St. Petersburg City Court overturned the decision of the Kuibyshev district court on the claim of Jacob Goldstein to enlistment commission to refuse to replace military service with Alternative Civil Service. The interests of the conscript represented by lawyers human rights organization “Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint-Petersburg”
In 2016, Jacob Goldshtein submitted to the military commissariat an application for the replacement of military service with Alternative Civil Service, motivating by the fact, that the military service contradicts his pacifist convictions. After hearing the conscript's arguments, enlistment commission made a positive decision and acknowledged that Goldstein has the right to serve without weapons.
After this, Jacob Goldstein enrolled in a Medical College, in connection with that he took deferment of call-up and was not sent for Alternative Civil Service. However, during the training period, the conscript was forced to take academic leave, and after he left educational institution at all, for personal reasons.
After, the deferment of call-up has ceased, Goldstein responded to a summons in the military enlistment office, in order to be sent to Alternative Civil Service, however, the officials considered, that the previous decision of the enlistment commission on granting the right to Alternative Civil Service has become invalid, In this connection, they demanded that the pacifist write a new statement.
Jacob Goldstein agreed and filed another application for the replacement of military service with Alternative Civil Service, having considered this application April 5, 2018, enlistment commission refused him, considering that by this time, he had already missed the legal deadline, for applying for Alternative Civil Service.
The pacifist filed an administrative claim to the court to declare the decision of the enlistment commission unlawful, exercising call up citizens for military service, living in the territory of the municipality of number 82 "Vladimir district", however, the decision of the Kuibyshev District Court of September 25, 2018 refused to satisfy the stated requirements.
In its decision, the district court indicated that Goldstein had violated the deadline for filing the relevant application for the replacement of military service with Alternative Civil Service, and also considered that he “does not have a certain religion and did not convince the enlistment commission that his beliefs contradict military service”. Moreover, the court of first instance considered the admission of the young man to the medical college as “evasion from the Alternative Civil Service”.
With the help of lawyers of the human rights organization “Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint-Petersburg” Alexander Peredruk and Alexander Gorbachev, Jacob Goldstein appealed the decision of the Kuibyshev District Court.
Firstly, he stated that the decision of the enlistment commission denial of possibility to perform Alternative Civil Service and the decision of the district court violated his rights, guaranteed by article 59 (part 3) of the Russian Constitution, as well as article 9 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which protects the right to freedom of conscience and religion.
Goldstein also drew attention to the fact, that the Kuibyshev District Court of St. Petersburg did not give a proper legal assessment to the fact that the enlistment commission, refusing to replace of military service with Alternative Civil Service, did not refer to specific information or documents that could cast doubt on his anti-war beliefs, which, he twice (in 2016 and 2018) consistently stated in written statements, submitted to the enlistment commission, which in 2016 recognized the right of the pacifist not to serve in the army.
Secondly, he considered that the deadline for submitting an application for the Alternative Civil Service, if it was missed, should be restored, since he was late informed with the order of exclusion from educational institution. In addition, the first application for Alternative Civil Service back in 2016 was filed by him within the prescribed period.
Thirdly, Golshtein indicated that the current legislation allows the possibility of abolishing the conclusion to replace of military service with Alternative Civil Service, as well as the need to confirm it during periods of subsequent conscription, not established.
Finally, the court of first instance’s conclusion that the enrollment of the conscript at the medical college “may be regarded as evasion of Alternative Civil Service”, seemed obviously unfounded, as the deprivation of a citizen of a one constitutional right (right for Alternative Civil Service), in connection with the implementation of another constitutional right (right to education) contradicts basic constitutional principles. The legitimate implementation of a citizen of their constitutional rights and freedoms сan not entail adverse legal consequences for him.
Having considered the appeal of Jacob Goldstein on December 5, 2018, the St. Petersburg City Court agreed with the conscript’s arguments (http://sankt-peterburgsky--spb.sudrf.ru/modules.php?name=sud_delo&srv_num=1&name_op=case&case_id=23081469&case_uid=6F323421-7D0D-4786-97E4-1FFC21712E8C&delo_id=5&new=5) and completely reversed the decision of the Kuibyshev District Court of St. Petersburg. The court issued a new decision on the case, with which it satisfied the requirements to declare the decision of the enlistment commission to replace of military service with Alternative Civil Service as illegal.