Ethnic minorities hit hardest by Russian mobilization, activists say

Just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin last week announced partial mobilization for the war in Ukraine, families in the Russian majority-Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia turned 4 eligible for conscription. gathered to decide how to protect human males.

“I thought my uncle would be drafted first, so he decided to go to Kazakhstan … He left the next day,” the youngest son of the family from Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, told The Moscow Times. rice field.

Convinced his family is relatively safe, the man, a local activist who requested anonymity to speak freely, avoids being “cannon fodder” by fleeing a man of military age abroad. But then his father got the draft papers.

The activist wrote on social media on Thursday, “I couldn’t convince my father to leave…I’m going to the draft station tomorrow to say goodbye.”

“He’s 47. He avoided the Chechen war, but he couldn’t avoid it this time.”

Nearly a week after Russia’s mobilization drive, a disproportionate amount of men being drafted are coming from Russia’s ethnic minorities, according to evidence from local activists who told The Moscow Times.

Many of the ethnic republics, including the North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan and the Siberian Republic of Buryatia, which have seen large numbers of men receiving conscription papers, have already suffered heavy losses in the war in Ukraine.

“In Elista, they plan to hold 332 people, which is quite a lot for a city with a population of less than 150,000,” local Kalmykian activist Davr Druzin told the Moscow Times.

In the Siberian Republic of Buryatia, one of Russia’s poorest regions, thousands of men, including recently discharged soldiers and those who initially refused to be sent to Ukraine, appear to have received drafts.

Alexandra Garmazapova, co-founder of the Anti-War Free Buryatia Foundation, which helps conscientious objectors, said, “Every young man we could have saved and brought back home is now in that meat grinder.” You are invited to return to your vessel.

Alexei Tsydenov, Governor-General of Buryatia.
Pavel Volkov / Los Congress Photobank

There are no official figures on the number of men mobilized in each region of Russia, and the Moscow Times was unable to confirm figures provided by activists.

In the oil-rich Muslim-majority republic of Bashkortostan in central Russia, a father of four and a man over 40 received the draft, according to Bashkir opposition activist Ruslan Gabasov.

“I don’t know the exact number of people conscripted, but they send conscription papers to the left, right and center,” he told the Moscow Times.

In Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, the peninsula’s indigenous Crimean Tatars appear to be particularly hard hit.

Journalist and activist Osman Pashaev said in a Facebook post last week that “80% of drafts on mobilization in Crimea were sent to Crimean Tatars (Crimean Tatars make up 20% of the Crimean population”). less than that),” he wrote.

many activists proposed mobilization Recruiting more men from ethnic minorities far from Moscow and St. Petersburg is a way to lessen the draft’s impact on big cities where opposition protests are more likely.

However, many of these areas are generally poor and fertile recruiting grounds for the Russian military, which can provide a stable salary and increase social status, and have more veterans than average. .

“Recent veterans-focused mobilizations will disproportionately affect areas with more military units,” said military analyst Rob Lee. murmured last week.

Perhaps because of the massive impact the draft had on communities, minorities engaged in anti-mobilization protests, with videos emerging of demonstrators blocking roads, clashing with police, and calling for peace. has played an important role in .

Russian military enlistment office.Dmitry Lebedev/Kommersant
Russian military enlistment office.
Dmitry Lebedev/Kommersant

Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and the Arctic Sakha National Republic all held mass protests over the weekend.

Protesters in Yakutsk, the mineral-rich Sakha capital, organized a traditional dance at Saturday’s protests, saw “No war!” they shout. and “no to genocide!” — a reference to the fact that mobilizing men from small minority communities is likely to deplete their populations.

And in Dagestan, protesters in the town of Khasavurt blocked a major highway on Sunday. Police fired into the air in an attempt to stop the rally, according to police. video from the scene.

Ten times more people were detained against mobilization protest Sunday in Makhachkala in Dagestan than in Moscow, according to Protest the watchdog group OVD-Info.

As in most Russian regions, mobilization efforts in the National Republic appear to be particularly intense in poor rural areas, activists said.

In the Caucasus Republic of North Ossetia, “drafts are mostly distributed to villages,” one local activist who requested anonymity told the Moscow Times.

Similar tactics are used in Bashkortostan.

“They are taking ordinary boys from districts and villages,” said one eyewitness in Bashkortostan in a message sent to the Free Buryatia Foundation, which the group later shared online.

Many activists blamed local leaders eager to impress the Kremlin for the speed of mobilization in areas with large ethnic minority communities.

“The excessive enthusiasm of the Buryat emir Alexei Tsydenov plays a key role,” activist Garmazapova told the Moscow Times.

“If Vladimir Putin told him to pole dance, he would do it. And just as easily, he would send young men from Buryatia to war. [political] Goal,” she said. Ethnic minorities hit hardest by Russian mobilization, activists say

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