Home World Nikolaj’s choice: “Bribes, broken bones so those who don’t go away try to save themselves”

Nikolaj’s choice: “Bribes, broken bones so those who don’t go away try to save themselves”

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Nikolaj’s choice: “Bribes, broken bones so those who don’t go away try to save themselves”

How do average Russian families experience the “partial mobilization” announced by Putin on 21 September? Not everyone has the opportunity to flee abroad to avoid leverage and therefore resort to the oldest of solutions, the bribe. In the meantime, several Telegram channels help to escape the controls of the authorities in the streets of the center and on the Moscow metro. Whoever falls into the net risks leaving on the spot for Ukraine.

Almost forty-eight hours have passed since Putin’s announcement and a layer of panic has descended on many families, who have children and grandchildren of military age. Only now is the invasion of Ukraine beginning to affect them directly. To find out more about the strategies they intend to adopt to deal with the situation, I got in touch with people I have known for more than thirty years, who live in the city of Samara, a thousand kilometers southeast of Moscow. Grandmother in her eighties, parents in their fifties and two children in their twenties, a boy and a girl. The young woman has just married a peer who works in her father’s grocery store.

Grandmother Vera is desperate (the names are obviously fictional, and some minor details have been altered): “I saw the war as a child and I still can’t believe that it hit my family again. Some of the medicines produced have already been produced for a month. they no longer reach the West. In my case there are Chinese substitutes, but several of my acquaintances are not so lucky and are very worried. ” Has daily life changed a lot since the start of the special operation? “Yes – continues Vera -. Now we realize that some goods are missing, prices have only gone up and I fear that my grandchildren will have to leave for the front”.

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Son Nikolaj lost his job in a company in March and is now engaged in import-export from China. He blames the West for the current situation, but at the same time begins to sense that victory will not be proclaimed any time soon. “The president promised us that the army would solve the problem in Ukraine in a few days, without involving the population, without any general mobilization. Now, however, there is a real risk that our son will be sent to fight in Donbass”. I ask him how he thinks about dealing with the situation. “I’m already activated. I followed the same method my family used to make sure I didn’t have to do military service in the 1980s.” What is the method? “It’s very simple – replies Nikolai -. I immediately called our doctor who is already preparing a certificate to exempt my son. And we have excellent contacts at the Draft Office. Tomorrow I will make sure that our son is not on the list, even if everything. this will cost me dearly. “

The son breaks into the conversation: “You don’t need to do all this! There have already been announcements of doctors and nurses who are able to break your arm or leg to avoid leverage!”. It seems hard to believe and yet it is true. Jurij sends me the image of the advertisement: “I offer to break an arm, without pain, 1,500 rubles per service”. There is therefore a perverse effect of mobilization: an increase in bribes. According to Transparency International, corruption in Russia is very high, at similar levels to those in Liberia, Mali and Mauritania, with a value of 29 points out of 100, the worst figure for a European country. This climate has a crucial effect on a country’s ability to fight a war. In fact, some analysts have documented how military commanders in the field report incorrect information to superiors to obtain ammunition, supplies and funding, making them believe they have more men than they actually have. It therefore becomes impossible to plan an offensive.

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Meanwhile, mobile militia units patrol the streets, shopping malls and metro stations, arresting young people of conscription age and, after a brief interview, issue orders to report to military offices. It is now clear that the mobilization decrees are vague enough to allow the authorities to enlist whoever they want. Ivan Astashin, a former follower of Limonov jailed for ten years and now a human rights activist on probation in Moscow, tells Republic that those who have been convicted of “terrorist” activities (ie opponents of the regime) are also mobilized. “The agents intimidate us, saying that if we don’t show up at the draft offices we will be arrested, thrown in jail and then the only way out will be to join the militias of the Wagner group. It would not surprise me if at this moment a police officer was looking for me. “

Several Telegram channels have been opened in these hours to inform the network about where the policemen are, to avoid them. The Telegram channel “Where do they distribute call cards?” it already has 52,000 subscribers. Every minute reports arrive, accompanied by photos and videos. This is their tenor: “Entrance of the Novogireevo metro, two officers of the national guard, to be avoided!”, “Metro Kurskaya, agents on the wagon, run away !!”. The messages are so many that the administrators wrote: “Thank you for all your reports. We do not have the time to put them all online. But in short: there are units that patrol all the metro and bus stations. Today later lunch have moved to shopping malls. These are the places to avoid at all costs “. Political scientist Grigorij Yudin, who was hospitalized in February after being beaten during the first street demonstrations against the invasion, recalled: “Putin had promised that the military operation in Ukraine would be conducted without interfering in daily life. This pact has been broken and the dictator is no longer credible. This is just another step towards the destruction of the country “.

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