Andrei Bitkov, who was kidnapped on the morning of May 22, has been sent from the Kaluga military enlistment office to a military unit, said Dmitry Kozhnev, Kaluga coordinator of the Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA/MPRA). The recent harassment of Bitkov and other Russian Socialist Movement (RSD) activists by law enforcement authorities was provoked by their involvement in the trade union struggle; in particular, they supported workers at the Benteler Automotive plant during a strike in March 2011.
According to Kozhnev, Bitkov was kept all day [May 22] at the military assembly point [in Kaluga]. “The draft board wanted to send him for an additional medical examination, but the FSB made a deal with the commander of the conscription center. On the part of the FSB, this was all organized by the very same Andrei who put pressure on Daniil Pyatov [another RSD activist],” Kozhnev said. Bitkov has already been dispatched to Military Unit No. 49345, in the Moscow region town of Shcherbinka.
“The actions of the security services and the military enlistment office are deliberate and blatantly illegal. A court hearing was scheduled f0r May 29 to decide whether Andrei Bitkov could be exempted from enlistment due to health reasons. In fact, Kaluga authorities are taking revenge on a active member of the labor and leftist movements,” said a an RSD spokesperson.
RSD and ITUA activists fear for Bitkov’s health and safety. The military unit where he has been sent is notorious for its cruel treatment of conscripts. In addition, there is every reason to believe that law enforcement agencies will soon carry out other provocations against leftist and trade union activists in Kaluga.
For more information, contact Dmitry Kozhnev, ITUA Kaluga coordinator, at +7 (903) 800-3696.