April 01, 2022

Refusing to Kill


Refusing to Kill
Refusing to murder is not a crime. Flickr, Matt Spurr

In an interview with the Independent Russian media outlet Meduza, lawyer Mikhail Benyash explained why 12 soldiers that he represents were (merely) fired for refusing to go to Ukraine—and why it is important that they try to get their jobs back.

As it turns out, Russian soldiers are obligated to fight in wars and armed conflicts, but not "special operations." By refusing to call the war in Ukraine what it actually is, the Russian government inadvertently provided a legal way for soldiers to refuse to fight.

In the wake of the news, hundreds of soldiers from all over Russia have reached out to Benyash seeking advice on how to refuse to fight in Ukraine without risking their futures. If the 12 soldiers that have already been fired are able to get their jobs back, it may provide precedent for countless others to follow suit.

In the words of Benyash: "[Soldiers] ask me whether they will be able to continue working. I tell them: from a legal point of view, yes. From the point of view of what is happening in Russia... We'll see."

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