‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Andrei Kapatsyna is a political prisoner

30 December 2023

Andrei Kapatsyna, an air traffic controller from Magadan, has been sentenced to two years and 10 months in a penal colony for refusing to take part in the war against Ukraine because of his religious beliefs.

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Andrei Kapatsyna a political prisoner. He was convicted of ‘refusing to take part in combat operations’ for refusing, as an evangelical Christian, to participate in the war against Ukraine. Kapatsyna’s criminal prosecution violated his rights to freedom of conscience and fair trial.

We demand the release of Andrei Kapatsyna and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

What are the charges against Andrei Kapatsyna?

Andrei Kapatsyna is an evangelical Pentecostal Christian from Magadan. He worked as an air traffic controller but, in September 2022 shortly after mobilization was announced, he was called up for military service. Although airport employees are entitled to an exemption from military service, Kapatsyna was taken to a military unit in Vladivostok before his employer had filed the necessary paperwork for an exemption with the military enlistment office.

On 20 October and 1 November 2022, at the military unit, Andrei Kapatsyna twice refused to go to the war zone in Ukraine, stating that he could not take up arms and shoot people because of his religious beliefs. In March 2023, a criminal case was opened against Kapatsyna for refusing to take part in combat operations (Article 332, Part 2.1, of the Russian Criminal Code).

On 29 June 2023, a military court in Vladivostok sentenced Kapatsyna to two years and 10 months in a low security penal colony. In court, Kapatsyna repeated that he could not kill people because murder is a sin. In August 2023, the Pacific Fleet Military Court upheld on appeal the verdict against Kapatsyna.

From the time of his mobilization until the appeal against his sentence had been heard, Kapatsyna was held with other refuseniks in a military unit in Vladivostok.

Why do we consider Kapatsyna a political prisoner?

The article of the Russian Criminal Code criminalizing refusal to participate in combat operations was quickly adopted at the time of the announcement of ‘partial mobilization’ on 21 September 2022.

At the same time, President Putin by decree significantly restricted the rights of military service personnel and unilaterally changed the terms of their contracts, depriving them of the opportunity to leave military service.

We consider that the president’s decree contradicts Article 59 of the Russian Constitution, according to which a citizen can refuse to perform military service if it goes against their beliefs. This right, which everyone has in every situation, takes on special significance when what is at issue is participation in a war of aggression. Andrei Kapatsyna, a follower of the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith, has repeatedly emphasized that he refuses to participate in military actions because of his religious beliefs.

A detailed description of the case of Andrei Kapatsyna and the position of the Human Rights Project are set out on our website.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

You can write a letter to Andrei Kapatsyna at the following address:

In Russian: 685918, Магаданская область, Хасынский район, пос. Сплавная, ФКУ КП-2 УФСИН России по Магаданской области, Капацыне Андрею Андреевичу 1995 г. р.

English translation: Andrei Andreevich Kapatsyna (born 1995), Low Security Penal Colony No. 2, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Magadan region,  Splavnaya Settlement, Khasynsky district, Magadan region, 685918, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter via the Zonatelekom service.

Please note that letters in languages other than Russian are highly unlikely to reach the recipient.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via our website. 

Translated by Rights in Russia

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