The Plenum of the Supreme Court of Russia clarified the application of the Criminal Code article on criminal liability for voluntary surrendering to captivity

The Plenum of the Supreme Court of Russia has clarified the application of the Criminal Code article on criminal liability for voluntary surrendering to captivity. “The courts must take into account that according to Article 23 of the Statute of the Internal Service of the Armed Forces of Russia, a serviceman should, during military action and even when separated from his military unit (subdivision) and surrounded by enemies: firmly resist against an opponent to avoid captivity; in battle, he is honor-bound to fulfill his military duties”. That’s what the resolution project prepared by the Plenum of the Supreme Court of Russia states.

The resolution claims that “surrendering to captivity constitutes a crime only if it is voluntary, that is, consciously and in the presence of the possibility of firmly resisting an opponent and avoiding captivity”.

Article 352.1 (“Voluntary Surrender to Captivity”) was included in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on September 24th, 2022, and covers three up to 10 years of imprisonment. The adoption of the article was preceded by incidents of mass surrender to the captivity of Russian servicemen; additionally, Ukraine has developed and launched an around-the-clock hotline for the “I Want to Live” project from the Coordination Headquarters on Handling Prisoners. It is important to note that all those who voluntarily surrendered to captivity under the “I Want to Live” program are treated as prisoners of war taken during the battle, which should contribute to protecting soldiers from possible criminal prosecution after returning to Russia.

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