This is the story of pacifist Nikita Konev, who was convicted for refusing military service for reasons of conscience. A person who has gone through the thorns of bureaucracy, didn’t give up and achieved his aim - the right not to take up arms. Today is the last day of his alternative service.

Nikita is from Kirovsk, a small town in the Murmansk region, located at the foot of the Khibiny Mountains, where the most northern ski resort in Russia is located. Here took place all the events related to the Konev’s consciousness objection and subsequent trials, lasting for three years.

In the spring draft of 2011, Nikita Konev filed an application to the conscription commission to replace military service with an alternative civil service (ACS). However, the conscription commission, without considering the application in accordance with the procedure established by law, during two draft periods decided to send a pacifist to the army. Twice Konev appealed these decisions to the court, seeking the right to serve without weapons in his hands. This was the reason for the criminal prosecution of a consciousness objector - attempts to appeal to the court and defend his constitutional right to an alternative service were regarded by the prosecutor as intent to evade conscription to military service (Part 1, Article 328 of the Criminal Code).

Lawyer Sergei Golubok and Nikita Konev in 2013

The trial looked more and more like the "Process" of Franz Kafka. The case against the pacifist caused a wide public response - in support of Konev acted members of the Presidential Council on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, and criminal prosecution were covered both by local and federal media. However, in 2013, the Kirovsk Town Court of the Murmansk region found the young man guilty of evading military service and sentenced him to a fine of 130 thousand rubles.

After the conscript paid the fine, he again filed an application for alternative civil service, which this time was considered in accordance with the law. As a result the young man received a positive decision - the conscription commission made a decision to replace the military service on ACS.

At the end of April 2016, Nikita Konev started the alternative civil service at the Russian Post in Kirovsk. Today, on January 29, the alternative service comes to an end – today he is coming back from leave with subsequent dismissal.


Kirovsk (Murmansk region)


A day at civil service

Konev served as postman and within a year and a half, about 50 houses or 3,000 apartments received all correspondence due to his work - for 6 days a week from 9 to 17 Nikita walked about 60 kilometers.

As a rule, the working day of the alternative serviceman is quite full, although it is not too inventive: in the morning a car arrives at the post office, filled with various correspondence: registered and simple letters, parcels and packages, newspapers and magazines, bills and advertising - first he should take and sort out everything by the whole team, and than each employee is responsible for delivering mail items on a strictly defined route.

Delivery took from 3 to 5 hours, after which Konev left for a lunch hour. In the last hour of the shift, each postman is also required to submit an activity report.

By the end of the service, dedicated work had paid off - the last two months, Nikita was entrusted with more honorable work - processing of registered letters on the computer. Civil serviceman practically stopped "going to the delivery", with one exception - he still distributed pensions. Outside work, Nikita Konev was doing sports, regularly visiting the gym, as well as searching additional income - mostly on the Internet.

Nikita Konev. Photo from personal page at

The stereotype that the state is the guarantor of rights and freedoms - collapsed

Nikita Konev does not hide the fact that the criminal prosecution and attempts to protect the constitutional right not to wear a military uniform had a strong impact on his life.

«All this made me grow up earlier. I stopped looking at the world through rose-colored glasses and began to see the reality", - Nikita told us. "Confronted with the system, I saw how it works in fact, what kind of people work in it and most importantly - how. This applies to all - from the military commissariat and the investigation committee to the prosecutor's office, lawyers and courts».

Konev recalls that as soon as the story of his confrontation with the militaries began, he was sure that he would achieve justice. «In the trial process it became absolutely clear to me that our courts are not a place where this can be done», - Nikita sums up. "This is a theater based on a coordinated script, and attempts to reach the truth do not make any sense".

The stereotype that the state is a guarantor of your rights and freedoms, to which you can apply for help, collapsed. Nikita understood that everything that was happening around was a farce. According to him, this is the most important lesson learned by the pacifist.

Don’t  let  anyone bother you and do what seems to you to be  right. -  Franz Kafka. The Trial

At the same time, Konev finds positive moments - he is convinced that he has become more intelligent and legally savvy, but most important is that he changed his attitude from  «I am obliged» to the questioning «And based on what?». «Today I assess any life situation not from the position of a slave - if so said, then I must, but from the position of the mind. It helps me in life», - reflects Nikita.

Civil serviceman quotes Nietzsche and comes to the conclusion that, on the basis of his own experience of fighting for his right, he was convinced that «everything that does not kill us makes us stronger».

You are constantly being intimidated

Today, when years have passed since the criminal prosecution, Nikita recalls that the most difficult thing he had to endure was the constant nervous tension that was present throughout all administrative and judicial proceedings.

«It's very difficult to stay calm when you are constantly being intimidated and introduced uncertainty about your future. Although the mind understands that this is done specifically to force you to do what they want, but with such a system of control you begin to doubt everything», - says the pacifist.

Certain inconveniences Nikita Konev connects also with the fact that constant visits to the investigative committee and the courts prevented him from finding a job - employers did not want to take a person who is constantly asking for leave. However, after he managed to get a job at a mining plant with a good salary.

I paid for what already belonged to me

When Nikita Konev's case started, no one could imagine that as a result, for the right guaranteed by the Constitution of Russia, he would have to pay such a price - 3 years of trials and 130 thousand rubles in fine - all for right to pass an alternative civil service, which authorities did not want to give to a pacifist. But as a result, Nikita still achieved what he absolutely legally demanded from the state.

«I paid for what already belonged to me - the right guaranteed by the Constitution. It is totally annoying», - Konev summarizes.

It is not as pessimistic as it might seem at first sight.

«Today it is senseless to fight the system from the standpoint of enforcing your rights and freedoms, this must be done to protect the rights and freedom of the whole society», - declares Nikita Konev. He is still convinced that if everyone will demand from the system what he or she legally belongs to them - the system will change over time.

These people helped me in a difficult period, your help was invaluable, thank you for everything.

Nikita Konev expresses gratitude to everyone who helped him to realize the right to alternative service: «Soldiers' mothers of St. Petersburg», Elena Popova, Alexander Peredruk, Sergei Golubok, Irina Paikacheva, Gleb Paikachev, Vitaly Servetnik, Yuri Ignatiev and many others.

From 2014, «Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg» won five criminal cases on accusation conscripts of evading military service. In addition, several cases did not reach the court and were closed at the preliminary investigation stage.


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