The invalid soldier intends to stand up to the end.
Nikita Balotsin contacted the kp.by editorial office hoping that the publication of his story would give him a leap of hope to solve the problem. The guy was invalided out of the army because of health problems. Now he's trying to defend his rights by providing the necessary evidence to the Defence Ministry, but all the doors are closed.
- In 2018, I graduated from Yanka Kupala Grodno State University. I immediately got several job offers. A month later I made an agreement with one of the companies and moved to Minsk to work and live in," Nikita says.
The young man is an international lawyer by education, he got a job in a private company in the blockchain marketing department.
- Everything was great, the job place was perfect. But on 31 August I was summoned to the military registration and enlistment office of Hrodna and Hrodna district to pass the medical examination. It was a problem to work in Minsk and visit doctors in Hrodna. There were about 30. I agreed to work remotely from Hrodna. Moreover, the employer prepared all the necessary documents for the application for service in the reserve. The refusal said that it was a private company and they were not interested in such cases. They made it clear that a fixed-term service awaited me.
- Apart from the job and the prospects you might have lost, were there other reasons not to serve?
- Of course. I knew my health was far from good to serve in the army. My medical history has duodenal bulb ulcer. I had treatment for the last time a few years ago. But I had so many ulcers that I was surely invalid to serve in the army. My diagnosis has no expiration date. It means they can't draft me.
Nikita is ready to provide documented proof. The young man has all the necessary medical certificates, copies of statements and documents, which he shows journalists and the army.
- The examination took much time. By that time I had successfully passed the probationary period with a salary of 1000 rubles and signed an annual contract with a salary of 1500 rubles. But his work was fated to fail. The medical commission declared me valid with restrictions, even though I had previously been recognized as invalid because of stomach ulcers and duodenal bulb ulcer.
We were puzzled and read official documents. We learned that there was a so-called "disease schedule". If officially, it's "Resolution No. 51/170 of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus of December 20, 2010, which classifies diseases to determine the category of eligibility of citizens for military service.
Nikita's diagnosis was found in article 57, "Diseases of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum". An important clarification - point B, column I, there is a note - NGM, which means "invalid for military service in peacetime, is partially valid for military service in wartime."
- I decided to take a stand. I made an appointment to see the regional military commissar. At the meeting, he said the decision was reviewed again, and that I had no grounds for deferment or unfitness because then I am valid and all the laws had changed. He said that the date of the disease had expired. And I had my ulcer problems long ago, and now they do not matter. Yes, during the medical examination, the ulcers didn't bother me. But I wasn't valid anyway.
On November 27 Nikita was drafted. Of course, the guy lost his job and contract for 11 months.
- After 3 months in the army, I was taken to hospital. Can you guess the reason? Ulcer! The doctor was surprised by how I got into the army. He said if I had documented proof, I had to be invalided out. He also confirmed that my diagnosis had no expiration date. That is, they had no right to draft me.
- I will clarify. Was the diagnosis mentioned in your medical history during the medical examination?
- Yes, but they ignored it. I will get ahead of the story and say that when the proceedings started, the doctors said that the polyclinic did not provide them with the necessary documents in time. And now they say that I got an ulcer in the army.
Later I spent time in the hospital. My parents started to file requests and the military and medical inspection was opened. I was sent to Minsk. I had to pass the entire examination from the very start. As a result, I was found unfit for service for illnesses I had before the draft and was transferred to the reserve.
What do I have in the end? Six months of illegal stay in the army; 9000 rubles of damage - this is my total salary for six months, loss of my job and moral damage.
- Have you already got a new job?
- I can't find a job for two months now. I'm dealing with problems I have because of the negligence and illegal actions of the draft commission.
- What result do you want to achieve?
- First, the complaint was filed to Hrodna regional prosecutor's office. We received a formal reply, which made it clear that the complaint had been sent to the military registration and enlistment office. So far, no results. The prosecutor's office did not even take the case under control. They just obliged the military registration and enlistment office to inform me about the proceedings. Of course, the military registration and enlistment office pleads not guilty. It says that the commission was legal and correct. I intend to continue my fight. I want to get compensation for lost profit (i.e. all my wages under the contract for six months), which is 9000 rubles plus compensation for moral damage of 1000 rubles. In total, it's 10.000 rubles. But I was told openly that I would not get any compensation.
We have learned that the complaint is now in the Main Organizational and Mobilization Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus. There have been no results so far.
Human rights activist: "A helicopter with doctors may not arrive in the army in 5 minutes. One should defend conscripts in advance"
We asked the head of the Human Rights Center "Legal Assistance to Public" Oleg Volchek if Nikita had any chance to defend his rights and get compensation. He also gave recommendations to parents and conscripts to help them avoid such problems with the army.
- Alas, the rights of conscripts are commonly violated during the draft medical examination. It seems that many doctors at military registration and enlistment offices do not realise the degree of responsibility that lies on them, and do not fully realize what medical examination and military-medical expertise mean. It's time for the qualification of medical personnel in conscription commissions to be appropriate," the human rights defender said. - In Nikita's case, we deal with the negligence of the draft medical commission. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the young person can appeal to the court and demand compensation. He has legal grounds for it. The amount requested is real. In his case, there is also an abuse of power. An appeal may be submitted to the Investigative Committee at the location of the conscription commission against the chairman and/or vice-chairman of the commission, depending on who signed the decision. Now the young man should find a competent lawyer who would be ready to sue the state together with him. I believe it will not be easy. At least because I have not heard about such cases yet. But, frankly speaking, I am glad to know that they appear and that Belarusians start to defend their rights.
In this case, the young man is really lucky to be invalided out. We are now fighting for soldier Aliaksandr Aerau, who has almost thirty diagnoses. Including problems with eyesight, liver, and he is a machine gunner... Doctors decided that he could serve.
- What responsibility do the doctors who sent an unhealthy soldier to the army have?
- There are two important points. The first is damage to the state.
A man is drafted into the army, and then it turns out that he cannot serve for health reasons. But money was spent on his food, training ...
In such cases, the military unit should file a lawsuit to the local authorities that created the conscription commissions for reimbursement of these expenses. When the state starts to practice it, the number of such cases will also reduce.
The second is that doctors are also personally responsible for their mistakes.
- Now the army misses soldiers. As we can see, both healthy people and those who are not are being recruited. Has the number of requests to help increased in this regard?
- Until recently, the majority of appeals to us related to Decree No. 3 ("On Facilitation of Employment" - Ed.), but over the past six months, we have had many appeals from conscripts. I know for sure that unconscious realtors and lawyers have activated and now offer solutions to potential soldiers in their way. I always warn conscripts, I mean criminal responsibility for forgery and evasion from the army. I am sure legal mechanisms should be used. But for now, it is complicated. When I was at the meeting with the Minister of Defence, I proposed to create public councils for the transparency of the army, which could include human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and former military personnel, as it's done in the CIS countries. I proposed to establish parents' committees in the army, as in Russia. So far, however, the army's prestige has been declining, and the army is hostile to parents and human rights defenders. I am not against service in the army. This is indeed a constitutional duty, I used to serve in Afghanistan. But we need to serve in the army, which has all the necessary conditions.
- What piece of advice could you give parents and conscripts to reduce possible risks?
- First. Conscripts usually have diseases before they are recruited. If one's medical history includes such diseases, I offer to collect all the relevant papers six months before conscription. If you are drafted in the fall, go to public health institutions or private ones, which have licenses to provide medical services. And you should have documented proof of your diagnosis for the conscription commission.
Second. As soon as you are 18, I advise you to issue a power of attorney to your parents, so that they could represent their son's interests in the military registration and enlistment office, court, health institutions, investigation committee, etc. I will explain. When there is a problem in the army, a power of attorney ensures one with the right to get replies. And it takes several months to execute it. By the way, it concerns not only army problems. If a guy is in the army, his parents won't be able to solve his civil issues without such a power of attorney either.
Third: as soon as the first summons for a medical examination has been received, it should be attached to the case of a conscript.
Fourth. If the conscription commission recognizes you as valid for service in the army, but you do not agree with it and can prove it, you have the right to appeal against the action of an official body and ask to provide another doctor. You can ask the military commissar for alternative specialists. As far as I know, military recruitment offices have a list of departmental medical facilities that can examine conscripts.
Fifth, any action of the conscription commission you disagree with can be appealed through the court. This is your constitutional right. Do not wait until you are sent to a military unit. As long as the court proceedings are in progress, the decision of the commission is suspended and the conscript cannot be sent to the army. It is also important because one can insist on a forensic medical examination, and it will be an expert decision.
Sixth. A request to parents. Do not expect that you will be able to solve the problem in 2-3 weeks, proving yourself right. The process can protract for six months or a year. To sue and write complaints is a complicated and long process, and many, alas, surrender in 2-3 months. Stand till the end. As the practice shows, it is barely possible to quit the Belarusian army for health reasons, especially for conscripts.
The army sued the district executive committee for a sick conscript - and won the case
It turns out that there have been cases when the army has already called the district executive committee to answer for a "defective" soldier
Recently, the medical commission of the Brest region underestimated the health condition of the conscript. As a result, a guy from the Pruzhany district who had a neurological diagnosis was sent to the army.
It turned out that the neurologist failed to assess the strength, tonus and tropism, as well as to see signs of muscular atrophy. The military sued.
According to the law, responsibility for the damage caused by the unjustified conscription is born by local bodies that created the conscription commissions. As a result, the military unit demanded the Pruzhany district executive committee to reimburse 923.17 rubles for the "defective" conscript.
This amount included expenses for clothes, combat training, food, treatment, etc.
The court satisfied the claims of the military unit and ordered the district executive committee to pay the entire amount of the claim plus Br600 of state duty.