Russia to digitize military convocations and prevent conscripts from fleeing the country

Russian lawmakers voted on Tuesday in favor of changes to the country’s military contract rules that would make it easier to call up recruits and prevent them from fleeing the country.

The new bill comes amid ongoing speculation that authorities may announce a second campaign aimed at bolstering Russia’s slowdown campaign in Ukraine.

Russia’s “partial” mobilization for war in Ukraine in September 2022 sparked widespread panic among military-age men, with tens of thousands fleeing the country to avoid being sent to the battlefield.

The new bill would require conscripts and other men eligible for military service to report to recruiting offices after not only being briefed physically, but also online, according to his announcement revisions.

Lawmakers in the State Duma, Third Chamber, backed the bill during its final reading on Tuesday.

“We introduce the notifications by mail and offer the possibility of duplicating these summons electronically,” said Andrei Kartapolov, who chairs the Defense Committee of the State Duma, on Monday.

These electronic summonses would be equated with their paper counterparts once the Duma adopts the changes, Kartapolov said.

Those who refuse to report for service would face restrictions, including a ban on leaving Russia.

Tuesday, Kartapolov said the new electronic summons would not only apply to conscripts, but to all other men eligible for military service.

He added that digital summonses would be classified as received once they landed in a recruit’s inbox on Russian online public service portal, Gosuslugi.

Observers say the latest rules would make it harder for eligible Russians to evade compulsory military service as authorities seek to recruit more recruits to send to fight in Ukraine.

The electronic convocation invoice has not appear on the Duma’s website until hours before his expected death on Tuesday, according to freelance journalist Farida Rustamova.

Meanwhile, the Federation Council of Russia’s Upper House has scheduled its single hearing on the bill for Wednesday.

Once the Federation Council votes on the bill – a step usually considered a formality – it will then be passed on to President Vladimir Putin for signing into law.

The Russian military’s online summons follows the recent digitization of military recruiting offices, which Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu vaunted as an improvement over the “red tape and bureaucracy” of physical documents.

In December, Putin agreed to Shoigu’s proposal to increase Russian combat personnel from 1.15 million to 1.5 million.

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