«Center for maintaining combat readiness»
Penal camp designed to break the will of Russian conscientious objectors
Mobilized Russians who disobeyed wartime orders are locked up in a former penal camp in Luhansk. Conditions are catastrophic there. They can only get out if they return to the front.
Russia mobilized 300,000 citizens. 87,000 are already at the front in Ukraine. But those who do not obey orders will be locked away.
If you don’t want to fight, you’re forced to. That seems to be the motto of the commanders of the Russian troops. There is no due process for conscientious objection for those who have been mobilized; instead, the soldiers are imprisoned. Their “readiness to fight” is to be restored behind bars – also with violence and humiliation.
In the former penal camp in the Ukrainian city of Perewalsk in the Luhansk region, even before the partial mobilization, soldiers who did not want to take part in the war despite being bound by a contract were illegally detained. Now the former penal colony, which activists have called inhumane, is back in operation. Now mobilized citizens who don’t want to fight are locked up there. Under the name “Center for maintaining combat readiness” their morale should be strengthened again. Because there the slogan is: fight or jail. This is reported by the opposition Russian news portal Mediazona.
The men live in tiny rooms. Mold is spreading on the ceiling, there is hardly any space between the beds, and the windows are barred. Instead of a toilet there is a bucket. Such videos make the rounds on the Telegram channel Astra. “That’s how we sleep, that’s how we eat in this room. Everything is wet, everything is dripping, »says the soldier in the video. The recordings are said to be from early October.
Soldiers faced with an ultimatum – either war or jail
On October 2nd, another video showed the same soldiers sitting in a basement. In the video, the man spoke about the fact that people who refused orders were being held here. The soldiers had withdrawn because they found themselves in a hopeless situation. “We were asked to go back to the front, but we said no,” says one of the soldiers. Now they don’t know what’s going to happen to them.
According to Astra, these men were taken to Perevalsk shortly thereafter. A soldier’s friend told Astra: “After ten days in the cell, prosecutors came and gave an ultimatum: either the front or a prison sentence of ten years.” For many of the convicts, being back in action is a nightmare. The hastily mobilized Russian troops usually have insufficient equipment and even less training, and are often sent into battle by their commanders as cannon fodder.
Mobilized are dragged back to the front
In order to prevent the escape from the camp, men from the Wagner mercenary troop are supposed to keep watch. Former contract soldiers who were imprisoned in Perewalsk before the mobilized, but who have since been allowed to return home, describe how precarious the conditions in the camp are. There are no hygiene items, there are no bed linens, and there is food once a day, if at all. Anyone who still doesn’t want to go to the front will be beaten up in the basement.
According to Mediazona, some men from Perewalsk are said to be fighting at the front again. But not voluntarily – they were also forced to do so by force.