Draft board says requirement that draftee renounce faith is hoax



The military commissar of the Bakhchisarai district of Crimea, Pavel Vrublevsky, declared that he did not sign the draft notice containing a demand that a conscript present documents about his change of faith. He reported this to radio station Govorit Moskva on Monday, 19 June.


"None of my employees wrote the notation. I have officially appealed to agencies of the F.S.B. that they conduct an investigation of a case of forgery of documents and of a case of disparaging my honor and dignity," Vrublevsky noted. He called attention to the fact that the words about "change of faith" were written by hand. "The whole text follows a standard form, but the notation was made by hand by an unidentified person. How can I be responsible for the actions of an unidentified person?" the military commissar said.


Brublevsky added that for performance of alternative service, there is a list of required documents, established by current legislation, after which a conscript receives appropriate direction. "If you wish, I can summon here a priest, mullah, and representatives of other religious confessions. There has never been a problem with this in our multiconfessional state," he emphasized.


On 16 June, the Jehovah's Witnesses published on their website an image of a draft notice in which their adherent was required to appear at the military commissariat of the Bakhchisarai district "for actions connected with conscription into military service," and for presenting documents about a change in religious confession. It was claimed that there had been two such notices in all.


The religious organization clarified that on 9 June the commissariat suggested that the conscript perform alternative civilian service. He agreed, adding that he had been seeking this for a long time although then he supposedly was told that such a right would be granted only on condition of renunciation of his religious views. "It was not explained to the believer just which faith he should convert to and also where to get such documents, but it was added that in the event of refusal, he would be taken to court," the report noted.


In accordance with article 59 of the constitution, a citizen, "in the event that his convictions of religious confession prohibit performing military service . . . he has the right to substitute alternative civilian service for it."


In April, the Russian Supreme Court ruled the "Society of Jehovah's Witnesses" to be an extremist organization and prohibited its activity on the territory of the country. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 June 2017)

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