Authorities Try to Draft Opposition Politician

The authorities in the Central Russian city of Ryazan attempted to draft into the army the leader of the local branch of the Other Russia party, Sergei Yezhov, just three days before he exceeds the maximum enlistment age, Novaya Gazeta opposition daily reported on Tuesday.

Ryazan police and officers from the local military enlistment office arrived at Yezhov’s apartment early on May 22, and demanded he come with them and comply with their orders. Yezhov will turn 27 on May 25, and will then be ineligible for army service under Russian law.

Service in the armed forces is mandatory for all men in Russia from age 18 to 27, but there are many exemptions for university students and many other categories of citizens. Army service is almost universally avoided by anyone in Russia who can afford to get out of it, due to poor conditions of service and widespread hazing.

Yezhov, who is also a journalist with opposition Novaya Gazeta, said he has not received draft papers. He described the move as an illegal attempt to hinder his political activity. This spring, Yezhov started collecting signatures of people demanding the resignation of Ryazan Region’s governor.

Yezhov and two other journalists working for the Ryazan edition of Novaya Gazeta were attacked on May 2 by a group of unidentified people near the the Ryazan regional parliament. The journalists managed to repel the attack, detained two of the assailants and called the police. The police, however, freed the attackers on their way to police station, the paper said.

Yezhov was hospitalized with concussion. Novaya Gazeta demanded an investigation into the actions of the police. However, one of the assailants, Maxim Chernov, filed a complaint with the police on May 4 claiming Yezhov had attacked him.

The journalist was later forced to sign a written pledge not to leave Ryazan, and the police took away his passport, claiming it showed signs of being a fake.

Ryazan’s governor’s office declined to comments on the attempt to draft Yezhov when contacted by Kommersant daily.

Meanwhile Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrohin has filed a claim with the National Prosecutor General’s Office over what he called a “trumped-up criminal case” against Yezhov, Kommersant said on Tuesday.


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