Staunton, Nov. 14 – After remaining relatively constant between 2016 and 2020, the number of Russians charged with draft evasion jumped 66 percent last year; and this year is set to surpass last year’s total of 934 cases, Bumaga reports. But legal experts say this increase reflects less a rise in resistance than a decision by officials to stop ignoring the problem.
Maksim Beryoza, who heads a law firm that represents men accused of draft resistance, tells the news portal that the number of such cases has jumped because “the siloviki have ceased to close their eyes to it” and are insisting on enforcing a law that earlier officials had not done consistently (paperpaper.ru/v-rossii-stali-chashe-sudit-uklonistov/).
(Of course, although the lawyer does not address this possibility, the siloviki may have done so out of fears that there would be more draft resistance in the future if the war in Ukraine continues and a larger number of those threatened with military service would seek to avoid it. If so, then this action is a prophylactic rather than a response.).
So far, the portal reports, Russian courts have handed out fines to those convicted, even though the law allows them to impose penalties of up to two years in prison. The recent partial mobilization order is unlikely to affect the numbers as the law used against evaders is limited to those who are called for the draft.
During the period of “the partial mobilization,” September 21 to October 28, only man was charged with draft evasion; but the case was soon dropped when prosecutors pointed out that the law on draft evasion does not apply to those mobilized.