2012/12/06 "It’s Certainly Cynical…"
  • Press Release No. 81/1515
  • From 06/12/2012

Today, December 6, 2012, the Mother's Right Foundation worked in the Nizhegorodsky District Court, Nizhny Novgorod, to represent the rights of family members of 13 veterans in a class action suit. Here are the names of the veterans: Mikhail Avramchenko, Eduard Alexandrov, Vladimir Baranenko, Dmitry Volkov, Artem Gol'tsov, Andrey Grinchenko, Valery Kosarev, Andrey Kulakov, Stanislav Stepanenko, Alexey Telegin, Sergey Teryayev, Alexander Yarosh, Alexander Yashin. Recently, human rights violations of family members of dead servicemen have become so widespread that the Mother's Right Foundation has to file class action suits. Victories of the Mother's Right Foundation in such suits restore the rights of a group of claimants who live in one region. The same is true for the current trial.  The Military Commissariat of Nizhny Novgorod Region denied all these families an increase (32%) in the amount of their loss-of-breadwinner pensions. Such decision was not enough for the Commissariat that sent to the court Mr. Razumeiko, Head of the Social Department. During the court session, the Commissariat's representative alleged that the servicemen did not participate in any military action at all. He did it looking into the eyes of the parents and widows of the dead servicemen... In particular, because of his allegations the court requested for additional (unnecessary) documents on Dmitry Volkov, who participated in military actions for 150 days and was killed while rescuing his comrades. As a result, the decision was postponed, and the servicemen's families have to wait.

The interests of the families of the deceased servicemen were represented by lawyer of the Mother's Right Foundation Anna Mukaseyeva. She stated the foundation's position: according to Article 45, p. "d" of the Law "On Pension Provisions for Servicemen...", family members of servicemen who died in action have the right to an increase of 32% in the amount of their pensions. The foundation's lawyer gave convincing arguments for the plaintiffs' right to increased pensions.

The Commissariat sent two representatives to the hearing: Mr. Alexander Razumeiko, Head of the Social Department, and lawyer Ekaterina Bystrova. She did not say a word during the hearing, while Mr. Razumeiko spoke for the two of them. As soon as lawyer of the Mother's Right Foundation Anna Mukaseyeva finished her speech, Mr. Razumeiko asked:

‘Why do you believe that these persons are veterans? Did they receive veteran certificates?!'

(Indeed, the deceased servicemen failed to receive their certificates, since they died...)

The lawyer of the Mother's Right Foundation responded:

‘Veteran status should not be mixed up with a veteran certificate. According to Article 3 of the Annex to the Law "On Veterans", a serviceman receives the veteran status as soon as he arrives at the zone of action. A veteran certificate is a document confirming his right to measures of social support. A veteran receives a veteran certificate if he wants to receive social benefits. Even if for some reasons, he does not want to receive a certificate, his veteran status remains.'  

‘Why have you concluded that Article 45 of the Law "On Pension Provisions for Servicemen...' provides increased pensions for veterans" family members?' continued Razumeiko. ‘Where does Article 45 say that the increase is due to parents of dead servicemen?'

The Mother's Right lawyer explained in detail the foundation's position. She noted that the law should be treated comprehensively; an article should not be taken out of context. The law "On Pension Provisions for Servicemen..." provides three types of pensions. Two of them - a disability pension and a service pension - are due to servicemen themselves. According to article 28 of the law, a loss-of-breadwinner pension is due to a family member of a dead serviceman. Thus, a disability pension and a service pension are due to living servicemen, while a loss-of-breadwinner pension is due to dead servicemen's disabled family members.

All of a sudden, Razumeiko asked:

‘Where is Alexandrova's work book?'

‘Why do you need it?' all the parties were surprised by the question. (Alexandrova's work book has nothing to do with the discussed issue.)

‘The case materials do not include her work book!' exclaimed Razumeiko.

For some reason, Judge Elena Rakhmanova, asked Captain Alexandrov's widow:

‘Could you please bring your work book to the next hearing?'

‘All right, I will,' politely agreed the widow of the serviceman who died in a burning tank

Then, the Commissariat's representative made a speech. He began from afar:

‘More than half of our country was occupied by the fascists during the Great Patriotic War,' said Razumeiko with an air of importance. ‘However, that does not mean that all those who lived in occupied territory are veterans. It is not enough to cross the border of Chechnya to become a Chechen war veteran! Participation in a combat is needed!'

At this point of his speech, the dead servicemen's family members became outraged: their sons and husbands were not just present in the territory of Chechnya, but rescued their comrades at the expense of their lives like, for example, Artem Gol'tsov, whose "heroic deed will always be remembered" (from the letter to his mother); some of them performed their duty despite wounds, like Valery Kosarev...

However, Razumeiko continued:

‘Being in the territory of the North Caucasus District does not mean participation in action! Dmitry Volkov died in the year of 2000, but it was a counter-terrorism operation, not a war!' informed Razumeiko. ‘Volkov's file has a document which confirms that he performed his duty in the territory of Chechnya. However, there are some doubts about the document! The commander of the unit where Volkov served was accused of issuing untrue documents. Volkov died together with Stepanenko. All documents on Stepanenko are in the case materials, but Volkov's file is not complete.'

Thus, Mr. Razumeiko accused the unit's commander of fraud in the presence of all those present at the hearing...

Lawyer of the Mother's Right Foundation Anna Mukaseyeva objected: the official documents confirming Dmitry Volkov's participation in military actions are enough: certificate issued by M.U. 62892 and confirming that during the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya, Dmitry Volkov spent 150 days participating in actions; Dmitry's military travel card; certificate issued by M.U. 54046. Besides, Dmitry's mother was granted an increased pension because on June 7, 2011 the Mother's Right Foundation won her case. (Dmitry Volkov saved many people's lives when he drove a burning truck away from the column. Warrant Officer Stepanenko, whose widow was also present in the court, died trying to save Dmitry Volkov!)

However, after hearing Razumeiko's position, the court decided to request for additional documents from the military unit in order to make sure that Dmitry Volkov participated in military actions. The court hearing was scheduled for January 28, 2013.

The Military Commissariat of Nizhny Novgorod Region not only denied the families of the dead military servicemen an increased pension due to them according to the law, but in the person of Mr. Razumeiko doubted that the people, whose families we are representing, participated in military actions... The Mother's Right Foundation has been protecting the rights of families of dead servicemen for more than 23 years. During this period, the Foundation has received over one hundred thousands applications from such families but this case of outright cynicism is unique. Usually, officials confine themselves to rudeness towards servicemen's family members. They do not dare to stain the memory of dead servicemen. Today, the representative of the Nizhny Novgorod Commissariat abused the memory of the heroes who had gone through the hell of war, unlike him, happy and snug in his office.