by Marco Imarisio
Families in fear: the draftees could reach a million. Flight abroad is increasing. And Germany opens its doors to deserters
‘How are we? Do you know the Moscow sun?’ The reply from Dmitry Oreshkin, a political scientist who was popular until he dared to criticize the Kremlin’s strategy towards Ukraine in 2014, requires explanation.
Just twelve days ago. The capital celebrated its festival, while in Kharkiv the Russian troops fled, abandoning their positions and retreating so quickly that they could not pass in silence. Vladimir Putin instead chose to proudly inaugurate the new local attraction, a large 140-meter-tall Ferris wheel that would spoke to illuminate the VDNKH, a theme park built in 1935 to showcase the great achievements of the Soviet Union. today an area that is recovering. «A unique work that is unparalleled in Europe and in the world». A few hours later, the Moscow sun froze due to an outage. It was closed for four days, then reopened for two, and finally closed again for maintenance.
“People have been told that we are strong and that we must be proud of ourselves,” explains the professor, who was the owner of a very popular column on Radio Echo’s website until its closure. “Suddenly, instead, we discover that nothing is working and that Vladimir Putin’s words of the last six months were a bluff. Including his last speech, because a partial mobilization is like a partial pregnancy: it doesn’t exist. People will understand soon. And he will start not to believe him anymore. The real danger for the Kremlin is not protest, but collective distrust».
Still, nothing seems to have changed. Starting with the name. Yesterday Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman and voice of the President, answered a specific question from a British Telegraph journalist that even now it is not possible to speak of war, it is still a military special operation. And as usual, according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Ukraine will become “a totalitarian Nazi state”. Carry on like this, following a given script, and in the meantime half of Russia and the whole world is wondering what this mobilization will ever be.
Citing sources from the Kremlin administration, the European edition of Novaya Gazeta revealed that the entire text on the gun call had to be classified first, following the will of the Defense Ministry. But then it was decided to apply the omission only to the seventh of the ten articles that make up the provision, which establishes the number of people to be sent to the front. According to the newspaper founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, it would have to be 300,000, but it will reach a million civilian recruits. A version that Peskov dismissed as a “total lie.”
However, the clear part of the decree supports the thesis of a very partial mobilization. The only exceptions are employees in the war sector, those who are unfit for health reasons, people with dependent disabled family members, fathers with at least four dependent children under the age of sixteen. But yesterday some corrections came from the Department of Defense. Full-time students will also stay at home, a footnote severely drying up a potential pool of protest, and rumors that the new conscripts would lose their jobs have been denied. Instead, the decision to deliver the draft order to the more than a thousand protesters arrested during Wednesday’s impromptu march was confirmed. The democratic youth movement Vesna speaks of retribution and intimidation. Peskov argues that this is a legal measure, as usual.
Abbas Gallyamov, one of Putin’s first speechwriters, is convinced that the countdown has now begun. For the majority of the public, mobilization is still an abstract concept. They will begin to understand when their loved ones received the call and when some of them will return to their homeland in coffins. The soldiers killed so far have not aroused any emotions because they were professional soldiers. But the future deaths of those mobilized will be experienced as a terrible injustice. People who were torn from normal life by the state and sent to the slaughterhouse. The consequences will show up later. And they will be devastating for the Kremlin».
Perhaps these are the reasons why Putin has so far been reluctant to involve civilians and even ruled out any form of mobilization. He did so in his second address to the nation on March 8, when it was becoming clear that the Special Military Operation was not going to be a cakewalk. “I understand your fear for your loved ones, but I assure you they will not be called.”
The remote provinces
The first news to arrive from the most distant provinces relates to summonses to persons over fifty years of age, a personal detail which, if confirmed, would expand the conscript audience to well over three hundred thousand units. Oreshkin says mass sabotage will begin soon. «It is now clear that the Moscow sun is not working. And people just want to get off the wheel, as we’re already seeing.”
Uncertainty breeds fear and queues at the borders. Almost five thousand people have sought refuge in Finland. Daily arrivals from Russia to Armenia have tripled.
Germany said it was ready to welcome all deserters. In just two days, three military recruitment centers have been attacked with Molotov cocktails. Vesna has called for demonstrations in the most important cities on Saturday. You’ll end up with the usual manhunt. But this time, they might as well be a start.
September 23, 2022 (Change September 23, 2022 | 08:17)
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