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“They are grabbing everybody to fulfill the plan.” Locals describe mobilization in Buryatia

Immediately after the announcement of the so-called partial mobilization, Buryatia started enrolling people for the war. People of Baikal says men were dragged out of beds at night and taken to the military enlistment office. Classes were canceled at schools in order to set up mobilization offices. Ulan-Ude teachers were forced to stay up all night writing and delivering summonses all over the city. Despite Defense Minister Shoigu's promise not to mobilize university students, reports of students being taken straight from classes began appearing on social media on September 22. The military enlistment office sent a summons to the father of five children. They even decided to mobilize a man who died two years ago. Meanwhile, a kilometer-long line of cars formed at the border with Mongolia - those wishing to avoid being sent to war were eager to leave. The Insider spoke to local residents, and they described how everyone in the region is being called up indiscriminately.

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Yanina Nimaeva, a journalist from Ulan-Ude, recorded a video address to the head of the region, Anatoly Tsydenov. According to her, 4,000 people should be mobilized in Buryatia. The republic's population, according to Rosstat, is 982,629 as of 2022.

“We were given a verbal order to rouse people slated for mobilization from their beds, put them in vehicles and immediately bring them to the military enlistment office. From there, everyone was sent to Ulan-Ude,” an employee of one of Buryatia's regional administrations told People of Baikal.

All the mobilized men were taken to the assembly station of Buryatia's military enlistment office on Shumyatskogo Street. A local woman told The Insider that once they have been processed, they will be taken to Chita for month-long training. They are told they will then be sent to the territories where the Russian “authorities” are organizing the “referendums.”

According to People of Baikal, the training will also take place in the town of Borzya in the Trans-Baikal krai. Siren subscribers reported that people from various districts of Buryatia were being loaded onto planes. A third plane with mobilized people was caught on video in Ulan-Ude.

Another local resident told The Insider that a 58-year-old man, a captain in reserve, was nearly drafted despite being unfit for mobilization either by age or medical conditions. “He said he had both prostatitis and hemorrhoids, showed his medical documents. Two minutes later he came out of the office and said he was still being drafted. After that, he ran somewhere, came running back, showed the medical certificates, and they said to him, “Okay, we won't take you after all.” There's a feeling they take everyone to meet the plan, they take them to town, and then they do a secondary check and send back everyone who is unfit,” the interviewee said.

Another source told The Insider that the mobilization hit small villages particularly hard. “They're combing through the villages. People say a lot of men are being taken away, regardless of the criteria. There are 400 people in our village, and they took 20 men. They planned to take more, but couldn't find any, because it's cedar cone season here and the men have gone into the woods. All the men from 35 to 50 years old are now in the woods, and they don't even know there's a mobilization,” a local resident said.

“None of the media outlets, chats or Viber groups, except for the Free Buryatia Foundation account and a couple of bloggers, report on how many local people were killed in action. People know of two or three men in one village and two or three men in another, but no one has an overall picture. There is no such understanding that our people have already suffered from the deaths of conscripts and contract servicemen. What is happening now? I observe docility. Well, what can we do? It's a machine and it will consume us. If they say it's necessary, then it's necessary,” says another of The Insider's interviewees.

A local resident described to The Insider the situation in one of the mobilization offices:

“Women from the district culture house were working there. The young girls had tears in their eyes, and there was a woman in her fifties who said it was hard, but there was a war going on, and we need our men to defend the country to preserve our state. The other girls just quietly said it was their job and that it had to be done. “You think it's easy for us to send our men to war?” they said, and yet they were doing it. Among the older generation, it's propaganda and blind faith in the right cause, but among the younger generation it's some kind of softness and docility. They just do whatever they're told,” she explained.

With the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Buryatia became one of the leading Russian regions in terms of the number of soldiers killed in action. The death rate among soldiers from Buryatia is over 60 per 100,000 of the region's population. This is almost 10 times higher than Russia's average, and 468 times higher than in Moscow. Mediazona reported on how hundreds of soldiers from Buryatia refused to fight during the first months of the invasion and how they were forced to return to the front.

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