After she was arrested at a Moscow protest, this Russian Reuters journalist got a draft notice. It was addressed to a masculine version of her name.
Reuters journalist Maria Vladimirovna Tsvetkova was arrested during Moscow’s July 27 protest for fair elections even though she had a press pass to cover the event. A few days later, Tsvetkova received a draft notice made out to a certain Mariy Vladimirovich Tsvetkov — that is, made out to a nonexistent male version of herself. The journalist told Meduza that she discovered draft offices had sent the notices out en masse to anyone arrested at the July 27 protest who was not already in the military’s records. Military service is legally mandated for young Russian men.
I was arrested on July 27 at 13 Tverskaya Street shortly before the protest started. They arrested me like they would arrest anybody: They just grabbed me and took me to the police van, but before that, they checked my ID, my press pass, and my accreditation. I had even been accredited for that specific protest by the Moscow police department. Nevertheless, I was arrested and held for four hours at the Khoroshyovo police station. The officers there wrote me up for participating in an unsanctioned protest, and I took the protocol with me to submit a complaint later on.
I got the draft notice through an official line of communication. I don’t really want to say exactly which official gave it to me and where that official works because this official said more than they had to. The official told me that every government agency had gotten an order to crack down on the protesters who were arrested from all possible fronts: through bailiffs, taxes, military records — so that if somebody has debts, you remind them about the debts, and if somebody’s evading the draft, you remind them about that, too.
I called the draft office, and they asked me the same question they ask everyone: Am I obligated to serve in the Russian military? They also asked where I went to university and whether I had a medical education. I didn’t study at a military university, and I don’t have a medical education. Judging by the situation overall, I think the person who wrote the draft notice knew that. Why else would they call me Mariy Vladimirovich?
According to the official I mentioned, the draft notice says “Mario,” but I personally made out the dative case of “Mariy.” The draft office told me I didn’t have to visit them in person. The notice was signed by the military commissar for the Kuntsevsky District.
I was told that they sent draft notices to everyone who wasn’t already in the military’s registry — which means, as far as I can tell, that draft offices were sent the full list of arrestees, and they sent a notice to every one of them who wasn’t registered.
I see all this as a total absurdity, but it seems important to me that the people who write these notices also have a sense of the idiocy inherent in what’s going on.
Translation by Hilah Kohen