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Russian anti-corruption campaigner disappears following police searches, reappears as army draftee on Arctic island

Source: Meduza
Ruslan Shaveddinov’s Facebook page

Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) employee Ruslan Shaveddinov has been forcibly drafted into Russia’s military. Leonid Volkov, the chief of staff for FBK founder Alexey Navalny, first reported Shaveddinov’s disappearance. Navalny himself soon posted a video on Twitter that showed law-enforcement officers putting the activist into a minibus. Navalny said at first that Shaveddinov was being taken to “somewhere in Arkhangelsk,” a region in Russia’s extreme northwest. Military service is mandatory for young men in Russia, but avoiding service through education or other means is common.

Shaveddinov’s apartment had been searched the night before he disappeared. Following the search, according to FBK attorney Vyacheslav Gimadi, police officers said the young man had been taken to be interrogated by Russia’s Investigative Committee. However, the Investigative Committee headquarters said they had not received an FBK employee for questioning. The FBK’s attorneys found that Shaveddinov had been taken to Moscow’s draft office in the evening and transported from there to an unknown location. His telephone was turned off, and the FBK was unable to contact him for more than 16 hours. The organization reported Shaveddinov as a missing person.

Shaveddinov resurfaced on the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya. The FBK reported that the young man finally made contact on December 24 and told them his location. He has been stationed in military unit 23662. Attorneys are not being allowed to enter the base where Shaveddinov is located because part of the base is classified as closed military territory. Sergey Krivenko, a human rights advocate who focuses on civilian-military relations in Russia, told Meduza that the young man’s forced entry into the army was illegal despite the completion of his appeals process. Krivenko also said new recruits are typically sent to training camps, not straight to military bases, let alone on remote Arctic islands. Despite the fact that this case appears to be an illegal “special order,” in Krivenko’s words, illegal recruitment does not provide any legal grounds for releasing an individual from the military, and Shaveddinov will likely be forced to continue serving.

Shaveddinov has been trying to appeal his draft orders for two months. Russian law dictates that while such an appeal is under consideration, the appellant cannot be sent to begin military service. Shaveddinov submitted his appeal in court in late October; his request was dismissed in November. Moscow’s legal databases indicate that the FBK employee submitted an appeal request for that initial decision on December 17. In a hearing that took place December 23, the same day that Shaveddinov’s apartment was searched, the young man’s second appeal was rejected as well.

Text by Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Hilah Kohen