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14 Apr, 2023 22:27

Putin signs new conscription law

Russia will start serving summons electronically, using a digital database of eligible citizens
Putin signs new conscription law

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law amended conscription and mobilization rules, establishing a unified digital database of citizens subject to military service. The measure was fast-tracked through the legislature in Moscow in less than a week.

The Ministry of Digital Development was tasked with establishing the registry, which will be operated by the Ministry of Defense. The government will draw on its existing databases to populate the registry, including tax, election, medical, police and court records, and those drawn from employers and universities.

The register will help track the summons sent out to eligible conscripts not just by mail but now also electronically, using the “appropriate” platforms, such as the state services portal ‘Gosuslugi’. The summons will be considered served within seven days of being posted to the registry. From the moment the summons is issued, the recipient will not be allowed to leave Russia.

The new law also introduces penalties for failing to report. Those who do not respond to the summons within 20 days, without a valid exemption, will not be allowed to register a business, vehicle or real estate, or to obtain bank loans. Various regions and republics may also limit or discontinue the payment of benefits and other government support. Such decisions may be appealed in court, however.

The amendments were introduced by the State Duma’s defense committee on April 10, and the lower chamber voted to pass them the following day. The Russian Senate approved them on April 12. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the fast-track procedure as being driven by national security priorities.

Russian law prescribes one year of mandatory military service for male citizens between the ages of 18 and 27. Two rounds of conscription are conducted each year, with the size of the call-up specified by a presidential decree. However, lawmakers recently introduced a separate amendment to move the age bracket up over several years, reaching 21 to 30 in 2026. The proposed change is meant to protect those in their late teens and early 20s from disruptions to their education.

Moscow has not declared a general mobilization due to the Ukraine conflict, preferring to conduct operations with professional troops and a cadre of some 300,000 reservists, called up in October 2022.

Last year’s call-up exposed some structural problems with the conscription infrastructure inherited from the Soviet Union, including loopholes and poorly maintained registries that resulted in summons being issued to citizens without prior military experience, or otherwise ineligible.