- Drafting *
- BBC News World
“The best option is to go to prison. Even looking at the rich history of torture in Russia, the chance of being impaled by a bottle is less than with a bullet in the head. I will do anything, but I will not go to the front lines.”
So told the BBC in Moscow a man who prefers to keep his identity safe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday announcing a partial mobilization: some 300,000 reservists will be called up to reinforce Russian troops at the front after suffering several setbacks against Ukraine.
In a rare national address, the Russian leader said this was for guarantee territorial integrity and protect people in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. It is the first time in the history of modern Russia that something similar has been done.
“Like in a science fiction movie from the 80s,” admits Dmitry, 28, to the BBC. “It’s creepy, to be honest.”
After the announcement of partial mobilization, says the young man, the office chats began to boil, nobody could work. Dmitry took a break from the office after lunch and bought some money on Ligovsky Lane.
Thousands of people have come out to protest and there are more than 1,000 people arrested.
Also there is fear and worry about to know who will be called up.
This is not the case with Dmitry: he changed his apartment in the spring, when the police came to him for his participation in unauthorized actions. Now he is considering whether or not to leave the country: “Although the situation seems grim, I have a feeling of defeat for President Putin. He has no Ukraine and plans to flood the front with Russian corpses,” he says.
There are those who do not see it that way and, faced with the mere idea of going to the front, with the uncertainty of who they will recruitconsiders more extreme options.
“I’m ready to break my leg”
Putin clarified that “first of all, those who have served in the Armed Forces, have certain military specialties and relevant experience“They will be subject to conscription for military service. But it was not clear who they would be.
The Kremlin said that some parts of the mobilization decree were not published by deliberate decision, reports Reuters.
According to the law of the country, anyone who is registered as reservist is subject to compulsory military service. You can leave the service when you reach the age limit, by a judicial prison sentence that cannot be reversed either East Pending for the commission of a serious crime or for health reasons.
Therefore, according to Vyacheslav, from Moscow, most of his friends who have passed through the army have already started looking for “acquaintances who have to do with the medical field, to get out somehow.”
“Going to a psychiatrist or a narcologist seems like the best, cheapest, even free option. Most people think it’s dangerous to pay for such an outing. Obviously there’s going to be a lot of deception.”
“If you get drugged and arrested while driving, hopefully your license will be taken away and you will have to undergo treatment. You can’t be sure, but hopefully this will be enough to prevent you from being taken away. [al ejército]”, says Vyacheslav.
Others do not hesitate physically attack themselves so as not to go to war.
“I’m ready for break a leg, an arm, sit in a pretrial detention center and not enter this lot in any way,” reflects another BBC source from Kaliningrad.
Due to the characteristics of the war with Ukraine, it can be assumed with great certainty that first they will resort to persons who have served in ground combat unitssuch as snipers, mortars, drivers or sappers.
Also included are “mobilization manpower reserves,” military reserves who in peacetime participate in military training but, in the event of martial law, are included in the military unit to which they are assigned. His mobilization will predictably be the first to occur.
In the law nothing is specified about the sex of the citizen to be mobilized. What prevails is the specialty that you have in the military registry.
There are specialties that are expected to be the most sought after, between themcomputer engineering, medicine, cartography, specialty in optical and sound measuring instruments, meteorology or polygraphy.
Regarding the age of the reservists, there are categories according to the rank they have, from soldiers to generals. It is expected that the youngest will be called first and, if they do not have enough people, the age will be increased.
Sergei (not his real name), 26, is one of those specialists who has already received a summons from the draft board. “It was delivered with acknowledgment of receipt“, say his parents.
The document, of which the BBC was able to see a copy, says that this specialist in hydrodynamics must present himself on September 22 at the military registration and enlistment office in the department of planning, allocation, preparation and accounting of mobilization resources.
As a student, Sergei studied at the military department in the training program to become a reserve air defense and missile defense officer.
“He has zero experience”says his father. “We don’t know what to do. Before there weren’t many repercussions for not showing up, now, due to the reforms to the Penal Code, it has become completely incomprehensible.”
Just this week the Duma toughened the penalties for desertion and unauthorized abandonment.
A few hours after speaking to reporters on Wednesday night, he himself, an employee of a state-owned oil production company, received a message from the personnel department: “I ask you to provide urgent information on employees eligible for a postponement of the mobilization call for tomorrow at 9:00”.
It was not an isolated incident. Throughout the day, the BBC wrote from different parts of Russia: In many jobs, scans of military ballots and other data began to be requested, all in reference to the military registration and enlistment offices.. Some organizations were even required to prepare lists of employees to pass “military training.”
The BBC has at least three such letters (sent to organizations in Bashkiria and the Moscow region). They are all dated September 20that is, they were sent the day before Putin announced a partial mobilization.
One of the letters that the BBC even lists the military registration specialty codes that are most required. This information is normally classified as state secrets, which is why the BBC does not include them.
This is what the letter, which was sent by the military enlistment office in the city of Oktyabrsky, says: “From the moment of receipt of this letter, citizens who are in the reserve should not be sent on business trips and vacations”.
Many men awaiting the summons realized that they might soon face a choice: prison or war. “Yesterday I talked about this possible situation in therapy. The best option is anger imprisonment for refusal to move“, decided one of the interlocutors of the BBC in Moscow.
Escape at priceless prices
According to the law, from the moment a mobilization is announced, those who are registered in the army have forbidden to leave your place of residence without permission from the military police stations.
“That is, the restriction applies to all persons who are registered in the armed forces, regardless of whether they are subject to compulsory military service for mobilization or not. It is not known how this restriction will work in practice. and whether foreign travel will be restricted. I have already seen public statements by officials that there will be no restrictions, but the law clearly defines that traveling without special permission is prohibited,” lawyer Alexander Peredruk told the BBC.
Although in this case we are not talking about a general mobilization, but partial, and the current laws do not stipulate such a concept, it is quite possible that the Russian authorities will quickly eliminate this legal loophole.
For example, may impose a ban on travel abroad or outside the region either district for certain categories of citizensas happened during the coronavirus pandemic.
After Putin’s announcement, the prices of tickets doubled and the closest direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Yerevan and Baku without a visa are over. And the ones available have increased in price, with the cheapest ones available for no less than 62,000 rubles (about $1,000).
“The state is one of panic and anxiety. In my small town they have already sent summonses, but I am not registered here. I will hide in the basement, if ever,” says Mikhail, 25, from the Trans-Urals area.
Others, far from hiding, have taken to the streets to demonstrate.
The first actions took place in Khabarovsk and Ulan-Ude, followed by residents of Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Participants were herded almost immediately into vans as banners reading “Our husbands and fathers don’t want to kill other people’s husbands and fathers” and “No to war” were crushed along the way.
At nightfall ofhe Wednesday, there were almost 1,500 detainees. They were taken to the police departments and there a military commissar was waiting for some of them: opponents of the war they received summonses on the spot requiring them to report to military registration and enlistment offices the next morningand.
*With reporting from Olesya Gerasimenko and Elizaveta Focht.
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