FHM has been funding the rent of a small office for an advice centre in Kazan (Tatarstan), which provides legal and other advice on alternative service for conscientious objectors. The centre also helps in cases where there is an illegal attempt to conscript people who are exempt from military service, and increasingly it provides advice to serving soldiers and their relatives.
Every month the centre holds about 40 individual consultations. It has helped with a variety of problems including difficulties applying for alternative service, and advice for conscripts about illegal conscription, bullying, money extortion or health issues.
Publicity has included mounting a one-person informational picket outside Draft Board offices. On one occasion officials were aggressive and called the police, who took the advisers off to the police station on charges of holding an unauthorised demonstration. The police “let us know that they didn’t want to arrest us, but that the order had came from higher up”.
An official from the Center for Combating Extremism questioned them. Then after almost three hours some members of the Tatarstan Observation Commission (a government legal rights watchdog) turned up, and as a result it all ended with no fine or charges.
Photo: Publicising the advice centre in Kazan