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Thu
24
Mar

Fearing front-line deployment, some Russians resist conscription

Several young Russians have fled the country, fearing that they would be sent to the front line as conscripts [File: Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP]

As rumours of martial law spread across Russia in early March, some young men abruptly left their homeland, fearing they would be conscripted and sent to the battlefield in Ukraine.
They are among thousands of people who have fled Russia since February 24, as a crackdown grows on anti-war sentiment.

Ivan*, 17, flew to Turkey on Monday from Russia.

“I don’t think it’s normal that in the 21st century, a person can be taken against their will to serve in the army for an entire year. Right now conscripts are being sent to the front line, and I am categorically against the ‘military operation’ carried out by my country,” he told Al Jazeera, ironically using the state-approved terminology for the war.

After initially insisting that only professional soldiers were fighting in Ukraine, Russia’s defence ministry has since admitted conscripts have been deployed, with some captured or killed.

Mon
02
Jul

Patriotic Youth Army Takes Russian Kids Back to the Future

KUBINKA, Russia — Often in Russia these days, what is old is new again or, to be more specific, what is Soviet is new again.

The Youth Army, open to both boys and girls, is a militarized throwback to the Young Pioneers of the Soviet era. Meant to instill a sense of Communist zeal, the Pioneers are mostly remembered for their summer camps.

The Youth Army jettisoned the Communist bits, emerging as a kind of hybrid version of the scouts and a reserve officers training program, with an emphasis on patriotism and national service.

The trademark red endured.

If the Pioneers knotted red scarves around their necks, members of the Youth Army sport red berets bearing a pin of the organization’s logo — the red star of the Russian Army superimposed on an eagle’s head.

Mon
19
Jun

Russia: The Case of the Tenth-Grade Pacifist from Tatarstan

Natalia Vasilieva, The Evening Kazan

They threatened to mess up his permanent record if the tenth grader at a village school in the Arsky region did not take military training classes. The classes are required for boys as part of OBZh — a health and safety course taught in all Russian schools. “I’m a pacifist. I think it’s just not right for me to assemble and disassemble automatic weapons. I don’t want to spend beautiful days in May playing war,” explained 17-year-old Kamil Sh. to newspaper Evening Kazan. Staff at the human rights organization “For Our Sons” note that this is the first case in Tatarstan where a student has openly refused to take part in the OBZh classes out of conviction. Up until now, if young people asked to be excused from the training, it was on grounds of poor health.

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