On 27 September, six days after Russia began “partial mobilisation”, I received a message from my father in St Petersburg: “Putin’s parasites remembered you”. With the message was a photo of draft papers from an enlistment office signed by a military commissar. The papers ordered me to appear at the office within two hours. It was a surprise. It had not crossed my mind that I might be asked to risk my life in this pointless and shameful war. I have never served in the army – clearly there’s nothing “partial” about the mobilisation – and, having moved to the UK several years ago, have grown accustomed to my role as a faraway observer of events in Russia.
The first talk of mobilisation started soon after the war began, with the topic resurfacing every time Russia suffered military setbacks. I was confident that if compulsory conscription was introduced, the Putin regime would cross its Rubicon by violating the despot’s social contract: “If you are not interested in politics, we are not interested in you.” This, I thought, could finally turn the general public against the regime. The mobilisation has brought panic and fear, as many are being dragged into a war that they could previously ignore. Only time will tell whether this gives rise to a popular revolt; so far there are very few signs of that happening.
Thankfully, my father is too old to be conscripted. Most of my friends left Russia in March and have not returned, though I’m not aware of anyone else in my circle receiving a call-up. Technically speaking, my summons is not legally binding as it has to be handed over in person and signed by me. However, if I were to enter Russia, I have no doubt that I would be forcibly conscripted. Right now, the prospect of seeing my homeland again soon looks very slim.
Konstantin Andzhanovskii is a UK-based sound engineer and computer-science student.