Our correspondent in Russia, Grigory Pasko, has been following a tragic story that has been unfolding in Moscow. On December 20, police came to the home of opposition activist and “Oborona” leader Oleg Kozlovsky and forcibly took him to the local military draft board, where the medical commission obediently declared him fit for military duty, despite health problems. He was then immediately taken to a camp for draftees. (La Russophobe has also blogged about it here).
Kozlovsky, who recently reported being under constant surveillance by the organs of state security, is a graduate student at Moscow State University. Most Russian university students are required to undergo compulsory reserve officer training during their studies, through their university’s “military cathedra”, after which they are commissioned as reserve officers. Kozlovsky was no exception. By law, reserve officers can not be drafted into the ranks of ordinary soldiers. However, the documents in the possession of the draft board before which Kozlovsky was brought – not unexpectedly – did not contain any documentation about his reserve officer status, as a result of which he was promptly assigned the rank of private and sent to serve in an ordinary unit.Much has been written about the lawlessness and brutal hazing that takes place in the ranks of the Russian army. What has been done to Kozlovsky is nothing less (and quite possibly more) than a death sentence – there is no doubt that the sergeants and officers in his unit will receive instructions and encouragement to make his life in the army as hellish as possible.Kozlovsky’s family and supporters have set up a protest tent village outside the boot camp where he has been taken, and are appealing for help in saving his life. There is evidence to suggest that the entire incident of his illegal induction was orchestrated on instructions from the FSB.We will stay on top of this story, and post dispatches from Grigory Pasko as the events unfold.