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Pregnant Russian Soldier Jailed for Desertion

Female Russian soldiers march in a Victory Day parade in Moscow. Alexander Avilov / Moskva News Agency

A pregnant Russian soldier has been sentenced to six years in prison for desertion in a precedent-setting case, the newspaper Kommersant reported Monday.

Lance Corporal Madina Kabaloyeva was found guilty of failing to report for duty during Russia's "partial" mobilization, which started in September 2022, a wartime crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Southern Russia’s Vladikavkaz Garrison Military Court sentenced Kabaloyeva to six years in a general-security prison colony, according to Kommersant.

Kabaloyeva’s lawyer appealed the decision, but a judicial board of the Southern District Military Court upheld the initial ruling.

Kabaloyeva argued in court that her unit’s medical company had recommended that she temporarily leave service during her pregnancy and was confident that the medics would pass on the recommendation to her command.

Military prosecutors argued that because she continued to receive military allowances and benefits, Kabaloyeva was still technically serving and therefore had to be held liable as a deserter.

The court granted a temporary suspension on Kabaloyeva’s prison sentence until 2032, when her first-born child, who is now five years old, turns 14.

Kommersant notes that Kabaloyeva is Russia’s first female soldier to be convicted for desertion since Moscow's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

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