(Reuters) – Russian lawyers say they are overwhelmed by requests for help from Russians trying to evade President Vladimir Putin’s call to action to fight in Ukraine.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to countries such as Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland. But many more remain in Russia, hiding from military recruiters, hoping to be exempted from military service.
“We work 24 hours a day,” said Sergei Krivenko, the head of “Citizen Army Law,” a human rights group made up of a dozen lawyers.
“People are being ripped out of their normal lives,” he adds. “This is mobilization with no time limit in times of war. It can last for months or years. People may not return. It is practically impossible to leave the army. The only solution is death, injury or imprisonment for disobeying orders.”
“Those who come to see us are panicked. They don’t understand what is happening,” adds Sergei Krivenko. “They recruit anyone. And the law gives them permission to recruit anyone.”
The implementation of the mobilization was chaotic, although the recruitment was originally intended for those with military experience. Vladimir Putin himself admitted his mistakes and demanded that they be corrected.
Practical sheets explaining how to avoid mobilization are circulating in numbers on social networks. Often they are accompanied by forms to be filled out to request a medical exemption or conscientious objector status.
(Reuters report, French version Lina Golovnya, Editing by Kate Entringer)