See the interview on YouTube (in Russian) EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (CSF): Who is bothered by the work of your organisation?
Ella Polyakova: First of all, we bother those people who spread army enrollment corruption, these companies and their backing. Secondly, we bother those who are in favour of military action anywhere in the world. We interfere with them as well because we believe that any conflict should be resolved in a diplomatic way, by means of negotiations. And we bother those who don’t wish any development of civil society in this country, those who want to turn this country into an outcast. Perhaps, we bother them. I call them "hawks" or "war parties". It is a group made up of people who have different interests.
How would you explain the fact that your organisation was labelled a "foreign agent"?
I believe it is due to the fact that we tell the truth about what is happening in the army, during the call-out. Probably, that is the reason. The finishing touch is, perhaps, the fact that we have expressed our position on Crimea:  We believe it is unacceptable to resolve conflicts with non-diplomatic, uncivilised methods. Perhaps, this was the reason. Then again, it might also have been due to the fact that in our society, only a very few people express criticism of war, and in this sense our organisation was identified.
Do you feel support from your colleagues from the various Soldiers’ Mothers Committees of Russia?
I call this the social disease "Crimea is ours". It just revealed who is who in the movement, who deals with the problems of people, recruits, and military contractors. Most organisations are just sick with this disease, they support aggression. I don’t understand how they help people or indeed whether they really help them at all. However, some organisations have expressed their support for us. Of course, we were supported by the Human Rights Council of St. Petersburg and Amnesty International as well as some other organisations in Russia.
Why is membership in the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum important to you?
Membership in this platform is important to us because we believe that human rights have no borders, and because we want to see the overall situation. Furthermore, if human rights are violated in two neighbouring countries, the problem should be discussed by all parties so that these conflicts can be resolved in a civilised manner.
What topics are now the most relevant ones for discussion within the Forum?
Some very important topics for discussion are the violation of recruits‘ rights, the development of the alternative civilian service institution, conflict resolution within the army, the civilisation of army structures in general, resolution of international conflicts in a civilised way – there are a lot of problems. And, of course, the consequences of conflicts, as long as deaths and unrepaired injury lead to new wars. How to stop wars from starting is also a good topic for discussion.
Have you read the Statement of the Forum’s Steering Committee?
It is very important that Forum’s organisations have expressed their solidarity with us. This means that people understand how important it is to stop the war together. It is a great responsibility, and also, perhaps, a big risk. But it is important.
What would you like to wish to the members of the Forum?
I wish them success in our common peace-making mission.

Interview prepared on 16 September, 2014 by Alexander Peredruk, Press Secretary of the “Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg”