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Russian Soldier Jailed for 5 Years for Refusing To Fight in Ukraine

Mobilized Russian reservists at an assembly station. Russian Defence Ministry / TASS

A Russian court has sentenced a 24-year-old professional soldier to five years in prison for refusing to fight in Ukraine, officials said Thursday.

The soldier, "not wanting to take part in a special military operation," did not report for duty in May 2022, the court press service in the republic of Bashkortostan in the southern Urals said.

Law enforcement located the man, Marsel Kandarov, in September, the statement added. 

Separately, a military tribunal said it sentenced Kandarov to five years behind bars for evading military service for more than a month during mobilization.

Russia announced the mobilization of 300,000 men in late September to buttress Russian troops on the ground in Ukraine. 

The announcement triggered an exodus of men from Russia, with many fleeing to neighboring countries including Armenia, Georgia, and Kazakhstan.

Critics say many of those mobilized had no combat experience and had received little training before being sent to the front.

The sentencing comes a day after a military tribunal in Moscow sentenced a soldier to five years and six months in a penal colony for "beating" an officer during an argument, Russian state news agency TASS reported Wednesday. 

The soldier expressed "his dissatisfaction" with the training being given to newly mobilized servicemen outside Moscow. 

While speaking, he blew cigarette smoke into an officer's face, who responded by pushing him away. The private then pushed the officer in the chest.

A video of the incident that circulated online showed the soldier complaining of poor training, using obscenities, and calling the drills an "imitation."

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