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Vladimir Putin closes loophole that allowed Russian men to avoid military service

Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing the authorities to send electronic notifications of mobilisation to draftees or reservists.

Previously, the Russian military service regulations required that those called to duty be notified in person.

The new law will allow local conscription offices to continue sending notices by mail, but these notices would only be valid once they were posted on the state portal for electronic service.

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Many Russians have avoided the draft in the past by avoiding their registered address.

The new law closes this loophole, in an apparent attempt to allow the Kremlin quickly beef up the military in advance of a highly anticipated Ukrainian Counteroffensive expected in the next few weeks.

Receivers who do not show up to service will be banned from leaving Russia. Their driver’s licences will be suspended and they won’t be able to sell their apartments or other assets.

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The official government register has published the bill that Mr Putin signed into law.

Kremlin opponents and human rights activists have denounced this legislation as an attempt to create a “digital jail camp” which gives unheard of powers to military conscription offices.

Image: A smartphone screen shows an open page on the Gosuslugi website. Pic: AP

The widow of the former St Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak was the sole member of the house who spoke against this measure on Wednesday when the Federation Council (upper house of parliament) considered the bill.

Ms Narusova’s late husband, who was the mentor of the President, said that the bill violated the constitution and other laws and objected strongly to its rapid approval.

The rapid enactment fueled fears that the government would launch another wave of mobilization after the one ordered by Putin in the fall.

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Russian authorities have denied that another mobilization is planned. Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, said that this measure was necessary to streamline the outdated system of call-ups in light of the flaws revealed by the partial mobilisation last fall.

He said that there was a mess in the military conscription office. The bill aims to fix this mess, and make the system more modern, efficient and convenient for citizens.

In September, Putin announced the call-up 300,000. This was after a Ukrainian counteroffensive forced Russian forces to retreat from large areas of the east.

It was estimated that the Russian men who fled in response to the mobilisation order numbered in hundreds of thousands.


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