrown into the basement in such a condition, and they sat there on the ground in the brick basement for two days.”
According to Yelena, the resignation reports were not acted upon. The last time her husband got in touch was on October 31, when he said that the objectors, including him, were being taken somewhere. Six of the soldiers who had filed their reports were left in the camp to cook food for the servicemen, and another eight were thrown into the basement. Relatives appealed to the Investigative Committee alleging the objectors were being illegally held hostage. They have yet to receive a reply.
“They were held in a basement and forced to renounce their reports”
Among those forcibly held in the camp, in addition to Elena Kashina's husband, seven other soldiers had worked at the Dalpolimetall Mining and Metallurgical Complex in Dalnegorsk, Primorsky Krai, before mobilization. All of them were exempt from military service as employees of a defense enterprise, as their engineer had personally notified the military unit commander. However, the commander did not let anyone go, and the miners were sent to the front. Below is the collective letter written by the wives and mothers of the mobilized men.
“In the morning of September 22, 2022, they received a phone call from the military enlistment office and were required to present themselves and their belongings within one hour. They were told that if they did not show up, they would be sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and confiscation of property. Later they were sent to a training ground (Ilyinka), and there were no medical checks even though many of them had health problems (due to having worked in the lead mines before the mobilization).
On September 29, their chief engineer, acting as a company representative, visited the training ground to retrieve our relatives and other employees of Dalpolimetall. He handed the commander of military unit 16871 Pavel Lebedev a request to release those persons who were on the exemption list. Our relatives were on that list. But Lebedev did not let them go, thus depriving them of an opportunity to visit the military enlistment office for getting a Form 4 exemption certificate. Lebedev categorically and unequivocally rejected our demands to release our husbands and children. As a consequence, on October 1 (i.e. nine days after being mobilized) they were all sent, without any special training, to the war zone in Ukraine.
It is important to note that our relatives’ military cards still bear no indication that our relatives have been assigned to a military unit. They did not sign a contract with anyone. While in Ukraine, our relatives were forced to storm enemy positions. In this connection, they wrote reports refusing to participate in combat actions, citing convictions of conscience, because due to those convictions they could not and would not kill people.
Subsequently, officers of different ranks repeatedly came to see the soldiers who had signed the reports, and interviewed them. However, after seeing they couldn’t convince them, the commanding officers started threatening them with execution. On October 16, eight people who had signed the reports were taken to an unknown destination, after turning in their weapons and bulletproof vests. For two days they were kept in a basement to make them renounce their reports. We learned about this on October 20, when our relatives got in touch (by that time they had been released after the arrival of inspectors).
Until October 31, our relatives were held 40 kilometers from the DNR city of Mariupol, building dugouts in a forest belt, they did not take part in combat operations and handed over their military equipment in accordance with the established procedure. However, on November 1, all the eight men who had signed the reports on the refusal to participate in combat operations were again taken to the same basement where they had been sitting earlier.
Yesterday, on November 4, one of our relatives got in touch and said they had not been fed for three days. The illegal detention of the servicemen in the basement continues to this date. They are not given personal hygiene items, nor have they been told the reasons for their forcible detention. They are called traitors and threatened with execution. On our part, we’ve appealed to the authorities, submitted statements of crimes, but there has been no appropriate reaction from the law enforcement agencies.”