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Russia may criminalize draft sabotage — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

Senators have discussed ways to counter foreign attempts to undermine the country’s military strength

Russia may toughen laws against actions undermining the capability of its armed forces, including the government’s ability to enroll reservists. Members of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament discussed possible criminalization of draft sabotage at a roundtable last Friday.

Russian lawmakers need to counter the machinations of foreign intelligence services, according to Olga Kovitidy, who represents Crimea in the Federation Council and chaired the event.

Hostile powers “are using propaganda, agitation and agents on the ground in attempts to destabilize the situation in the country, undermine the government’s authority,” she claimed.

One of the measures proposed during the public portion of the event was to make avoiding conscription during wartime a more serious crime than it normally is in Russia. The current criminal code suggests fining people who fail to report for duty after being summoned by the Defense Ministry, or jailing them for up to two years in the worst cases.

Igor Butrim, a legal expert who floated the idea to Russian senators, also proposed criminal liability for those who advocate and facilitate draft evasion. Some legislators have supported the idea.

“I believe that serving in the army is an honor and a duty for a citizen and a patriot. And if someone is scared to deliver – well, everything has a price,” lawmaker Margarita Pavlova, who sits at the upper chamber’s Defense and Security Committee, told Russian media.

Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to boost the army’s strength amid the military operation against Ukraine. The measure triggered an exodus of Russians concerned about being sent to the front.

Some senior officials branded the emigres as backstabbers, who abandoned their motherland when they were needed. But the president has opposed calls to punish such people, arguing that Russians are free to travel as they see fit, as long as they abide by the law.

The public appears to agree with Putin. An opinion poll published last month showed that while the majority of Russians disapproved of people who fled, they did not perceive their decision as a betrayal.

Another idea proposed at the roundtable was to raise the responsibility level of soldiers who volunteered for units fighting in Ukraine to the same level as regular service members. That would only be fair, considering that the Russian parliament recently equalized social protections of the two groups, senator Dmitry Vorona argued.

Ukraine increasingly conscripting older men – media

Other proposals included tougher punishments for defense producers, who fail to deliver on their contracts during wartime, for agitators pushing troops to defect, and for officials who fail to provide benefits owed to soldiers.

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