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Russia says it will exempt some workers from the call-up

Sep 24, 2022

A day after Russia began drafting civilians to bolster its forces in Ukraine, the Kremlin faced widespread objections to the extent of the call-up and found itself slightly narrowing the action’s reach.

Source - The New York Times


Russian men with certain white-collar jobs in banking, I.T. and telecommunications will not be called up to join the war effort, the Russian Ministry of Defense said Friday, after companies complained that the draft announced by President Vladimir V. Putin could badly affect their ability to operate.

The statement appeared aimed at addressing widespread concern in the business community about the call-up.

Earlier Friday, a report published in Kommersant, a Russian economics-focused newspaper, said Russian businesses, including airlines, tech companies and agricultural firms, were concerned about how the call-up could affect them. Three companies estimated that 50 percent to 80 percent of their employees could potentially be mobilized to serve in the war effort, the paper reported. Many major companies in vulnerable sectors were preparing lists of essential workers in advance of requesting their exemption from the draft, the newspaper said.

Representatives for the companies said that the “departure of even a few people will seriously complicate or even paralyze,” their work, Kommersant reported. It noted that some airlines were already under tremendous staffing pressure because of the outflow of I.T. specialists in early spring, part of the mass emigration that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, and now fear a shortage while they transition to a system of draft exemptions.

The Russian Association of Software Developers also sought an exemption for the workers it represents, according to reports in Forbes Russia.

Responding to concerns raised by I.T. firms, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that “citizens with higher education” from specific sectors in telecommunications, information technology, banking and “systematically important” media companies would be exempt from the draft announced by Mr. Putin on Wednesday.

However, the statement did not specifically mention employees of airlines and airports, which would be among the worst affected, according to Kommersant.

The head of Russia’s union of air traffic controllers wrote a letter on Wednesday to the Russian prime minister, Mikhail V. Mishustin, to warn that conscription would “jeopardize the normal functioning of the entire aviation system, including security and the regularity of flights of civil and state aviation, including aviation of the Air Force of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.”

Many of Russia’s pilots and doctors are technically capable of being called up if deemed necessary, raising fears of losing members of highly-trained professionals in the work force. Dmitry Khubezov, head of the Russian parliament’s committee on health protection, said that those with combat experience would be prioritized and that an estimated 3,000 medical workers would be called up, in remarks reported by the Russian news agency Tass.

On Wednesday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, told the Russian people that only “those who served in the army, primarily those who have combat experience and a military specialty,” would join the ranks of the expected 300,000 men pressed into service.

However, it quickly became clear, including from the Defense Ministry itself, that many men who did not meet these criteria — including those who lacked even the basic military service that is mandatory for men without an exemption — were being called up.

Author - Serhii Kolomiets, 24/09/2022

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