Staunton, April 1 – Today, Moscow begins its third pandemic-era draft in which the authorities plan to induct 134,000 men between 18 and 27. Valentina Melnikova, head of the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee, says she fears that the authorities will conduct raids and violate the rights of potential draftees to ensure they meet the government’s target.
Her concerns, she says, reflect the experiences of last year’s drafts when the police raided the homes of potential draftees and dragged them to the military commissions and when the military commissions ignored health problems that should have led to deferments in order to meet their quotas (echo.msk.ru/news/2814046-echo.html).
According to Melnikova, such raids and practices are likely to occur later this month, and so she urges men in the draft-age cohort to get their medical papers in order and show up early when they will have an easier time convincing the commissions that they should be deferred. If they wait, they may be impressed into service without regard to their health.
And while the men have the right to appeal decisions of the military commissions to the court system, they may not be able to get a decision in their favor in a timely fashion and thus may be drafted anyway.
One place where draft resistance is already in evidence and where the authorities are using the courts against those who refuse to serve is occupied Crimea. According to the Crimean Human Rights Group, the authorities opened 12 new cases for draft resistance and handed down seven convictions for such violations in the last month alone (crimeahrg.org/ru/protiv-krymchan-za-otkaz-sluzhit-v-armii-rf-vozbuzhdeno-uzhe-bolee-200-h-ugolovnyh-del/).
According to the group, the Russian occupation has initiated 201 cases about draft resistance since 2014. It says that 186 have already led to convictions and sentences. Fifteen still are awaiting trial.