23-year-old Lieutenant Pavel Petrakov, who graduated with honors from the prestigious Military Space Academy named after V.I. Mozhaisky in St. Petersburg, for the fourth month he has been “playing at the

ten”, that is, he goes to the service once every 10 days. Hundreds of freshly graduated Russian officers do the same: they, like Petrakov, graduated from military schools, were assigned to the duty station. They were horrified. And now they are trying to resign from the army. But the regime does not want them to quit for months.

Petrakov was assigned to serve at the main missile attack warning center, which is located In the village of Timonovo, near the Moscow region of Solnechnogorsk.

For many years this village was closed, and now even passer-by from the street can get into the officer’s hostel. The hostel became the last straw, after which Petrakov made the final decision to resign from the army.

– We tried to go with the commandant into the room that was allocated to me, but the door just banged and fell. There was innate poop around and there was such a stench that I almost vomited, – says Pavel.

The ragged walls in the dormitory and the stairs are stained with long-dried bloodstains. Windows in the corridors are smashed and are immediately lying around. You can shover only on the first floor. Cockroaches float in the pots left in the kitchen, toys, clothes are scattered everywhere, as if the people living here, as in the Chernobyl TV series, were urgently evacuated, and in one minute they abandoned everything as it was. But these are living quarters, it’s just that officers and warrant officers live like this with their families.

– When I went to the military school, I thought that the army is cool, the officers are the elite of the society. I could not even imagine that you can drink like that and yell at children. they are pigs at home and thump in the workplace, – says Petrakov. – The most disgusting thing is that they treat you like a beast: everyone who is even a step higher than you considers himself to be a god.

– As a cadet, I got used to the bad conditions. From the very moment we entered the academy, we lived for months at training camps in tents in the village of Lekhtusi, watched the same war films within our patriotic education, and raising morale. Now in the unit, we have a round table meeting every Friday, where the whole department discusses the “patriotic” works that we read in a week. During my service, I use a maximum of 10% of the knowledge that I received at the academy. And I do not want to dehumanize myself or degrade, but here it will not work in another way, it seems, – says Petrakov. – Of course, not all officers are drunkards, there are also decent people. But it seems that only loyal ones move up the career ladder and those who sign any documents without looking, covering up the lack of superiors. In general, loyalty is “instilled” from the academy: before the elections they carry out “work”, explaining who to vote for – it is clear that it has always been United Russia, and if you disobey, they say, there will be terrible problems. At first, I voted that way. And then I watched Navalny’s film about Putin’s palace in Gelendzhik.

For the fourth month, his documents for dismissal have been wandering around the authorities, as well as complaints to the prosecutor’s office about the inaction of the command.

Andrey Ivanov, commander of a medical platoon, doctor of a platoon of the 1st motorized rifle battalion, served in the village of Perevalnoye (Crimea), recorded his first video message 11 months after he filed a letter of resignation. And he was able to quit only after 1.2 years. Now he helps other soldiers who also want to leave the army ranks. According to him, there are now 120 people in only one closed group: they all turned to lawyers for help and have already submitted a report.

– I studied to be a doctor of the military space forces and ended up in the ground forces. After a month of service, I realized that there was no medicine. All my activity was reduced to working with weapons and personnel. I realized that with such a schedule, with a field trip after another. In October 2019, I filed a letter of resignation, because I wanted to treat people, and not to be engaged in drilling. But a month and a half passed, and there was still no decision. I wrote a bunch of complaints to the prosecutor’s office. I wrote complaints about the prosecutors themselves, who are inactive, etc. I learned that officers sometimes wait for dismissal for years that’s why I posted my appeal on YouTube. A scandal broke out, threats began. In response, I posted a new video about their threats.

– Lawyers of the Civil Shield society helped me with my dismissal, thanks to my videos, dozens of officers began to contact me. We wanted to establish a separate human rights organization that would help them quit, but the Ministry of Justice wrapped up our documents, so we just created a department, – says Andrey. “Everyone who comes to us for help is disappointed. Most of them came for a dream, “there is such a profession – to defend the Motherland”, entered the academy at the age of 17-18, then 5-6 years of study, then, hello, the army. And the worldview of many is changing, a collision with reality, again – terrible hostels, endless shifts, and unpaid overtime. Someone immediately decides to flee from there, someone suffers 2-3 years and still submits a report. Therefore, it is not surprising that technical specialists, IT specialists, doctors, and other owners of military specialties in demand in civilian life are striving to leave there.

The RF law “On conscription and military service” does not imply the possibility of terminating an early contract simply at the request of a serviceman. To end military service earlier than specified in the contract, good reasons are required, which are exhaustively spelled out in the law: these can be violations of the terms of the contract on the part of the military unit or violations on the part of the soldier himself. The first is practically impossible to establish in practice, so the officers go to any tricks and violations, if only they were eventually fired. At the same time, in the event of early termination, the lieutenant is obliged to compensate for the expenses that the state incurred for his maintenance and higher education, on average it is about 400 thousand rubles. The Ministry of Defense does not disclose the numbers of how many young officers in the first years of service want to break the contract and for what reasons.

“The army must be professional, but at the same time very, very strong in spirit,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with participants in the Territory of Meanings all-Russian youth educational forum. But even the officers do not want to strengthen the “fortitude” by the harsh realities.