Approximately 20 contract soldiers have filed complaints. Krivenko visited the Murmansk region in order to meet them. They claimed that their unit has been recently redeployed to a training range located about a hundred kilometers away from their unit to conduct operational coordination.
"They were trained in different military occupational specialties - as simple infantrymen, etc.," Krivenko said. "Then their commanding officer gives a speech and says that they are setting off on a mission trip to the Rostov region, where they will eventually cross the border to execute combat assignments."
When asked about cause for the mission trip, the colonel couldn't give a "sensible" response. Instead the officer "started to talk on patriotic duties saying that there's the war going on there, someone has to protect Russian people who die under Ukrainian bombs," the human rights activist said. The colonel threatened with a muster-out in case of refusal.
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The soldiers declared that they refused to go to Rostov in the absence of an order in writing, and that they would write reports. However, they said to the human rights activist that they wanted to continue their service.
In their complaints the soldiers also indicated that they had been transferred to the training range in KamAZ trucks covered with canvas without heating at a temperature of 10-15 degrees Celsius below zero, and that there had been issues with food on the training range.
As reported by Krivenko, an investigation commission from Ministry of Defense was sent to the Murmansk region for further investigation. The Ministry has not given an immediate response.
Previously, human rights activist from Murmansk Irina Paikacheva reported about 23 contract soldiers-missilemen from Murmansk, who claimed they had been directed for further service disregarding their military specialties to a training range to village of Sputnik on Jan. 25. The soldiers were informed that they would be redeployed to the "border with Ukraine", and they would have to cross the border eventually, Paikacheva stated.
According to information provided by the regional Committee of soldiers' mothers, the military unit authorities in Sputnik were obliged to gather a group for redeployment to Ukrainian border in a week after the contract soldiers of the unit had refused to obey the suggestion to sign up.
In the end of January, several soldiers of the military unit told the human rights activists that in November their military commanders had forced them and their comrade-in-arms (70 people in total) to sign contracts, and they had been subsequently sent to the Rostov region, where they presumably crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border. They didn't reveal the details of what they did across the border.
The military commanders promised them that later on they would be free to terminate their contracts; nevertheless, upon return from the "mission trip" in January, they failed to do so. After consultation with human rights activists all 70 soldiers submitted letters of complaint to their commanders. As reported by Paikacheva, the contracts were subsequently terminated.
Sergey Krivenko also told that the human rights activists are getting information about "pressing offers" to sign a contract made to many soldiers; however those who loath to do so have a chance to neglect it.
Human rights activists from Saint-Petersburg soldiers' mothers have previously informed about soldiers serving in Murmansk who complained about having been forced to sign up.
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