October 24, 2023

Mosque Raid Leads to Star's Enlistment


Mosque Raid Leads to Star's Enlistment
Mamut Useinov singing. Valeriya Lanskaya, Youtube.

Mamut Useinov, a finalist for the musical talent show Perepoy Zvezdu! (Outsing a Star!) was attending a prayer service in a mosque near Moscow. As the singer and fellow worshipers left the building, riot police from Russia's National Guard, OMON, forced them onto a bus without explanation and then impressed them to fight in Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Useinov's smooth tenor voice outshone his fellow contestants on Channel One Russia's reality show, landing him a spot in the finale. The 26-year-old hails from Crimea and received a Russian passport following Moscow's invasion of the peninsula in 2014.

Useniov and others were attending a Friday prayer service at the Kotelniki Mosque near Moscow. OMON raided the building as worshipers exited, under the pretext of checking documents, and detaining male attendees. The police instead forced them onto a bus and took them to an enlistment office in Lyubertsy, where they were compelled to undergo a medical examination. It is unknown how many men were taken from the mosque.

Useniov was declared fit for military service and ordered to sign a contract or face prison. However, the singer is unfit to serve in the army due to an undisclosed illness. As well, Useniov is under contract with the state-owned Channel One Russia, which deemed him eligible for a postponement of a draft due to his stardom.

Despite this, on October 21, he learned he would be sent to the Northern Military District.

According to British intelligence, the Russian government is avoiding mass mobilization, which has become unpopular among the public. In response, officials have been recruiting Central Asian immigrants, promising them expedited Russian citizenship and high salaries in exchange for going to fight in Ukraine.

According to Movilizatsya Novosti, the Kolelniki mosque was targeted by OMON because of its many Central Asian parishioners. Similar raids have reportedly taken place in markets and vegetable warehouses across Russia.

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