‘The new system is human-centric and practical’ Meduza learned how Russian authorities were preparing ‘dodgers’ amendments (and what the propaganda will say about the bill)

Thoroughly! There is a swear word in this text (describing the bill).

Russian State Duma in a hurry accepted a large package of amendments, which, in fact, create in Russia a new conscription system for military service. This bill (in a different version) has been in Parliament since 2018; four years later, on the eve of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, his accepted second reading, then postponed for a year. Finally, at the end of March 2023, the deputies decided to come back document for second reading – and on April 11, a few hours before the vote, published on the website of the State Duma there is a huge package of amendments to the document, which made it much more radical.

The bill passed unanimously (one MP abstained, but then said he “made a mistake with the button”). Among other things, the authorities are going send summons through the “Gosuslugi” and create a unique database of persons liable for military service. Those who don’t want to fight will be banned from leaving Russia; inside the country, the “deviators” will lose their rights. Members took 23 minutes for the second and third readings. For comparison: discussion Invoice tightening the rules for selling vapes took twice as long.

Summary of military reform: diaries are electronic, borders are closed. Who will this affect? (Spoiler: everyone) What if you still don’t go to the military registration and enlistment office? (Spoiler: it’s complicated)

According to the edited text file metadata, the document was created on Saturday, April 8 and was last edited on the morning of April 11. One of the deputies of the State Duma, in a conversation with Meduza, pointed out that ordinary parliamentarians (who in one person later supported the document) were only aware of the contents of the draft law only on the day of the vote. “Like snow on your head. You don’t even know what to say to people. People are going to ask,” he said.

Communist Party faction members tried postpone the adoption of the amendments, citing a violation of the regulations of the State Duma, according to which the text of the bill must be published three days before the vote. In response, Andrey Kartapolov, chairman of the defense committee (which is considered the author of the bill), said that the review should not be postponed, because “the law is extremely relevant”. Speaking at the meeting, he lamented that the bill did “not have a very simple fate”, and added that amendments were needed, as “the experience of the mobilization measures of the year latest revealed serious problems in the field of military registration” (then hundreds of thousands of Russians LEFT out of the country, not wanting to go to war).

Two Meduza sources close to the Kremlin say members of the Presidential Administration (PA) political bloc were not involved in the drafting of the bill and were not notified of the nature of the amendments. Meduza’s interlocutors are convinced that the changes were initiated by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Interlocutors close to the Kremlin added that as a result, the authorities and propagandists did not have time to “prepare public opinion” for the new rules applicable to persons subject to military service. According to Meduza’s interlocutors, pro-government media did not receive “recommendations” for covering the bill until the afternoon of April 11. These “recommendations” are also referred to by sources close to the Kremlin and the government as the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

This document is available to Meduza. It is written in extremely official language. The authors note that the innovations are due to “Russia rapidly correcting shortcomings in the military registration system identified in 2022”.

“The new system is human-oriented, convenient, minimizes direct contact with military registration and enlistment offices and the possibility of errors,” say the propagandists’ theses. For example, the introduction of electronic notices is necessary because “people do not always live where they are registered”, and the loss of rights of “fraudsters” is explained by the fact that “the responsibility to evade notification ensures justice and equal rights”. citizens.”

Those who deliberately evade military service, do not fulfill their constitutional duty, must clearly understand that they will be held accountable. Otherwise, the lack of responsibility is perceived as a signal of the possibility of repetition of illegal acts and causes social tensions.

A person who has fled the service cannot be in more privileged conditions than a person who fulfills his constitutional duty and his civic duty.

A State Duma deputy, who spoke to Meduza on condition of anonymity, doubts that propaganda can soften the shock of the new norms. According to him, the new conscription system “will certainly not add to the popularity of power” – and not only in the event of mobilization: “A lot of people hide from the army after they graduate – they don’t live in registering in another city or in another district of their city. They do not take orders. They were not particularly wanted – it was such a tacit agreement between the state and society. Now it will be different.”

Sources close to the Kremlin agree that the bill could “negatively affect” the government’s memo: “Any suspicion of mobilization, sending to the front, and immediately growth anxiety, and yet she just succeeded reduce“. An interlocutor close to the leadership of United Russia, arguing about the possible impact of the amendments on the ratings, called the bill “screwed up” (but refused to reveal this thesis in more detail).

A source close to the Kremlin notes that the political bloc of the presidential administration hoped that before the presidential elections in the spring of 2024, the situation in the country would not worsen drastically and that “everything would be more or less calm”. “[У высшего руководства страны] it was understood that people need not worry. But he’s been bothered before [поправками]’, he explains.

Two Meduza sources close to the Kremlin and an interlocutor close to the United Russia leadership admit that the reasons for the rushed passage of the bill are still unclear and say they have not heard of the authorities’ plans to carry out a new wave of mobilization (officially, the mobilization in Russia continues now). “Governors were tasked with recruiting ‘volunteers’, offering money and every possible way to lure men into contracts. No one has removed this task,” said a Meduza source close to the presidential administration.

At the same time, as already writing Meduza, Russian army manpower plan for 2023 implicit a sharp increase in its population. How reported According to the Bloomberg agency at the end of March, the Russian Ministry of Defense estimated that the rapid increase in personnel necessary for the continuation of the war against Ukraine could be obtained by recruiting 400,000 “volunteers” for a contract.

A few “volunteers” will obviously be found among the conscripts, but even if the authorities compel most of the conscripts to surrender to the contract, this will not be enough to bring the troops to the required number. In other words, without mobilization, the authorities simply do not have enough personnel for the war.

Meduza’s interlocutors close to the Kremlin suggested that the adoption of the new conscription system was due to rumors on the next large-scale counter-offensive of Ukrainian troops. One of the sources suggested, “In response, something has to be countered. For example, that we can put millions under arms if necessary. And it will be relatively easy to do.

The Russian Defense Ministry, Andrei Kartapolov, head of the State Duma defense committee, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of parliament, and Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to the Russian president, did not respond to Meduza’s questions.

Should I leave Russia now? (If I have at least a theoretical possibility – and I don’t want to fight) The shortest “Medusa” answer: yes

Should I leave Russia now? (If I have at least a theoretical possibility – and I don’t want to fight) The shortest “Medusa” answer: yes

Andrei Pertsev

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