Complaints about chaotic mobilization are growing in Russia

LONDON (Reuters) – The editor-in-chief of Russia’s state-run news channel, RT, is fiercely loyal to the Kremlin, expressing anger on Saturday that recruiting officers are sending summons papers to unsuitable men as frustration grows with the military mobilization across Russia.

Wednesday’s announcement of Russia’s first general mobilization since World War II, to bolster its faltering invasion of Ukraine, sent qualified men rushing to the border, the arrest of more than 1,000 protesters, and uneasiness among the population at large.

Now, it, too, is attracting criticism of the authorities from among the Kremlin’s official supporters, something almost unheard of in Russia since the invasion began seven months ago.

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“It has been announced that individuals can be recruited up to the age of 35. Recalls will go to 40,” RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Telegram channel.

“They infuriate the people, as if on purpose, as to defiance. As if they were sent by Kyiv.”

In another rare public sign of turmoil at the summit, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that the four-star deputy minister in charge of logistics, General Dmitry Bulgakov, had been replaced “to move to another position.” No further details were provided.

Russia officially counts millions of former conscripts as reservists – potentially almost the entire male population of combat age – and Wednesday’s decree declaring “partial mobilization” gave no criteria for who would be called up.

Officials said 300,000 troops are needed, with priority given to people with recent military experience and vital skills. The Kremlin has denied reports published by two Russian news agencies based abroad – Novaya Gazeta Europe and Medusa – that the real target is more than a million.

All over Russia, reports emerged of men with no military experience or of previous enlistment age suddenly receiving summons papers.

On Saturday, the head of the Kremlin’s Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeev, publicly announced that he had written to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu asking for an “urgent solution” to the mobilization problems.

His 400-word Telegram post criticized the way the waivers were implemented and listed several cases of improper recruitment including nurses and midwives without military experience.

He said, “Some (recruits) are handing summons papers at two in the morning, as if they think we are all dodgers.”

cannon fodder

On Friday, two days after enlistment began, the Defense Department listed some sectors in which employers can nominate employees for exemptions.

There was a special outcry among ethnic minorities in remote and economically disadvantaged regions of Siberia, where the disproportionately long professional Russian armed forces had enlisted.

Since Wednesday, people have prepared to queue for hours to cross into Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Finland or Georgia, fearing Russia will close its borders, although the Kremlin said reports of mass migration were exaggerated.

The governor of Russia’s Buryatia region, which borders Mongolia and is home to a Mongolian ethnic minority, admitted on Friday that some had received papers by mistake, and said those who did not serve in the army or who had medical exemptions would not be. summoned.

On Saturday, Tsakhya Elbegdorj, president of Mongolia until 2017 and president of the World Federation of Mongols, promised draft deserters a warm welcome, and Putin openly called for an end to the war.

Wearing a yellow and blue Ukrainian ribbon, he said in a video message, referring to Russia’s three Mongolian ethnic groups.

“Today you are fleeing from brutality, cruelty, and potential death. Tomorrow you will begin to liberate your country from dictatorship.”

The accelerated mobilization and organization of so-called referendums on joining Russia in occupied Ukrainian territory came this weekend, in the wake of a misguided Ukrainian offensive in the Kharkiv region – Moscow’s biggest reversal of the seven-month-old war.

The anti-war group Vesna called on social media for new demonstrations across Russia on Saturday night, after more than 1,300 protesters were arrested in 38 towns on Wednesday, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info.

The Interior Ministry in Russia’s North Ossetia region advised people not to try to leave the country for Georgia at the Verkny Lars border post, where it said 2,300 vehicles were waiting to cross.

(This story corrects the news outlet’s name in paragraph 8 to “Novaya Gazeta” and not “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”)

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(Reuters report) Editing by Peter Graf

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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