President Vladimir Putin signed a law Friday creating an electronic conscription registry that aims to make draft dodging harder in Russia.
The new system will deliver military call-up papers to a state government portal called GosUslugi. Once the summons appears in the portal, it will be considered delivered.
Previously, draft letters were only considered valid when physically presented and signed for.
The law also allows for any draftee ignoring an online summons to be legally declared a fugitive after a week, banned from leaving Russia and have their assets frozen.
During Russia’s partial mobilization last September, men dodged the draft by leaving their registered addresses, not signing for draft letters and warning their family and coworkers from doing the same for them.
Fears of a new draft: When the Russian parliament approved the law making the country’s conscription program more efficient and harder to evade on Wednesday, it spurred fears that more citizens may soon be mobilized to fight in Ukraine.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, characterized the law as an unremarkable streamlining of Russia’s biannual conscription process.
But CNN spoke to a number of Russians who dismiss the Kremlin’s reassurances, and say the move lays the groundwork for another attempt to force Russians onto the battlefields in Ukraine.
“I don’t believe a word of this,” Alexey, a 41-year-old lawyer from Moscow, told CNN. While he is not within the official age range for mobilization, he does not expect the Kremlin to stick to its own guidelines when calling up recruits. “Now it will be much easier to mobilize me, given how digitalized life in Moscow has become.”
“This may well be an attempt to avoid the full-scale manhunt they employed before, which caused so much panic,” said a 25-year-old Russian named Artem. He dodged the September mobilization despite receiving a call-up.