The desolate archipelago of the Russian Arctic (far away from the civilization that was the Soviet nuclear test site in the 1960s) was shaped like a barrel with an icon and a photo of President Vladimir Putin on the wall. There is a leaky metal hut.
There are no trees, internet, landline or cell phone connections, no water on the premises, except that the snow and ice are melting. Hungry polar bears are everywhere. Therefore, opposition leaders claim that the Cheracino outpost seems to be the perfect place to revive Mr Putin’s practice of political asylum in Russia.
It is here that Russian troops dispatched one of the country’s most promising opposition politicians, Ruslan Shaveddinov, after a black mask guard broke his door and seized him from his home in December 2019.
“They called it political asylum. They didn’t even try to train me in military technology,” Shaveddinov said in an interview. Washington post After returning to Moscow on December 23, just one year after he was taken.
The challenges faced by Shabedinov, a close ally of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, once again see Russia’s increasingly aggressive tactics to silence and intimidate Putin’s critics. In recent months, authorities have increased harassment and prosecution of activists, dissidents and journalists, frozen bank accounts and repeatedly searched homes.
The excuse to send Mr. Shavedinov to the desolate Novayazemurya region was a forced recruitment of men and an increasingly used means of sending young male political activists to difficult posts in remote areas. However, he claims that military authorities have told him that his treatment is political, and that he has never received a draft notice.
Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 are required to serve for one year, but wealthy Russians and connected Russian sons are usually corrupt and infamous local military recruitment offices. You can bribe and escape.
The Kremlin is due to his work as project manager for Navalny’s “smart voting” tool, which guides voters to elections to candidates who are most likely to defeat Putin’s United Russia rivals. Is a particularly important enemy of. The next big challenge for the opposition is the parliamentary elections scheduled for September.
Navalny said Shavedinov was a victim of a “kidnapping” that appeared to have been personally ordered by Putin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that if Mr. Shavedinov escaped draft evasion, everything was done in accordance with the law.
Shabedinov, 24, grew up in Istra, a poor town west of Moscow. The area was favored by Russian politicians and millionaires to build rural mansions. Inequality resented him.
“Since I was a kid, I realized that things weren’t what they were supposed to be, but were wrong,” he said. He joined Mr. Navalny’s executive six years ago.
His arrest and deportation from Moscow involved multiple security agencies, including the Federal Security Service (FSB), investigative commissions (law enforcement agencies for serious crimes) and the military, Shaveddinov said. .. Such operations are typical of the attention-grabbing arrests of opposition figures, journalists and activists.
His attorney, Vyacheslav Gimadi, said authorities violated the usual legal process for draft evasion. Draft evasion must be sent the first subpoena and then the second subpoena. Those who ignored the second summon faced a court hearing and were usually fined, he said. However, draft evasion is a felony that can result in two years’ imprisonment for those who continue to avoid drafting.
In the case of Shaveddinov, it started around 3:30 pm on December 23, 2019. Access to his cell phone, internet and power were suddenly cut off in his Moscow apartment, exposing him to the darkness of the setting sun. Special police knocked on his door.
A few months ago, he was detained several times, searched, and his bank account was frozen.
“I looked through the hole in the door and saw a lot of people all wearing masks,” he told the story completely. Much of the details were presented in court by his attorney in July.
Sparks flew as a cutting device carved into the two metal doors of the apartment.
Shaveddinov didn’t want to be arrested wearing only shorts. He scrambled for clothes in the dark, hurriedly dressed, and wore strange socks because he couldn’t see them. He said police rushed in, threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and seized computers, phones, televisions, and electrical plugs.
They took him to the airport, boarded him in handcuffs, and flew to Arkhangelsk, far north of Russia. He said the Rear Admiral and other top military personnel met the plane before Mr. Shavedinov was transferred to another flight to the Novayazemuriya archipelago later that night. He set foot in a bitter wind.
“It was so confusing. Things happened so fast. I didn’t have time to be scared. Someone had a camera and they were recording everything so I thought they probably wouldn’t kill me “It was,” said Shaveddinov.
The next day, he was given permission to call Mr. Navalny’s spokesman, his girlfriend Kira Yamato. It was his only phone.
Three months later, Shaveddinov said he flew further away in a secret military installation to what he called “Bottika” or Barrel. There were 3-5 other drafts at a time, and Chopper delivered food monthly and mailed it every two months.
“My job was to clean up the landing zone and keep polar bears away. They were very hungry,” he said. “They slept at my doorstep. In fact, they are very scary creatures.”
The barrel is engraved in his memory. A single window with ancient yellow curtains surrounds the flat field. The other is a heliport and a mountain. The sun never rises for more than a month in winter.
To drink and wash, he cut a block of snow and melted it in a wood stove. In the summer, he walked nearly 2 km (1.2 miles) to the river and carried back two 13-gallon water cans, being careful to avoid polar bears.
“It’s clear why I was sent there. To avoid any communication with family and friends. That’s a lot of psychological pressure. You’re alone with a wild bear and a dog and two others. “He said.
“You read books, stare out the window, and watch life pass by,” he added. “Probably I wouldn’t have done it if I were another person. I would have been desperate.”
He spent a lot of time talking about other drafts and politics, all from the northern region. He heard in a letter that Mr Navalny had been poisoned and in a coma, but did not know that his leader had survived for months.
Russian authorities have dispatched many other opposition members for forced military service in remote and harsh locations. Shavedinoff’s alleged purpose is to alienate Putin’s crackdown and thwart a new generation of political activity trying to curb Internet freedom.
“It’s getting worse year by year, and there’s less freedom,” he said. “There are more political crackdowns and more political prisoners, and opposition parties are unlikely to be active.
“Machines eat and destroy everyone,” he said, referring to Russia’s oppressive safety devices. He believes he was sent to “Bottika” to destroy him-“But I didn’t mean to give them that gift.”
Shaveddinov’s attorney, Gimadi, sued Russian authorities for illegal kidnapping, but “the court dismissed our complaint for no reason,” Gimadi said. He said the Defense Department did not provide a formal response in court.
“It is clear that it is a political asylum because the draft is illegal both in form and content, such as the use of search and destination selection. Very remote to serve only conscripts from the Arkhangelsk area. It’s a unit of the earth, “Gimadi said.
In June, another member of Mr. Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Artyom Ionov, was detained and sent to the military in the far north of Chukchi, despite suffering from asthma except military service. In July, Ivan Konovalov, a spokesman for the Alliance of Doctors, a small independent medical workers’ union, was arrested and sent to Arkhangelsk troops.
Navalny’s former head of Kaliningrad’s headquarters, Egor Cherniuk, at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, faces a Russian criminal accusation of draft evasion. Alexei Schwartz, the head of Mr. Navalny’s Kurgan headquarters, has also been charged with draft evasion.
“This practice is constantly increasing. We are hearing more and more attempts,” said Alexei Tabarov, an activist and founder of the non-governmental conscription school.
“Authoritarianism is growing in Russia,” Tavarov said. “It’s not just authoritarianism. It’s become a dictatorship, and we understand that Putin isn’t going to leave, and he’s going to rule the country as long as he’s alive. Yes and the situation will continue to worsen. “
When he returned, Shaveddinov brought home a bag full of letters from supporters and happy people. The final digital footprint of his journey remains. “Botchka” has been marked on Google Maps by a supporter nicknamed “Shaveddinov’s Gas Station” and is actually collecting 5 star “reviews” which are support messages.
“I have a bear. It’s cold. But the company is great,” wrote one supporter, Mikhail Samin.
“Wait a minute,” another person wrote. “And in the wonderful future of Russia, we will build a monument to all modern political prisoners.”
Military “exile” is a punishment for Russian opposition
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