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Russian Officer Shot At Draft Centre As Kremlin Admits ‘Errors’

Over 200,000 people mobilised to Russian army in two weeks: defence minister
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A man opened fire at a military conscription office in Siberia on Monday, the latest incident to strain Russia’s recruitment drive for its struggling offensive in Ukraine.

The shooting took place in the town of Ust-Ilimsk in Irkutsk, a vast and sparsely-populated region of southeastern Siberia.

It was the most recent escalation in a series of unprecedented protests and attacks on recruitment offices that are drawing a cloud over the Kremlin’s efforts to reverse military setbacks in east Ukraine.

Investigators said the suspect was a 25-year-old local and a woman who identified herself as his mother said he was “very upset” after his friend — who had no prior military experience — received call-up orders.

“They said that there would be partial mobilisation, but it turns out that they are taking everyone,” the woman, Marina Zinina, was cited as saying by local media.

Regional governor Igor Kobzev said a recruitment officer had been wounded and that “doctors are fighting for his life”.

“I’m ashamed that this is happening at a time when, on the contrary, we should be united. We must not fight with each but against real threats,” Kobzev said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial” mobilisation last week after Moscow’s army faced a bruising counter-offensive that saw them pushed back from much of Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region.

The announcement sparked panic and demonstrations, with more than 2,000 anti-mobilisation protesters detained across the country.

Critics have accused the Kremlin of focusing conscription efforts in remote regions like Siberia or the North Caucasus populated by ethnic minorities to avoid sparking dissent in urban centres, especially Moscow.

Authorities in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan arrested more than 100 people at anti-mobilisation protests, a police-monitoring NGO said.

Footage on social media showed violent confrontations between protesters and police in the poor and Muslim-majority republic, which has seen more men killed in Ukraine than any other part of Russia, according to a tally of death notices compiled by Russian media.

“Why are you taking our children?” one woman could be heard shouting in protest videos shown by Russian media.

The OVD-Info police monitoring group said 24 people had been arrested at similar protests on Sunday in Yakutsk, the capital of the vast eastern Siberian region of Yakutia.

Since Putin’s announcement last week there have been several attacks on recruitment centres in Russian regions.

Authorities said assailants had tried to set fire to an office in the southern city of Volgograd in the early hours of Monday.

The Kremlin on Monday admitted that authorities in several Russian regions had not carried out mobilisation orders in line with Putin’s decree, but said the situation was improving.

“Instances of non-compliance (with the decree) are decreasing. We hope this will speed up and that all errors will be corrected,” it said.

Thousands of men eligible to serve — or fearful they could be caught up in the recruitment effort — have booked up flights abroad and flooded Russia’s land borders to avoid being sent to Ukraine.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian senator Sergei Tsekov proposed closing the borders for men between 18 and 55 years old.

Answering questions from reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that despite rumours Russia would seal its external borders and introduce martial law in some border regions, no decision had been taken.

“I don’t know anything about this. No decisions have been made for now,” he said.

Analysts have said the mobilisation was spurring protests against the Kremlin in regions usually loyal to Moscow’s political ambitions and could dent Putin’s popularity.

The mobilisation was showing signs of causing further economic strain, compounding Western sanctions on Moscow for sending troops into Ukraine.

The Moscow stock exchange plunged 10 percent on Monday to its lowest point since Russia began its Ukraine offensive seven months ago.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.




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