June 26, 2024

Innocent Until Drafted


Innocent Until Drafted
Is the frontline better than prison? The Russian Life Files

On June 22, Kommersant revealed that suspects of crimes are being recruited into the military, in exchange for dropped charges and suspended investigations. The news outlet's investigation revealed that government employees from the FSB to the Federal Customs Service are being ordered to enlist defendants.

While Russia has been drafting convicts into the army and Wagner Group for some time, the conscription of suspects before trial and conviction is a new twist.

Kommersant wrote that healthy male crime suspects between 18 and 65 are being offered a military contract immediately after a case is opened against them. The men are promised that investigations against them will be terminated and that there will be allowances and benefits for their families, if they agree to enlist in Russia's War on Ukraine. Desertion and failure to comply with military orders lead to the reopening of cases and new criminal charges. The only suspects excepted from the recruitment effort are those accused of terrorism, treason, espionage, or pedophilia.

As such, the draft has moved from prisons and penal colonies to pre-trial detention centers. Unlike previous contracts with prisoners and the Wagner Group, which were done en masse, defendants are enlisted individually. By contrast, people under house arrest, bail, or probation are conscripted in the same way as ordinary citizens. 

According to Kommersant, high-ranking officials from the Ministries of the Interior and Emergency Situations, the Federal Customs Service, and the FSB have ordered government employees to send potential recruits to the military enlistment office. Bailiffs and investigators were instructed by their superiors to propose military contracts to all crime suspects who are in good physical condition and of age to join the army.

The recruitment of suspects could potentially contribute to an uptick in crime, as it is well documented that returning criminals who evaded a sentence by joining up have committed felonies upon returning from the front. What's more, the new measure makes innocent defendants vulnerable to police brutality and extortion.

 

 

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