Service Personnel Made to Sign Away Their Rights and Freedoms
The Defense Ministry is requiring officers and contract soldiers to sign a list of restrictions that is to be imposed on all service personnel, writes Izvestia.
Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov is requiring all service personnel who have contracts with the ministry to read a list of restrictions and bans that apply to them and sign it. Those who refuse will be discharged from the army, he said.
The document says that service personnel are restricted from a number of rights and duties guaranteed by the Constitution. The list contains approximately 40 such restrictions.
For example, if an officer is exposed to a state secret, he is denied the right to privacy, as guaranteed by Article 23 of the Russian Constitution.
Another rule says that service personnel have no right to criticize or even discuss a commander’s decisions “by exercising their right to freedom of speech.” They may not express “public statements, judgments or assessments” with respect to a command decision in the media, or “use their service status in the interests of promoting political parties, public associations or religious views.”
Apart from these restricted civil rights, service personnel are also banned from buying securities in companies and from joining the boards of foreign non-government organizations (NGOs).
“This agreement was to have been circulated and signed by all service personnel before the end of June, but the red tape got in the way,” Izvestia was told at the Ministry’s personnel directorate.
But some officers are refusing to sign the restrictive document.
“There are already some officers who refuse to sign, and their unit commanders are threatening them with dismissal,” an Izvestia source said.
Attorney Dmitry Agranovsky believes the ban on public statements is a violation of a service person’s constitutional rights.
“In this case ‘service ethics’ are involved, which is not a legislative norm. And breaching this is no cause for dismissal from the armed forces,” Agranovsky explained.
Equally inconsistent is the rule to deprive a person of the right to privacy. It is expressed too generally in this document and creates an opportunity for the authorities to violate the privacy of a serviceman too easily.
At the same time, Agranovsky admitted that certain restrictions of constitutional rights may be allowed to fulfill an official mission.
“In fact, the military voluntarily restrict themselves in terms of civil rights. If they don’t like it, they can always retire,” he said.
Frants Klintsevich, deputy chairman of the State Duma’s Defense Committee, believes the list, although containing legal contradictions, is still necessary for the country’s armed forces.
“Society’s increasing liberal tendencies are leading to the violation of a basic principle in the armed forces; a commander’s orders are absolute and must be strictly fulfilled without any discussion. The military are increasingly exposed to negative influences from various political, public and religious groups. The adoption of the list is a step towards reestablishing statutory order in the armed forces,” Klintsevich explained to Izvestia.
Kamchatka Government Dissolved for Association with Crime
Kamchatka Territory Governor Vladimir Ilyukhin on Thursday dissolved the local government over its increasing involvement with crime.
“All government members have filed their resignations, but they will continue to do their duties until further notice,” said a representative of the territorial authorities.
The governor explained his decision by saying that several recent cases involving government members discredit the local authorities.
“Today I signed an order to dissolve the government,” Ilyukhin said. “It is unacceptable for any official at any level to be mentioned in a crime report.”
The governor said that a new government would be formed within a month.
“We need the time to check each candidate with law enforcement agencies,” Ilyukhin said. “We will also review the work record of each senior official. Those who have an efficient work record will be reassigned to their positions.” The governor also did not rule out a reshuffle would be considerable.
“The resignation of the government is not a house cleaning campaign but a kind of review or certification,” he said. “Everyone who applies for state employment should be aware of the responsibility this implies. I expect that some officials will be reassigned to their posts because they are top professionals with years of experience. I repeat, though, that those whose reputation has been stained will be fired,” Governor Ilyukhin said.
A case in point concerns Sports Minister Viktor Kravchenko, who is involved in the embezzlement of nearly 7 million rubles and in a bribery case. According to investigators, in late July or early August 2011, Kravchenko, who knew about the planned budget allocations for the purchase of sportswear and equipment for the junior hockey teams, encouraged a local businessman to take part in the tender to supply those items. The businessman was overstocked and so accepted Kravchenko’s proposal. The result was allegedly shoddy goods at sky-high prices; moreover, some of the items were not designed for hockey at all. The territorial budget losses have been estimated at over 6.9 million rubles (about $220,000). Kravchenko was detained on August 9 at Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky airport where he was booked on a flight to Moscow.
Kravchenko is also suspected of knowingly accepting 2 million rubles ($62,870) from a company that failed to supply mountain ski equipment as contracted, whereas he should have imposed a penalty against the company.
No Sex. No Drugs. No Rock-n-Roll
The Russian Cinematography Union is calling for the Culture Ministry to lift the ban on a scandalous Serbian movie, but with the introduction of a restricted rating.
Film director Andrei Proshkin, who also heads the Russian Cinematography Union, sent an indignant letter to Culture Minister Ivan Demidov following the rejected distribution of Maja Milos’s movie Klip. Last winter the aspiring Serbian filmmaker won a Tiger Award at the Rotterdam film festival for her provocative drama.
The movie, which “contains very strong language, drug and alcohol abuse, and explicit sex,” was considered inappropriate for Russian audiences. Censors stressed that “despite the movie credits stating the actors are over 18, the story is set in a school and involves underage characters, which violates the federal law on protecting children from information that may affect their physical and mental health.”
Film distributor Kino Bez Granits (literally “cinema without borders”), known for its work in promoting art house movies, holds the distribution rights for the movie in Russia. Klip was due to be released on August 30, but a few days ago Director General of Kino Bez Granits Sam Klebanov tweeted that the company’s request to screen Maja Milos’s movie had been rejected.
Presenting an award to the Serbian film director, the Rotterdam film festival jury noted the daring nature of the movie. “It is a vigorous, sincere, honest and explicit film that breaks all the rules and uses modern means to recreate the shocking reality that exists in the minds of a generation that records everything on their mobile phones.”
The movie was not intended for wide release. Festival winners are often experimental, scandalous productions that usually have limited screenings in Russia and mostly for true art house enthusiasts. In his letter to Demidov, Andrei Proshkin stressed that “the Ministry did not have the right to ban the distribution, but did have the right to give it a restricted audience rating.”
It is in fact a ridiculous attempt to ‘protect’ all categories of Russian viewers, even adults capable of responding to unconventional art, from the miasma of edgy art.
“This ban could have serious implications,” Andrei Proshkin told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
He added there had been no response to his appeal from the censors.
The growing number of complaints from journalists and filmmakers are evidence of the emergence of a disturbing trend. The Ministry of Culture seems to be unresponsive to the ever increasing number of questions – such as what is going on within the arts and culture watchdog and what is its new directive?
The exaggerated fuss about Klip could be the beginning of a wider censorship. Should we now expect any movie containing sex, drugs and rock-n-roll to be swept from our screens?
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