Russia has said it is exempting some bankers, IT workers and journalists from being drafted into the army to serve in Ukraine under President Vladimir Putin’s announced “partial mobilization” as the men fled en masse across the border to avoid compulsory military service.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that Russia would seek to call up an additional 300,000 troops to bolster its army in Ukraine.
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Friday that some employees working in critically important industries would be excluded from the draft in a bid to “guarantee the work of specific high-tech industries, as well as Russia’s financial system.”
The exceptions apply to some IT workers, telecommunications workers, finance professionals, as well as some employees of “systemically important” mass media outlets and interdependent vendors, including proprietary media and broadcasters.
Russia classifies major employers and parent companies in certain industries as “systemically important” if they meet certain thresholds in terms of number of employees, revenue or annual tax payments.
The classification allows companies to obtain special benefits from the Kremlin, such as government-backed loans, bailouts and state investments, seen most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Media previously classified as such include a large number of state television channels, radio stations, news agencies and newspapers, as well as some of Russia’s few private media outlets.
The Defense Ministry said company bosses should draw up lists of their employees who meet the criteria and can be excluded from the draft.
Russia’s central bank welcomed the move to exclude some financial professionals from the call, saying some of its staff met the relevant criteria.
“Employees who are dedicated to critical areas will remain in their posts so that the financial system can continue to function smoothly, people can receive their salaries, pensions and social benefits on time, card and transfer payments work and can be issued. new credits,” he said. the central bank said in a statement.
Putin’s mobilization order followed weeks of speculation about how Russia would respond to a conflict now entering its eighth month in which Kyiv and the West say Russia has suffered tens of thousands of casualties.
A Russian independent monitoring group, OVD-Info, reported that men detained at statewide anti-war demonstrations that followed the announcement of the mobilization were given preliminary documents while in custody at at least 15 police departments. from Moscow.
The day before the Kremlin’s announcement, the Russian parliament passed a bill to toughen punishment for those who refuse military convocation or desert.
The bill, which has not yet become law, will impose prison sentences of five to 15 years.
Traffic into Finland through its border with Russia remained heavy on Friday.
Nearly 7,000 people crossed from Russia into Finland on Thursday, some 6,000 of them Russians, an increase of 107 percent compared to the same day a week earlier, according to border guards who spoke to the Reuters news agency. .
At Vaalimaa, the busiest crossing point, cars lined up for up to 400 meters, a longer queue than on Thursday, a border official said.
Helsinki announced on Friday that it would “significantly restrict the entry of Russian citizens” in the “coming days” after seeing inflows double on its eastern border.
“Those who cross the border only for tourist reasons will not be able to enter,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters.
This applies both to Russians traveling on tourist visas issued by Finland and tourist visas issued by any other Schengen country, Haavisto said.
As a justification, Finland cites “serious damage to its international position”, in contrast to the Baltic countries that have classified tourism from Russia as a security threat.
Latvia has also suggested that it will not provide asylum or refuge to people fleeing Russia.
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