Yakutia man forced to return to war says daughter will be taken into care

Dinara and Sergey Yegorov. Screenshot:  Free Yakutia Foundation

Dinara and Sergey Yegorov. Screenshot: Free Yakutia Foundation

A single father from Yakutia in the Russian Far East has described how his daughter is to be taken into care when he is forcibly returned to fight in Ukraine in a video message published by the Free Yakutia Foundation, a regional anti-war movement, on Wednesday.

Sergey Yegorov was first mobilised and sent to fight in Ukraine in October 2022, but was given permission to return home on leave when his wife became seriously ill a year later. When his wife died the following month, Yegorov remained in Russia to look after his daughter Darina. However, now that she has turned 16, Yegorov must return to his unit.

Soldiers drafted under Vladimir Putin’s “partial” mobilisation decree in September 2022 are required to serve in the army indefinitely, unlike mercenaries and convicts recruited to fight from prison.

The Yegorovs tried to fight their case in court, but Darina said the authorities appeared to be dragging proceedings out for as long as possible. “How can I go and leave my only daughter behind?” Yegorov asked in the video.

Even so, the Yegorovs were unlikely to win their legal fight in the Russian court system, as judges have taken an increasingly hard line against servicemen since mobilisation began, an investigation by Russian independent news outlet Mediazona published on Tuesday found.

Analysing court data, Mediazona determined that Russian courts had heard 9,059 cases of soldiers going absent without leave, 627 cases of soldiers refusing to obey orders and 339 cases of soldiers deserting.

Mediazona said that prior to sentences for military crimes being increased, the Russian military almost never pursued such prosecutions against its servicemen.

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