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'Almost an exact copy of Stalin's amendments' How politicians, journalists, and analysts reacted to Russia's new 'mobilization' laws

Source: Meduza
Vadim Akhmetov / URA.RU / TASS

On September 20, the Russian State Duma unanimously passed a set of amendments to the Criminal Code that introduced the concepts of “mobilization,” “martial law,” and “wartime.” New articles about “voluntary surrender” (punishable by up to 10 years in prison) and “looting” (punishable by up to 15 years in prison) were also added, while the penalty for unauthorized abandonment of a unit during mobilization or martial law was raised to 10 years. Despite the Russian authorities’ repeated denials that there will be a general mobilization, Russian officials, lawmakers, and propagandists have increasingly begun calling for one — and the new legislation makes the prospect seem likelier than ever. Meduza has compiled a brief list of some of the initial reactions from Russian politicians, political scientists, and journalists to the new amendments.

Olga Kovitidi

Federation Council Senator, co-author of the new amendments

Insofar as this law is concerned, mobilization has not been declared in the country.

Ivan Pavlov

Human rights lawyer

The downsides [if Putin declares war] are obvious. There’s only one upside: soon, you’ll be able to call the war a war without having to worry about administrative or criminal charges.

Viktor Sobolev

State Duma deputy from the Communist Party of Russia, voted for the new amendments

These questions were long overdue. [...] A hybrid war is being waged against Russia — on the diplomatic, political, economic, sanctions, and cultural level. The collective West declared a hybrid war against us. We’re fighting this war. With mixed success. But right now, we’re in peacetime.

Dmytro Kuleba

Ukrainian Foreign Minister

Neither fake ‘referendums’ nor hybrid ‘mobilization’ will change anything. Russia was and is an aggressor state that’s illegally occupying part of Ukraine’s territory. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will continue liberating them, no matter what Russia says.”

Andriy Yermak

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's Chief of Staff

Naive blackmail through threats and horror stories about “referendums” and “mobilization” of people only capable of fighting against children and civilians… That’s what the fear of defeat looks like. The enemy is afraid. [...] Ukraine will solve the Russian question. The threat can only be eliminated by force.

Ekaterina Shulman

Political scientist

There’s one problem [with the authorities’ plan]: The administrative side of adding new territory takes time, mobilizing and integrating mobilized troops takes time, and they’re assuming the opposing side is going to stop and wait — evidently, out of respect for the Russian legislative process.

Lev Shlosberg

Opposition politician

It cannot be ignored that the amendments passed [today] copy Stalin’s Criminal Code almost verbatim — including the amendments passed during the Great Patriotic War, which made surrendering a direct path to the Gulag.

Alexander Dugin

Philosopher, vocal support of the idea of a “Russian world” that extends beyond Russia’s borders

A very important and, evidently, difficult decision has been made. All of our intolerable, outrageous losses won’t be in vain. The government and the people are on the same side of the barricade. And on the other side is our ultimate enemy.

It’s important, even in the fiercest battle against a brutal enemy, not to lose one’s soul. After all, we’re fighting on the side of God and Heaven.

Tatyana Stanovaya

Political scientist

[In Putin’s mind,] events will unfold like this: (1) Immediate annexation; (2) the fighting intensifies, which the Kremlin will regard as an attack on Russian territory; (3) mobilization; (4) [the Kremlin] threatens to use nuclear weapons if Ukraine doesn’t retreat.

Dmitry Kolezev

Editor-in-chief of the outlet Republic

I think it’s more likely that Putin is just threatening mobilization and “total war” than it is that he’ll actually declare it. We can’t rule anything out at this point, of course, but it looks that option will be the Kremlin's last resort. And even if they do it, that doesn’t guarantee that it will help win the war.

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