Russian Anti-Corruption Activist Kidnapped, Forcibly Drafted into Army: Navalny

An employee of Russia’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has been forcibly drafted into Russia’s military after being taken from his home by government agents, FBK’s founder Alexei Navalny has said, according to VOA News in Russian.

According to Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov, Ruslan Shaveddinov, a project manager for FBK, disappeared on Tuesday. Navalny himself posted a video that showed law-enforcement officers putting the activist into a minibus. The opposition leader 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. 

“Military service has simply been turned into a form of imprisonment. Just another way to incarcerate people. In Ruslan @shaveddinov’s apartment, they broke down the door, kidnapped him, immediately put him on a plane (!!), took him somewhere in Arkhangelsk, and marched him through there with an enormous police convoy,” Navalny wrote on Twitter.

According to FBK attorney Vyacheslav Gimadi, Shaveddinov’s apartment had been searched the night before he disappeared. Following the search, police officers said the young man had been taken to be interrogated by the Investigative Committee, Russia’s equivalent of the FBI. 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 organization was unable to contact him for more than 16 hours. FBK then reported Shaveddinov as a missing person.

On Wednesday, 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. According to Meduza, 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.