Moscow residents of draft age have reported cases of police raids at their houses, with police officers demanding that they undergo a medical examination at local enlistment offices.
Nikolai, a second-year student of the Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy (we were asked to change the student’s name in the article and publish the story anonymously for security reasons – editor’s note), told Novaya Gazeta. Europe that police started knocking on the door of his dorm room on the morning of 2 June asking to “check his ID.”
“I refused to open the door, but the police officers found ways to pressure me with the help of university officials who also came to my door. I refused to open the door for them as well, but then they called my parents, put psychological pressure on them, and then my parents pressured me to open the door, so I did,” he said.
The student says that the administration of the university forced him to write an explanatory note, and then Nikolai was visited by a local police officer.
“I wasn’t quite sure what he was doing. I asked him about my legal status, first he told me that I was detained, then he told me I wasn’t. But I think his goal was to make other police officers come to my room and force me to come with them to the police station,” the student added.
The police officer did not present the student with any documents from the conscription office to justify the police raid, Nikolai noted. The student called a human rights lawyer who gave him a legal consultation as the situation was unfolding, and the policeman left his room shortly after that.
Nikolai still had to visit a conscription office, where it was explained to him why the police came to his house. “Because I didn’t come to the office at the hour stipulated in the conscription notice, as I was ill. The notice was given to me personally earlier by dorm administrators, I had to sign a document saying I received it. <…> I was told that if students arrived on time, police wouldn’t have to visit our houses,” he said.
Another Moscow resident of draft age, Fedor Khudokormov, a reporter with Real View, told Novaya Gazeta. Europe that at 7:00 am on 1 June, a police officer called him saying that he needs to come to the police station as soon as possible.
“He started threatening me, he told me: ‘Serious people will deal with you if you don’t come.’ I asked him what was the reason. He only told me the reason when I came. He told me that the conscription office is looking for me, that he needs to ‘bring me’ there. I told him I don’t have any documents on me right now, I don’t have anything.
He said that they are just following orders, and he has to get me there.
I couldn’t say no and run, or I’d be charged under Article 19.3 of the administrative code (Disobeying a police officer),” Khudokormov said.
The reporter said that he was escorted to a conscription office without a draft notice.
“They started telling me that I’m a draft evader, that I’m going to be fined, that they’ll open a criminal case and then I'd think twice before doing something like that,” he said.
After that, he underwent a medical examination. He did not have a passport on him nor the medical documents confirming that he has asthma.
“They essentially pulled me off the street and started an unlawful procedure. But I demanded that they refer me to a doctor’s office, as I needed to prove that I have asthma. And they did. That was the end of it,” he said, adding that he was handed a notice with the date on which he needs to return to the conscription office.
Yelena Popova, coordinator of the Movement of Conscientious Objectors to Military Service in Russia, told Novaya Gazeta. Europe that forced conscription is not a new phenomenon in Russia. “Not everyone faced with forced conscription thinks of calling human rights advocates. Usually, people don’t know where to call and what to do.
So, to my mind, these first signals mean that forced conscription is well underway,” she said.