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Ukraine war: Russia announces conscription exemptions

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Russia has announced a host of occupations that will be exempted from conscription aimed at boosting its war effort in Ukraine.

Russia’s defence ministry said IT workers, bankers and journalists working for state media will escape the “partial mobilisation” announced by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The defence ministry added that employers must compile a list of workers who meet the criteria and submit it to its offices.

It accepted some sectors had to be excluded to “ensure the work of specific high-tech industries, as well as Russia’s financial system”.

Some commentators have observed that the text of the mobilisation decree has been left vague – potentially allowing it to be widened if necessary.

And one paragraph remains entirely classified. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday this referred to the total number of Russians that could be conscripted, which he said could not be disclosed.

Evasions

Around 300,000 citizens face being called up as part of the drive.

The move has prompted a rush toward borders as Russian men are continuing to try to flee the country to avoid being called up by recruiters for the country’s first military mobilisation since World War Two.

In the south, miles-long queues of traffic have formed at the border crossing between Russia and Georgia.

Some of those heading into the neighbouring country have used bicycles to bypass lines of cars and evade a ban on crossing on foot, with others reporting waits of up to 12 hours.

Georgia is one of the few neighbouring countries where Russians can enter without needing to apply for a visa.

Border guards in neighbouring Finland, which shares a 1,300km (800 miles) border with Russia but requires an entry visa, said queues had grown at various crossing points.

Other destinations reachable by air – such as Istanbul, Belgrade or Dubai – have seen ticket prices skyrocket immediately after the military call-up was announced, with some destinations sold out completely.

Turkish media have reported a large spike in one-way ticket sales while remaining flights to non-visa destinations can cost thousands of euros.

Draft dodgers

Several countries are grappling with the prospect of an influx of Russian draft dodgers.

Germany’s interior minister signalled on Thursday that Russians fleeing conscription would be welcome in her country.

Nancy Fraser said deserters threatened by “severe repression” would receive protection on a case-by-case basis, following security checks.

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But several other European countries, including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, struck a different tone, saying they would not offer to flee Russian refuge.

The countries have long pushed the EU to take a harder line on Russia.

“I understand that Russians are fleeing from ever more desperate decisions by Putin,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipovsky said.

“But those running because they don’t want to fulfil a duty imposed by their own government, they don’t meet the criteria for a humanitarian visa.”

Protests

The call-up sparked protests in major Russian cities including Moscow and St Petersburg on Tuesday, resulting in a reported 1,300 arrests.

There were also reports from Russia that some of those detained for protesting had been handed draft papers while in custody at police stations.

When asked about the reports, Mr Peskov said that doing so was not against the law.

 

Zainab Sa’id

Source BBC
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