‘High treason’: Foreign military service faces scrutiny in bill under preparation

©  Caitlin Ochs
A lawmaker from the centrist-conservative ruling party United Russia has told reporters that he was preparing a bill that would make undertaking military service in certain foreign forces ‘high treason’.

Evgeny Fyodorov said in an interview with Izvestia daily that he intended to draft amendments to the criminal code during the forthcoming autumn Duma session. He also said that the bill would outlaw the service in the military forces or private military companies of nations that use sanctions or other discriminative measures against Russia or its citizens.

We intend to alter the article of the Criminal Code that deals with crimes against the state and details citizens’ responsibility for rendering financial, material, technical, consulting or other aid to a foreign nation. We decided to particulate this ‘other’ part by banning the service of our citizens in any military formations of states that pose a threat to our security,” Fyodorov said.

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He explained that today all countries that have imposed sanctions against Russia fall under this definition.

Fyodorov also said that he wanted to punish military service in enemy states with 10 years in prison, but if the anti-Russian policy of this country becomes aggressive such service would become high treason.

Chairman of the Russian Union of Military Servicemen Oleg Shvedkov said in comments that Russian citizens often joined the French Foreign Legion and less often enrolled with the US military forces, but there was no official statistics on this issue. He added that in his own opinion people who enlist in the foreign military forces must be stripped of their citizenship.

A source in the Russian Defense Ministry also told Izvestia that they had no information about Russian citizens who had served or were serving in the foreign forces.

Fyodorov has become famous for his controversial initiatives to protect Russian national interests, sometimes bordering on isolationism. Among other things he proposed a ban on foreigners participating in Russian marches and rallies and ban state companies from using the services of US consulting and auditing firms. He also put forward the idea of nationalizing the Russian branch of Google over reports of its cooperation with the US special services.

The MP was also among the principal sponsors of the ‘Aggressor Nations Bill’ submitted to the Duma in December 2014. This draft defines all countries that introduce sanctions against Russia as ‘aggressor nations’ and orders automatic reciprocal sanctions against them.

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This bill was prepared in response to the European Union, the United States and several of its allies imposing economic sanctions in summer 2014 on senior Russian officials and some larger companies over Russia’s alleged role in the current crisis in the east and southeast of Ukraine.

In early August, Russia introduced its own counter-sanctions banning the imports of meat, fish, cheese, milk, vegetables and fruit from Australia, Canada, the EU, US and Norway. In 2015 Russia prolonged the sanctions for another year.