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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Kozlovsky Update: He's Been Spirited Away to Ryazan, Protester Allies Beaten, Arrested reports further details on the fate of Oleg Kozlovsky (this is our in-house translation, not by our professional translators):

Echo of Moscow radio reports that it has been informed by Oleg Kozlovsky's mother that "we have received information that earlier today Oleg was removed from medical facilities at the army barracks where he had been inducted (military unit 11291 in the Dmitrov district of Moscow), to which he had been taken after beginning a hunger strike to protest his illegal induction, and taken to the city of Ryazan. The military refused to give the family any further information. The medical staff was as surprised as the family by the actions of the army. He was apparently allowed to visit with his parents once since his seizure. Kozlovsky was seized on Thursday morning at the entrance to his apartment building. As a reserve officer, his status precluded induction in this manner.

Other Russia reports:

OMON Special Forces have violently dispersed a sanctioned opposition protest in Moscow, the Sobrok@ru news agency reports. Around 40 people had gathered in Arbat square, coming together to speak out against violations in the December 2nd State Duma elections. The demonstrators also brought signs to show support for Oleg Kozlovsky, a leader of the Oborona youth movement.

A protest in support of Kozlovsky. More photos here.

On December 20th, Kozlovsky was apprehended near his house by a district militsiya officer, and taken to the local military enlistment office. Young men in Russia are required to serve as conscripts in the Russian army, although exemptions are made for University students, and students may train to become reserve officers instead. Kozlovsky had completed training courses at Moscow State University, and was certified into the officer corps.

The enlistment office claimed to have lost Kozlovsky’s documents, and proceeded to question him. Subsequently, he was illegally enlisted into the army as a common soldier. Kozlovsky was also subjected to a medical examining board, which ignored a medical condition that excludes him from service. He has since been sent to a military base to start his service.

Roman Dobrokhotov, another youth leader who attended the protest, said:

“Oleg Kozlovsky is my friend, and we have organized political actions together many a time. It is apparent to me, that if a person with medical issues, who is studying at University and holds the rank of reserve officer suddenly finds himself at a military enlistment office – that is a political order from above.”

The peaceful demonstration lasted only half an hour. Swinging night sticks, officers charged the demonstrators, hauling some 20 people off onto waiting mini-buses. Their crime is described as changing the subject of the picket from what it was registered as. As yet it remains uncertain whether any of the protestors were seriously injured.

The Other Russian coalition has denounced the arrests, and has said that Kozlovsky’s detention was politically motivated. “We take note that the Oleg Kozlovsky’s forcible dispatch to the army represents yet another method in the campaign against political activists. It stands side by side with murders, beatings, forced psychiatric hospitalization, threats, arrests, shake-downs, and other,” the coalition’s press-release stated.

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