A loyal ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to send the relatives of anti-war protesters to the front lines in Ukraine — amid reports that college students were being pulled from classrooms to serve and older reservists with severe disabilities were being called up.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov warned that there could be consequences for protesters, including several dozen women in Grozny, Chechnya, who took to the streets over Putin’s ordered mobilization of 300,000 reservists.
“Some people write that it is necessary to go out against partial mobilization. Under these conditions, no one should discuss the decision (of Putin) but must comply, so I urge everyone not to engage in nonsense,” Kadyrov said in a video on Telegram, Newsweek reported Friday.
“And those who will go out (to protest), they are enemies of the people,” he continued.
Kadyrov said three of the women have sons fighting in Ukraine, and he suggested that their other male family members should “also be on the territory where Russia is conducting the special operation.”
The women — all of whom were detained, according to local reports — accounted for just a few of the around 1,300 protesters arrested in dozens of cities throughout Russia since the partial conscription announcement on Wednesday.
Kremlin officials have said that only reservists with relevant combat and service experience will be called to arms, and that the partial mobilization would not apply to full-time students.
However, there are reports circulating in Russian media claiming that students were being removed from classrooms at Buryat State University in Ulan-Ude, capital of the poor Siberian republic of Buryatia.
An unnamed student at the school told the local news outlet The Village that 10 to 15 national guardsmen and military police officers showed up on campus on Thursday to “take students directly from classes,” as the independent outlet Mediazona reported.
The outlet published a video, which could not be independently verified, that allegedly shows officers arriving at the university to round up young men.
In Buryatia, a mostly rural region wrapped around the southern shore of Lake Baikal, the mobilization has seen some men drafted regardless of their age, military record or medical history, according to interviews with local residents, rights activists and even statements by local officials.
Buryat rights activists suspect that the burden of the mobilization — and the war itself — is falling on poor, ethnic minority regions to avoid triggering widespread anger in the capital, Moscow.
Such was the outcry over the mobilization in Buryatia, although, that Governor Alexei Tsydanov on Friday issued a statement clarifying that those who had not served in the army or who had medical exemptions would not be mobilized, although he admitted that some draft notices had been given to such men.
If mistakes were made, he said, people should “simply inform the representatives of the military enlistment office at the collection point, with supporting documents.”
“There’s nothing partial about the mobilization in Buryatia,” said Alexandra Garmazhapova, president of the Free Buryatia Foundation, an organization that provides legal help to those mobilized. “They are taking everyone.”
Her foundation collected hundreds of appeals for help from residents whose relatives had received mobilization papers. Many of them were over 40, and had medical conditions that should disqualify them from service, she said.
Between 4,000 and 5,000 residents of the region were drafted in the first night of conscription, Garmazhapova estimated. She said that in many cases, officials had distributed summons during the night.
Aryuna, a 19-year-old student in Ulan-Ude who requested that her surname be withheld, showed Reuters a photograph of draft papers delivered on Thursday to her father, a 45-year-old journalist who had never served in the army on account of his short-sightedness.
Similar cases have been reported elsewhere in Russia since the announcement of the partial draft.
Aleksandr Ermolaev, a 63-year-old lieutenant colonel in the reserves who suffers from diabetes and cerebral ischemia — a brain injury resulting from impaired blood flow to the brain — told the Russian news outlet V1.ru that he received his draft papers in the Volgograd region on Wednesday night and was ordered to report to a collection center for draftees seven hours later.
According to Ermolaev, who had served in the military for 35 years before retiring, during a medical examination, doctors found him fit for combat after concluding that his ailments would not impede his ability to fight.
“I told them that I have aged out, that even on TV they said that people over 55 will not be drafted,” Ermolaev said. “Threatening me with criminal charges, they forced me to receive a uniform and set out for the Prudboy training ground, where I am currently located, contrary to all the pronouncements by the minister of defense.
“Now I am waiting to be shipped off to I don’t know where.”
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, senior officers up to the age of 55 and those suffering from brain injuries and diabetes are exempt from service.
News of the draft sent Russian men of military age fleeing into neighboring countries, including Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Finland and Georgia, where videos showed backed-up traffic at border crossings.
Flights out of Russia were sold out for the next several days, despite one-way airline tickets starting at $5,000 each.
With Post wires