"I am senior lieutenant Dmitry Vasilets," the political prisoner tells NO.Media in a video interview. Screenshot from video

The Murmansk officer who refused to fight in Ukraine is declared political prisoner by human rights organisation Memorial

Dmitry Vasilets got 2,2 years behind bars for his unwillingness to go to war. The sentence is a violation of his constitutional rights, Memorial argues.
June 16, 2023


The senior lieutenant served in a military unit in the Kola Peninsula and was sent to Ukraine in the early phase of the war. After five months on occupied land, Vasilets got a leave.

He never returned to the battlefield.

During his leave, the young man turned to Buddhism. He informed the Armed Forces that the war contradicts his conscience and religious faith and requested alternative service, a right entitled him by the Russian Constitution.

On the 7th of April 2023, he was given a 2,2 year prison sentence, the Russian version of the Barents Observer reports.

The verdict is a violation of Vasilets’ constitutional rights, Memorial underlines, and on the 13th of June the human rights organisation declared the officer a political prisoner.

In a statement, Memorial underlines that the verdict is not only a violation of Vasilets’ freedom of conscience and his right to get a fair trial, but also aimed at forcing Russians to take part in in the military actions in Ukraine.

Following the launch of its full-scale war against Ukraine, Russia has adopted a string of repressive military laws aimed at servicemen. On the same day as the so-called partial mobilisation was announced 21st of September 2022, a decree was signed on the limitation of servicemen’s right to cancel service contracts and leave the battlefield.


“Nobody can force me to kill people,” Vasilets tells Novaya Gazeta in an interview.

He underlines that he did not want to flee Russia and that he is not afraid.

“Why should I run away” My country, my land is here. There is point in being afraid. People have a choice. You can move into the unknown with an open heart and not fear misery because you understand the truthfulness of your path,” he said.

“The main thing is not to betray oneself,” he underlines in a video.



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