For Immediate Release
June 28, 2000
Russian Court in Kaliningrad recognises the right of Jehovah’s Witnesses to choose alternative civil service
On June 16, 2000, the Chernyakhovsk Municipal Court in the Kaliningrad Oblast has granted Aleksandr Kondrashkin’s appeal of the decision of the enlistment commission regarding military service. Aleksandr, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses has asked for alternative civil service in place of military service. The court has obligated the enlistment commission of the Chernyakhovsk United Municipal Military Commissariat (UMMC) to fulfil Aleksandr Kondrashkin’s request.
“The court has confirmed the citizen’s right to alternative civil service in spite of the absence of a corresponding law,” says the lawyer Sergei Svetkin, “The Constitution of the Russian Federation is a law of direct application, but the right to alternative civil service is secured in part 3 of article 59 of the Constitution.”
The Kaliningrad Oblast is located in the most western part of the Russian Federation. This federation subject does not share a border with any of the other regions of Russia. Kaliningrad is a city located on the coastline of the Baltic Sea. It is the administrative centre for the Kaliningrad Oblast. Before July 4, 1946, the city was called Koningsberg and it was the centre of West Prussia.
At the court hearing, the representative of the Chernyakhovsk UMMC did not dispute the Constitutional standards mentioned above and he stressed that Kondrashkin’s religious convictions do not allow him to perform military services. However, due to the absence of a law for alternative civil service, the enlistment commission was not able to fulfil his request.
“Although Jehovah’s Witnesses as a whole are well known for their neutral stand regarding military service, every individual Christian makes their own personal decision based on their conscience,” explains representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Aleksei Nazarychev. “The Bible is our guide. History shows that the first Christians also took such a stand.” Professor C.J. Cadoux writes, “Up to the reign of Marcus Aurelius at least [161180 C.E.], no Christian would become a soldier after his baptism.” (“The Early Church and the World”).
Noteworthy is that the Chernyakhovsk Municipal Court of the Kaliningrad Oblast has consequently confirmed the citizen’s right to alterative civil service since, this is already the second case when the court has cancelled a decision of the enlistment commission. On December 24, 1996, the Chernyakhovsk Municipal Court of the Kaliningrad Oblast cancelled the decision of the enlistment commission of the Chernyakhovsk UMMC, enforcing that Sergei Starunov, also one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, be granted alternative civil service.
Contact: J.R. Brown (718) 560-5600