Russia Enacts Lengthy Prison Sentences For Wartime Desertion & Refusal To Serve

 Days after announcing a partial mobilization of national forces amid the ongoing 'special operation' in neighboring Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday enacted significant measures to prevent citizens from fleeing draft notices, as he signed into law stiff penalties for desertion.

Putin specifically introduced "mobilization, martial law and wartime" measures into the Russian Criminal Code for the first time, which also covers long prison terms for "voluntary" surrender.

Russia Enacts Lengthy Prison Sentences For Wartime Desertion & Refusal To Serve
Anti-war protester detained in Novosibirsk on September 21, 2022. AFP via Getty Images

It comes following days of social media videos out of Russia going viral which show young men pack out airports as well as long queues at border posts at places like the Russia-Georgia border.

According to The Moscow Post, some of the penalties include a harsh 15 years in prison:

Under the law, "voluntary" surrender is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But a first-time offender "may be exempted from criminal liability if he took measures for his release, returned to his unit or place of service and did not commit other crimes while in captivity," according to the bill published on the State Duma website. 

Desertion during a period of mobilization or wartime will be punished by up to 10 years in jail, while conscientious objectors will risk up to three years in prison

Penalties are also stipulated for "looting during wartime" - after the opening months of the Ukraine invasion saw criticism from the West over reports of Russian troops rummaging through stores and residences of occupied areas.

Last week Putin's order called up some 300,000 reservists, with some reports speculating that the actual figure could be much higher - as much as one million - according to some sources, though this remains unconfirmed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has meanwhile been encouraging safe passage and protection for Russia soldiers who surrender, according to his words summarized in The Hill

Appealing directly to Russians during an address, Zelensky said Ukraine could guarantee three terms to Russian soldiers in exchange for their surrender. He said such Russians will be treated in a civilized manner, the circumstances of their surrender will remain undisclosed and Ukraine will find a way to ensure those who do not want to return to Russia are not exchanged

Zelensky asserted in making the appeal, "Russian commanders do not care about the lives of Russians. They just need to replenish the empty spaces left by the dead, wounded, those who fled or the Russian soldiers that were captured."

There are fresh reports Sunday saying that Russian President Putin in the coming days will impose a travel ban outside the country for all military age males...

Countries like Finland and the Baltic states have taken measures to essentially lock-down their borders to Russian young men suspected of fleeting military service. The Baltic countries have already enacted a de facto blanket travel ban on Russian nationals, while Finland has thus far taken only temporary measures to restrict the flow of Russian travelers.

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