21.05.2000 | I.Sukhorukova, Kharkiv

Happy end of ‘deserter’ Nigrutsa’s case


‘Prava Ludyny’ published several notes about the case of A.Nigrutsa, who had been condemned for deserting. Since 1998 the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection, supported by their colleagues from Odessa and the Crimea, has turned to the highest instances, asking to reconsider the verdict.

At last Artur Nigrutsa is at large. On 20 April the military collegium of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, presided by M.Dryga and consisting of judges V.Bondarev, O.Volkov and prosecutor O.Fediushin, considered the criminal case of A.Nigrutsa by the protest of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. The military collegium agreed with the protest. By the resolution of the military collegium the punishment of A.Nigrutsa was decreased from four years to the actual term which Nigrutsa stayed in prison (two years and two months). The court considered the circumstances ‘which forced A.Nigrutsa to desert’ extraordinary and, according to Article 44 of the Penal Code of Ukraine, decreased the term of the punishment.

Kharkiv region Union of soldiers’ mothers regards the resolution of the military collegium humane. However, several questions about this complicated case have remained, and they concern first of all the application of Article 241 of the Penal Code of Ukraine about deserting.

Let us think together why do we, the country with peaceful defensive doctrine, need the article on deserting? Why does this article stipulate such long terms of incarceration? Why is this article preserved in the new version of the Penal Code? We have some experience of meetings with servicemen, who escaped from their military units, and these meetings convince us that young men leave their units because of their unwillingness to serve or by some criminal motives only very infrequently. As a rule, serviceman run because of dedovshchina or because of diseases, especially psychic. Do we need to preserve this cruel article, if in the most cases the convicted servicemen were brutally treated during their service? In the case of A.Nigrutsa the most guilty are those who recruited the invalid, then military doctors who did not treat him, then those doctors who negligently examined him, when directed from the prosecutor’s office. The court, fast and biased, did not take into consideration any mitigating circumstances, although Nigrutsa’s father kept telling during the trial that his son was gravely ill. It is paradoxical that the best medical treatment A.Nigrutsa got in the colony. In the medical department of the colony he was attentively examined and treated as carefully as poor material resources permit.

A.Nigrutsa is a citizen with respect to whom the state did not fulfil its duty.

Now A.Nigrutsa’s parents intend to prosecute the Ministry of Defense. Maybe, in the course of investigation, detectives will elucidate how it could happen that he got a trauma during his service and not a single one in the battalion paid attention to it. Unfortunately, the neuropathologist of the Kharkiv garrison hospital considered A.Nigrutsa healthy without any medical examination.

Our legislators should think to which degree the article on deserting corresponds to realia of our life. The law on the alternative service, which is quite obvious, does not correspond to these realia.

The draft of the law on the military service, in our opinion, does not solve urgent questions that stand before our society.

Legislators do not take into account the problems which our life generates. A deserter in the peaceful Ukraine is an anachronism inherited from the 30s. Another example is Article 400 of the draft of the Penal Code of Ukraine — voluntary giving in, which in the military time is punished by the term up to 15 years. In which time live those who compose such juridical masterpieces?

Artur Nigrutsa is free now. He works and undergoes medical treatment. But who knows how many such as he stay in our colonies now?

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