Grigory Pasko: Interview with Oleg Kozlovsky, Part 1

“Shaving into a soldier” – a method from two centuries ago But it doesn’t scare the young oppositioneers of Russia Part 1 By Grigory Pasko, journalist Oleg Kozlovsky is the leader of the youth Russian movement «Oborona». On the «Oborona» website, you can read that the members of this organization consider themselves the “new, free generation”. “We”, it is said in the organization’s declaration, “grew in a free country, we are not used to being cattle, you can’t herd us into a paddock. We do not fear authority, and we are not burdened by the experience of the Soviet past… we care about the future. kozlovsky031408 Oleg Kozlovsky, shown here with the «Oborona» movement’s flag, is growing back his hair and beard after having been “shaved into a soldier” (photo by Grigory Pasko)

“…There is another type of young people – thinking, daring, interested in the fate of their country, ready to take upon themselves responsibility for their own future. There are a few of us yet, but we already are and we grow in number every day.”The leader of «Oborona», Oleg Kozlovsky, definitely creates the impression of a thinking, daring person, interested in the fate of his country.Oleg is an active participant in and organizer of the “Dissenters’ Marches” – public protest actions by citizens of Russia against the arbitrariness of the powers. To these actions, the power responds with even greater arbitrariness – arrests of the activists, the filing of fabricated criminal charges, beatings…Oleg has already spent five days in a cell at a “special receiver” (that’s what they call the place where they hold persons who have been temporarily arrested; previously, these establishments were used exclusively for holding alcoholics and street vagrants. The Putinite power has come up with the idea of holding political prisoners and all manner of dissenters in them) for participating in an allegedly unsanctioned rally (the fact is that under the Constitution of the Russian Federation, permission is not required to hold a rally – the organizers simply have to notify the power of the place and time such a rally will be held).Then it turned out that Oleg Kozlovsky is so disliked by the Putinite power that they had decided to isolate him for a long time. But here, let him tell us in his own words how this took place.Oleg, how did it happen that almost immediately after the “vagrants’ cell” at the special receiver, they forcibly “shaved you into a soldier”? [This Russian idiom, zabrit’ v soldaty, refers to the fact that one of the first things done to a young man to turn him from a civilian into a conscript is to completely shave his head (this is also done with new prisoners)—Trans.]Everything happened unexpectedly. After getting out of the special receiver, police officers came to the address of my certificate of domicile in Moscow and started asking the neighbors about me, supposedly because someone suspected of extremism had come to me. When I was leaving for a while to Ukraine, police officers stopped me at the railroad station and said that I was an extremist.I felt that something was afoot. On the Day of the Chekist, 20 December of last year, I went out of the house in the morning. Suddenly I was stopped by policemen and two in civilian clothing [colloquial Russian for plainclothes officers working for “the organs”—Trans.] (later, at the military commissariat, they told me that they were from the FSB). The policemen said that they have a paper from the military commissariat and that I need to go there.I thought that this wasn’t serious: they’d hold me a few hours, find out that I had completed the military department and am studying at another university [these being two irrefutable reasons for a person not to be called for conscription by the military commissariat—Trans.] and would let me go. At the military commissariat it became clear that they had decided to play this game seriously. In the course of half an hour they had me see several doctors – they supposedly conducted a medical commission. The quickly found me fit for service in the army, completely ignoring my declarations about how I can not serve by medical indicators as well. Naturally, I showed them the student ID of the university where I’m studying, and said that I had already completed a university with a military department. They told me that the student ID could be fake, while documents on the awarding to me of a military rank [he would be a reserve officer after completing the military department at his university—Trans.] were lost by them.Soon an order was written on my conscription for service in the ranks of the army. It is noteworthy that the order itself they did not give me in my hands, so there would not be an opportunity to appeal it in judicial procedure. Then in a police care with a siren – real VIP treatment – they drove me off to an intake center. That too is where relatives brought medical documents, but they did not accept them from them, apparently so as not to spoil the intended plan.From the intake center, where they quickly took care of all the formalities of conscription, they drove me to near Dmitrov of Moscow Oblast. There I announced a hunger strike as a sign of protest against unlawful conscription. Soon they sent me off to Ryazan in the accompaniment of FSB officers, and from there – to a desolate military unit in a forest.To get to the village of Dubrovichi near Ryazan, where “my” military unit was found, is very difficult. They were confident that I have no communication, I’m isolated, the story will die down, and everything will be good for them. But at this time in Moscow there were already actions taking place in my support.And in general, everything went not according to the FSB’s script. First, I was able to get in touch with comrades-in-arms, we’ve got the experience. Second, I filed a complaint with the military procuracy of the Ryazan garrison for unlawful conscription. Third, I demanded an independent military certification. As a result of all this, they sent me off for a medical examination and started to check the circumstances of my conscription. (By the way, I should add that these results are not known to me to this day).After the examination at the Ryazan military hospital, they found me unfit for service in peacetime. Apparently, this decision of the Ryazan health care professionals did not fit into the FSB’s plans. Therefore, the central military-medical commission of the ministry of defense in Moscow noted this decision and directed me for a second examination to Krasnogorsk. I was there a long time, then they once again drove me to near Ryazan. In an ambulance. Good thing it’s still not in railroad cars for arrestees – «Stolypins» – and not in an autozak.From the military unit they let me out after the dissenters’ march, which took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg on 3 March, after the elections. It is noteworthy that they had the decision on demobilization already on 28 February. That is, they obviously didn’t want me to be able to take part in the march.Oleg, it is known that this is already not the only case when an undesirable person is drafted into the army. Recently, such a thing took place with an opposition activist in Kirov, Denis Shadrin. Why all this? A trying out of methods? Is the power looking for and trying out new ways of intimidating and isolating those who actively speak out against it?It should be noted that even back in tsarist Russia this method – “shaving into a soldier” – was used against undesirables. Apparently, they’ve decided to resurrect it. The developers of such a method of isolation figured: there are lots and lots of violations in the military commissariats; one violation more, one less… And they also figure that people in society will think this isn’t political arbitrariness, but rather shortcomings in the work of the military commissariats.The method has justified itself to a certain extent: they succeeded in isolating me. Without opening a criminal case, without planting narcotics and weapons… I think that in such a situation, it’s very important to get the military to be held liable – so that henceforth they would think twice about whether to commit these dirty deeds on the orders of the FSB or to refuse.