Christian Receives Jail Sentence for Refusing Military Service on Conscientious Grounds

Country: Ukraine

Date of incident: January 16, 2023

On the 16. January, 46-year-old Vitaly Alekseenko was given a one-year jail term for refusing the call to the military on conscientious grounds. The Ivano-Frankivsk Appeal Court rejected his appeal against his conviction and has sentenced him to jail starting on the 19th of January. Alekseenko is the fifth known case of court conviction due to conscientious objection, but he is the first one to receive a jail sentence. Alekseenko told Forum 18 that he is "not guilty under the law of God".

Alekseenko said to Forum 18: "I told the court I agree that I have broken the law of Ukraine, but I am not guilty under the law of God. I want to be honest to myself."

According to Mr Alekseenko, if he would have repented his refusal, the Court would have granted him a suspended sentence. He had been summoned to the recruitment office in Ivano-Frankivsk in June 2022. After he explained to the recruitment office that he could not take up arms because of his religious belief, he was refused an alternative civilian service and his case was handed to prosecutors. On 15. September 2022, the City Court handed down a one-year jail term conviction, to which Alekseenko appealed.

Yurii Sheliazhenko, the secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, called the court decision "bad news". He considers it "a dangerous precedent that the appeal court upheld a sentence of imprisonment for a conscientious objector." 

The other four men who have been under court conviction received suspended sentences. These are the following:

- 18. May, 2022, Andrei Kucher, Mukachevo. He was sentenced to 4 years of probation;

- 21. June, 2022, Dmytro Kucherov, Oleksandriya (Kirovohrad region). He was sentenced to 3 years of suspended imprisonment;

- 17. August 2022, Oleksandr Korobko, Mukachevo. He was sentenced to 3 years of suspended imprisonment;

- 22. August 2022, Maryan Kapats, Mukachevo. He was sentenced to 3 years of suspended imprisonment. 

Source: cne.newsForum 18Lebenshaus

Picture: Twitter