2013/10/10 "Commander: “You are cannon fodder for me” "
  • Press release # 43/1566
  • Date: 10/10/2013

The Mother”s Right Foundation provides support to complainants in the criminal law suit that started on October 01, 2013 in the Voronezh presidial military court. 

The mothers of two deceased boys, Larisa Surovtseva and Aleftina Nekrasova, asked us for legal assistance on this law suit. Their children, Nikita Belov (born in 1992) and Dmitry Nekrasov (born in 1993), two conscript soldiers, died on July 26th, 2012 at the military base 08318 as a result of a shell explosion at the Pogonovo polygon in Voronezh region.  Before his death Nikita Belov had served at the military base 08318 for only two weeks. Dima Nekrasov arrived at the base on July 25, the evening before the tragedy... Eleven other soldiers got various injuries, brain concussions and scratches. The investigation lasted for a year, and resulted in eleven volumes of the criminal case and the accusation presented under Article 286, Part 3, Clause c of the criminal code (abuse of office with causing grave consequences) to the commanding officer of the military base 08318 Lieutenant Colonel  Syurakshin who gave the order to clean the explosive field and the approach road from unexploded munitions. The lawyers of the Mother’s Right Foundation learnt the case materials given by the parents and offered all necessary consultations to the mothers of the deceased boys. To our view, the story of Nikita Belov and Dmitry Nekrasov’s death is a glaring illustration of commanding officer’s attitude to the recruits who happened to serve at his military base.

A quotation from the case materials: “The published order was of formal type, the demands were not presented to the man power of military base 08318 in the good order, the mine-lifting groups were formed according to Syurakshin’s verbal instruction, in conflict with his published order, fully from the military of the rigging troop of base 08318 including those not listed in the order, and the deminers did not at all take part in the cleaning work of the field from explosive objects.” In other words, Syurakshin by his order has sent the boys who had no idea about demining work to an extremely dangerous work of cleaning the polygon from unexploded munitions (!) One can imagine how the boys felt when they collected death-dealing pieces of iron at the polygon; just imagine yourself at a mine field.          

Now those who were lucky to survive give evidence in court.  From their evidence we find out new shocking details of this case.

For instance, this is the evidence of witness Mikhail P. who at the moment of the tragedy was another conscript soldier, just like Nekrasov and Belov, and here is the story told to us by Aleftina Arsenovna Nekrasova: “On July 26, 2012 during the forming-up Syurakshin set a task to the junior officers, and then senior Lieutenant Podolyakin ordered 30 people to go for cleaning, and other 30 people to build a bunker, so we the soldiers were divided in two. Nothing was explained or shown to us about the shells during the brief. Syurakshin simply said “Watch out”, that was it. Some of the boys objected it could be dangerous, and Syurakshin replied by shouting “You will do what I said! You are cannon fodder for me!”

These words said by Syurakshin were confirmed by a second witness; the two attorneys of the accused started resenting and protesting, but Aleftina Arsenovna Nekrasova asked the second witness to specially confirm that Syurakshin cried “cannon fodder” at the soldiers.

While answering the clarification questions of judge Kotlyarenko who conducted the hearing, Mikhail P. also specified he had no demining skills: “We were not taught and nothing was explained to us, I am a rigger”, “of course I felt it was dangerous for me to be at the polygon”. The demining of the polygon, according to Mikhail’s words, looked like this” “We walked a meter from each other and picked up everything that was there. We put no flags, we did not even have flags, we just picked up everything and put it into a KAMAZ. The were no deminers among us. There were no protective means, we were dressed in an ordinary summer uniform. When we loaded half of the car, the lieutenant said we should loadout all that into a pit at Point #3. He told us to step away at 20 meters and he followed us, too, and three people stayed to unload –Belov, Nekrasov and Musatov. We thought they would unload at first and then one of us would take their turn, and at that moment the explosion happened… ”.

The evidence of other boys who survived look similarly: there were no deminers, they were not taught, when they asked the lieutenants they found out the lieutenants did not know the demining either and they have served for not long at the base… .  Before his death Nikita Belov had served at the military base 08318 for only two weeks !). Dima Nekrasov arrived at the base on July 25, right before and on July 26th he died.

The parents of the deceased insist on the most severe punishment for the accused.

For further details on the case please contact the Mother’s Right Foundation.