MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is ready to submit draft electronic military papers for the first time in its history in a bid to make it harder for men to avoid conscription after the lower house of parliament gave its support for the move.
The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, gave its support for the necessary legislation in two separate votes. Some lawmakers have complained that changes are being rushed through without giving them enough time to scrutinize the changes.
The move is part of Moscow’s attempt to perfect a system it has used to bolster its military forces in Ukraine, though government officials say there are currently no plans to force more men to fight in Ukraine.
Russia says it mobilized just over 300,000 men last year to help it prosecute what it calls its “special military operation”, but is now focusing on trying to recruit professional volunteer soldiers through an advertising campaign.
“We need to improve and modernize the military recall system,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a news briefing on Tuesday, in which he also referred to the “problems” it encountered last year with the mobilization campaign.
The initial decision to introduce mobilization for the first time since World War II prompted tens of thousands of military-age men to flee abroad, while some protests broke out – and were quickly suppressed – in several Russian cities.
No second filling
Peskov dismissed suggestions that the digitization plans might spark another wave of panic and emigration among young Russians eager to avoid having to fight in Ukraine.
“(This plan) is not linked to mobilization,” he said, repeating earlier assurances that there were no plans for a second wave of mobilization.
Under the current system, men targeted by military recruiters are given paper call-outs at their registered address.
Recruiters sometimes struggled to turn in paperwork and see if they had the correct address for subscribers.
Under the new proposals, summonses will be sent electronically to the potential recruit’s personal account on the main government portal. It will be deemed delivered once it has been delivered electronically.
Once the electronic summons is received, under the legislation, citizens who do not show up at the military enlistment office will be automatically banned from traveling abroad.
“The summons is considered received from the moment it is placed in the personal account of a person responsible for military service,” Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, said in televised remarks.
The Kremlin vowed last year to fix “mistakes” in its initial mobilization campaign that saw men ineligible for conscription because of age or medical conditions called up to fight in Ukraine.
(Covering) By Andrew Osborne and Philip Lebedev Additional reporting by Caleb Davis Editing by Angus McSwan
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