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"Voluntary" compulsory COVID vaccination in Russia
What happens if you refuse vaccination in the Russian military?
What would happen, hypothetically, if a Russian soldier was told to get injected with something—Sputnik V, for example—but didn’t want to get injected? Could they just say “no,” and that would be the end of it?
That seems to be the new hot take on Telegram.
Russian citizens have a Constitutional right to refuse forced medical interventions. No one disputes this (and it’s not really “news”). Russia’s Independent Association of Physicians made the same argument in their September 30 letter to Vladimir Putin.
Since the introduction of Russia’s “safe and effective” COVID shot, advocacy groups have been pointing out that coercive injections are unlawful, and have been issuing legal guidance to those who want to challenge these policies.
But who says the Russian government cares about the law? It is, after all, a government.
Objections to “voluntary-compulsory” COVID vaccination were reported months before “official” mandatory decrees were introduced.
For example, in January 2021 an activist group from Volgograd told local media that conscripts were being injected with Sputnik V without any kind of prior consent:
“Today, in the medical unit of the military unit, a mass vaccination of conscript soldiers against coronavirus with Sputnik V took place,” Anastasia told Vysota News Agency. “I learned about this from the activists of our organization, whose relatives work there. At the same time, no one told 18-year-old boys that they could refuse vaccination. No one explained their rights to them, no one asked if they wanted to be vaccinated…What happened is outrageous. This is a violation of the Constitution. In addition, I believe that the consequences of vaccination have not yet been studied, which means that this may affect the health of military personnel.”
The press service of the Southern Military District responded by insisting COVID vaccination was carried out with informed consent.
A similar case of “voluntary” vaccination was reported in the same month:
Maxim Churilov, a conscript from the Sevastopol military unit, ended up in intensive care after he was given a coronavirus vaccine. This was announced by his grandmother Irina Churilova, noting that earlier the soldier's written refusal to be vaccinated had not been accepted. However, the press service of the Southern Military District denied information about the incident.
As Churilova told Reedus, after the conscripts were informed about mandatory vaccination, Maxim tried to explain that he had not received any vaccines since childhood because of the risk of severe allergies. According to the woman, military doctors did not accept refusals and introduced Sputnik V to the conscript. A few hours later, the soldier’s condition worsened and he was hospitalized. In addition, there were reports on social networks that after vaccination in the unit, about 20 servicemen fell ill with a high temperature, and no help was provided to them.
Keep in mind: this peculiar variety of “voluntary vaccination” occurred five months before the Ministry of Defense formally adopted compulsory COVID vaccination for all military personnel.
Now let’s take a look at what “informed consent” looked like after the Russian Ministry of Defense issued its mandatory vaccination decree on June 18, 2021.
From July 22, 2021:
A scandalous story happened in one of the military units in Kamchatka. There, conscript soldiers who refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus were sent for a conversation with the FSB and for a psychiatric examination, the guys are constantly pressured, and their commander told them he hoped they would “die from COVID.”
For refusing to be vaccinated, according to the woman, the commander threatened to send them to a guardhouse, and in front of their unit he wished the three “refuseniks” to “die from COVID.”
The mother of the soldier, having learned about what was happening, wrote an appeal to the military prosecutor’s office.
A few days after her appeal, three soldiers who refused to be vaccinated were sent for a conversation with the FSB, and one of them underwent a psychiatric examination—despite the fact that the guy was drafted and passed all the medical commissions required for a conscript.
The woman is very worried about her son and other guys:
“This is the army. I don't know what other forms of pressure might apply there. Our family wants only one thing: that their son is not forced to be vaccinated, that they stop creating difficulties for him, that they allow him to serve normally,” said the mother of a conscript soldier.
The military prosecutor’s office of Kamchatka was not ready to promptly respond to requests from Kamchatka journalists regarding the incident.
To sum up: Conscripts who decided to exercise their Constitutional rights and refuse to get injected with a “safe and effective” Sputnik V slurry were threatened by their commanding officers, interrogated by the FSB, and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluations.
In November 2021, 18-year-old Bogdan Siratsky—a conscript serving in Astrakhan—lost the ability to use his arm after receiving a Sputnik V shot.
According to his mother, Bogdan had no memory of ever consenting to being vaccinated, and military doctors tried to get him and other conscripts to retroactively sign consent forms:
A conscript soldier from the Gorodishchensky district of the Volgograd region has his arm paralyzed after being vaccinated against the coronavirus. 18-year-old Bogdan Siratsky was vaccinated in the military unit of the Astrakhan region, where he was called up for service. […]
Elena Siratskaya is a single mother of many children. Her husband died two years ago. One of the sons of a resident of the Gorodishchensky district, Bogdan, was drafted into the Russian army in May of this year. The young man ended up in the 439th Guards Rocket Artillery Perekop Order of Kutuzov Brigade, a tactical formation of the Russian Ground Forces. The brigade is deployed in the city of Znamensk, Astrakhan region.
“Everything was fine, we called up on weekends, prepared for the oath, collected documents, did tests to get a pass to the unit,” said Elena Siratskaya. “Once he called me and said that they were vaccinated against the coronavirus. I asked: “Did you get vaccinated? Did you sign the consent?” He said: “I don’t know, I signed a lot of papers, I don’t remember whether there was consent there or not.” […]
“Then, according to my son, a lieutenant ran up to him and said that they were asking for all his medical documents, but they couldn’t find his consent to vaccination,” recalls the mother of the serviceman. “On the same day, doctors came into his ward and began to force everyone to sign an agreement on vaccination against coronavirus retroactively - on May 28! He refused, of course. They freaked out and left.”
A update published a month later revealed Bogdan had also lost feeling in one of his legs, and was being kept in a psychiatric ward.
When the Ministry of Defense announced in June 2021 that compulsory COVID vaccination would apply to all military personnel, they meant it. If the Russian military cared at all about the “legality” of such a policy—and if it was genuinely committed to making vaccination “voluntary,” and based on “informed consent”—there would have been no need for a compulsory vaccination decree. Think about it.
If exercising your legal right to refuse vaccination results in threats from your superiors, visits from the FSB, and psychiatric evaluations, vaccination is not voluntary.
That’s of course assuming you are even given the opportunity to sign a piece of paper “consenting” to vaccination—which, as documented above, is not always the case.
Shoigu expertly explained the Russian Ministry of Defense’s position on “voluntary” vaccination in August 2021: No one is being forced to get vaccinated (even though the Russian military has compulsory vaccination)—because there are no “anti-vaxxers” in the military! ….
“So far, we don’t have ‘COVID dissidents’ or, as they are also called, ‘anti-vaxxers’. I hope that this will continue, because everyone understands that the tasks facing the Armed Forces [mass compulsory vaccination] do not imply any additional [health] risks,” Shoigu said.
Who even talks about “legality” in 2022? That ship sailed years ago, friends.
But if you’re going to argue “there is no ‘real’ compulsory vaccination in Russia, because that would be unlawful!” what you’re really saying is: “Russians have been forced against their will to get vaccinated, which is unlawful, and the Russian government—just like every other government on earth—doesn’t care. Oh, and anyone who tries to refuse these unlawful ‘decrees’ gets harassed and yelled at by the FSB.”
Compulsory COVID vaccination for civilians: Also not legal, but who says that matters?
There have been ceaseless and embarrassing efforts in the so-called “independent media” to downplay and even deny the existence of compulsory COVID vaccination in Russia.
Thomas Röper has boldly claimed that vaccination has been entirely voluntary in Russia, and that attempts to force Russians to get injected “could hardly be implemented in practice”; such measures are “probably just intended to put pressure on people to increase the vaccination rate.” No harm, no foul?
“Last summer there were reports in Russia that employers were being obliged to ensure that 60 percent of their workforce were vaccinated, which also made waves in the German media. At the time, I immediately wrote that this could hardly be implemented in practice, because how should employers decide who is to be vaccinated and who is not, in order to reach 60 percent? The government instruction was probably just intended to put pressure on people to increase the vaccination rate, which has had limited success.” — Thomas Röper, October 4, 2022
A quick question for Röper: if compulsory vaccination was never “implemented in practice”—and if these decrees were not enforceable—why have Russians been challenging these (unlawful) policies in court—and losing?
If Russians aren’t subject to coercive vaccination, why would they bother taking legal action? And if these policies were short-lived and had no meaningful effect, why are they still in effect in many regions?
As this blog has documented in detail, the claim that regions are formulating COVID policies independent of the federal government is a laughable untruth. It is nothing less than a direct assault on observable reality.
In fact, the federal government has bent over backwards to find loopholes for unlawful vaccination decrees.
When Moscow introduced the country’s first compulsory vaccination decree on June 16, 2021, Labor Minister Anton Kotyakov initially said it was unlawful for employers to fire employees who didn’t want to get the jab.
Hours later he issued a clarification: workers could be “suspended indefinitely” without pay for refusing to get vaccinated.
“If the region has a sanitary doctor’s order on the compulsory vaccination for certain categories of workers, then an unvaccinated employee can be removed,” he helpfully explained.
See? Russians can’t be fired for refusing to get vaccinated—they can only be suspended indefinitely. Ergo, vaccination is entirely voluntary.
Four days after Röper hilariously insisted that compulsory vaccination does not exist in Russia, Kommersant reported that workers in numerous regions were still unable to return to work after refusing to be injected:
Russians, who were suspended from work at the height of the pandemic because they did not want to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, have been fighting for more than a year to no avail to return to their jobs.
Teachers, educators, doctors, workers, engineers, employees and “representatives of many other professions” asked the head of state for help, pointing out that “numerous appeals to state bodies and law enforcement agencies are not properly considered”, and in the courts they face “lack of independence , objectivity and impartiality.”
Voluntary vaccination, in action.
“Voluntary” vaccination for mobilized Russians?
According to official information issued by the Russian government, Sputnik V is not currently on the list of mandatory vaccines for mobilized reservists. However, mobilized Russians are included in the Ministry of Defense’s compulsory vaccination decree, and the decision to make COVID injections compulsory is subject to change, depending on the “epidemiological situation” in the country.
On October 12, the Orenburg region announced it was “organizing a phased vaccination of mobilized Orenburg residents against infections - influenza and COVID-19, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis A and pneumococcus.”
A day earlier, RIA Novosti reported the official list of mandatory vaccinations for mobilized Russians (influenza, hepatitis, typhoid, diphtheria and tetanus).
The article ended with a rather ambiguous statement about COVID vaccination:
Military personnel must be protected from COVID-19. If they have not been vaccinated in advance, then they can be vaccinated in the army.
Let’s just hope it’s based on voluntary, informed consent. (Ha-ha.)