ONE WEEK BEFORE ACS, BELIEVER IN BREST FINED FOR REFUSING TO BEAR ARMS
Krinitsa Christian News Portal, 4 July 2016
On 24 June, after review of an appeal, the Brest provincial court upheld the verdict regarding a 21-year-old Jehovah's Witness from Malorita district, Viktor Kalina, who was found guilty of evading the draft for military service. The decision was issued one week before the law on alternative civilian service (ACS) took effect on 1 July.
On the basis of his religious convictions, Viktor Kalina had already tried for two years to get alternative civilian service. In September 2015, a court in the Moscow district of Brest had acquitted Kalina, having established that he had no intention to evade military service and had requested to be allowed to perform ACS. In February 2016, the Supreme Court granted the protest of the prosecutor's office against that decision and remanded the case for reconsideration. And in May the court issued the directly opposite verdict, fining the believer 21 million rubles. At the same time the court did not take into consideration Kalina's request to allow him to perform ACS, arguing that at the time of conscription and consideration of the case, the law on ACS had still not taken effect, Deutsche Welle reports.
The believer said that he "was ready to undergo alternative service and to perform any civilian work." "Understand, I have read in the Bible the sentence: 'A people pleasing to God will not learn to fight.' I want to follow this principle: to not bear arms and have nothing to do with military organizations. I am ready to do my duty to the motherland, but only by alternative means," Viktor Kalina said in an interview with onliner.by.
If he does not succeed in challenging the verdict in Belarus, he plans to file an appeal with the Committee for Human Rights of the United Nations, Dmitry Chernykh, a representative of the Belorussian Helsinki Committee, noted. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 July 2016)
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