21.05.2000 | I.Sukhorukova, Kharkiv

The ‘deserter’ is expected at home


In our November issue we wrote about the case of Artur Nigrutsa. Now we have got the answer form the Commission on Mercy. Our request to mercy A.Nigrutsa is rejected. Two grounds are given: one that he has deserted from the army, another is an aggravating circumstance — he was already brought for criminal liability. However, in his verdict it is said that Nigrutsa was not brought for criminal liability, otherwise he would not be taken to a paratrooper unit. The matter is that being a minor, Artur Nigrutsa was brought for criminal liability for a group brawl, in which he defended his younger kinsman. The combatants got two years of incarceration conditionally. By the time of recruiting the punishment was remitted according to Article 55 of the Penal Code of Ukraine, since he had not committed any other offence. That is why Nigrutsa was taken to paratroopers, that is why his verdict reads that he had no criminal liability. To sum up, he was refused mercy because of a misunderstanding.

After the refusal of mercy Nigrutsa fell ill with glomerulonephritis, his proctological disease has become more virulent. Artur is offered an operation. Besides, because of his cerebral-brain trauma he is observed by a psychiatrist. At present he is again in the stationary prison hospital.

All this testifies that Artur had been not able-bodied when he was taken to the army. The Commission on Mercy was not interested in all these trifles. Why should they fidget? It is easier to return documents with an absurd and inhumane formal reply. The struggle for Nigrutsa is in the future. Meanwhile V.Nesterenko, an advocate of Kharkiv Group for human rights protection, wrote a complaint to the court martial of the central region, requesting to cancel the verdict. We also directed our letter there. If the verdict is not cancelled, we intend to write a complaint to the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and at this stage we ask the readers to join us. In the proper time we shall inform you how you can help.

Unfortunately such cases are rather frequent. Here are several more stories related to desertion. During 8 recent months the Kharkiv Group and Kharkiv branch of soldier mothers’ Union received nine complaints from servicemen (or their relatives), who deserted from their units. In all such cases ‘dedovshchina’ was the reason. Kharkiv and Ukrainian press have recently described a case when four soldiers from Kharkiv deserted from their unit. Almost at once they and 30 other Kharkivites were transferred to another, safer, unit, where they continued their service. Nonetheless, two of the four ‘deserters’ complained on their health and on the insufficient medical investigation during the recruitment campaign.

Having opened the case history of one of them, Rogozhin, we saw that the young man was considered not able-bodied in peaceful time by the district recruiting commission, then without any visible reason he was redirected to military hospital by the region recruiting commission.

The hospital, in contrast to civil clinics, which had examined him before, immediately considered him as able-bodied. The young man with the disease of the central neural system was directed to the army. Is it surprising that he ran away from the army before taking the oath?

Another case concerns private Gula. The young man, according to his relatives, lagged behind in his mental and physical development, his behavior was inadequate. It runs in the family. His mother finished the closed school for demented, and she lost all the medical certificates of her son. We have letters of private Gula from his unit. The letters can be named a chronicle of dedovshchina. Neither the investigation officer, nor court paid any attention to this information. The court martial of Zhitomir condemned Gula to three years of service in a penal battalion.

The military prosecutor informed us that Gula is considered able-bodied after an ambulatory investigation. We directed the complaint to the court martial of the central region. meanwhile the sick young man is serving.

Two more deserters, Kozak and Sanin, complained on their neurological diseases. Sanin is considered not able-bodied by Lviv military hospital; Kozak is also not able-bodied because of neurosis and ulcer.

Our experience shows that first who desert because of dedovshchina are young men with bad psychic or physical health. To desert for them is perhaps the best way out. We know two cases when youths who have got to the army with inadequate psyche did not run, they took firearms, killed their offenders and then committed suicide.

What is the reason? Why, in spite of the categorical order of the Minister of Defense about the responsibility for taking diseased recruits to the army, we come across again and again with such facts? Now the number of recruits is considerably reduced, and it could seem that there is no necessity to recruit invalids. Moreover, the present Minister of Defense was the first minister who counted how much an invalid-recruit costs to tax payers, even if he does not desert and shoots at nobody.

The usual routine is the following. A sick recruit becomes even a more sick soldier. Sooner or later, badly or better, they start to treat him. Several times a year he stays in the military hospital (and one must know that treatment in a military hospital is much more expensive than in a civil one), and at last he is demobilized as invalid. All this is done for the money of tax payers.

Analyzing the problem of recruitment, we have arrived at certain conclusions:

not able-bodied recruits continue to be taken to the army because the interests of the Ministry of Defense and of the society on the one hand are contrary to the interests of the recruiting bureaucrats;

the recruitment of invalids could be severed only by extraordinary methods.

For example, in Russia there are cases when commanders of the military units, having received invalid recruits, sue the recruiting committees. There are more and more such cases. This is the measure worth to be repeated in our country, but is it sufficient? I address the readers of our bulletin to think over the problem and take part in the discussion.

I want to use the opportunity for expressing public gratitude to Odessa human rights protection center ‘Rutenia’, the Union of soldier mothers of Odessa and Odessa Union of veterans for their support in the case of Artur Nigrutsa.

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