Kremlin attempts to calm Russian fury over chaotic mobilisation

Andrew Roth

It took Alina three goes at the local conscription centre to get her husband out of Russia’s war in Ukraine. She knew the local officials managing the mobilisation in her town south of Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, she said. So when her husband, who has health problems because of his weight and served in the army more than 15 years ago, was called up, she began hassling them to review his case.

“I told them: ‘What war?’ Have they gone crazy? And the top [official] just gave me this sad look,” she said. But as protests broke out last week in Dagestan and anger grew over the conscription, she said, something changed. Suddenly, they told her that her husband’s call-up was a mistake.

“They told me we were lucky,” she said, “but couldn’t help us if there’s another round [of mobilisation].”

Russia’s first draft since the second world war has caused unparalleled chaos and anger across the country. Hundreds of thousands of men have left their homes: some taken to fight in Ukraine, still more heading for the borders to dodge the draft. A popular gag now shows internet memes with the men airbrushed out. “Meanwhile in Moscow,” goes the joke…