“Scent of a major war is in the air.” Russia’s State Duma extends conscription and establishes governor‑controlled militias
Никита Сологуб
“Scent of a major war is in the air.” Russia’s State Duma extends conscription and establishes governor‑controlled militias
25 July 2023, 20:07

Photo: Sergei Malgavko / TASS

In the final week before the summer recess, Russian State Duma is passing a variety of laws. Today, they have extended the age at which Russians can be conscripted, increased fines for draft evasion, allowed governors to create armed units to combat any threats, and legalised detention without trial or investigation in occupied territories.

On the morning of July 25, just hours before the plenary session of the State Duma, several draft laws appeared in the parliamentary database. These had been under discussion for some time, but the content of the documents had significantly changed by the third, and final, reading. The first of these was a Ministry of Defence draft law on extending the conscription age.

A little deception

The original idea proposed that the upper limit of the conscription age would be immediately raised from 27 to 30, and then the lower limit would gradually increase: from 18 to 19 in 2024, to 20 in 2025, and to 21 in 2026.

This proposal was supported by Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin last December. “Instead of a greenhorn, who is drafted right after school, a sufficiently mature person will be drafted,” echoed Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the State Duma’s Defence Committee and a former Deputy Minister of Defence.

However, the final version surprisingly removed the change to the lower limit of the conscription age while keeping the extension of the upper limit. Now, conscription will begin at 18 and will continue until 30. Thus, the boundaries of the conscription age are not being adjusted but merely extended it by three years. The changes will come into effect on January 1, 2024.

Army of Moscow

The same document grants the Moscow government the right to use its security force to assist law enforcement agencies, including the police and the National Guard, even with the use of combat weapons.

The capital city’s security force was created in March this year. Authorities claimed that staff were being recruited to protect metro facilities. Now, they will also be called upon to protect such vague concepts as “public order” and “public safety.” The number of employees of the new structure engaged in such protection is not specified by the authors of the amendments. To cooperate with the this security force, law enforcement agencies will conclude an agreement with the Moscow government, without the need for approval from other authorities.

Governors’ PMCs

Governors will also get to establish their own armed units. They will be given the authority to create organisations in the form of state unitary enterprises, which will enhance the “protection of public order,” assist law enforcement agencies, the FSB and the military, protect borders, fight saboteurs and armed groups.

Weapons and ammunition, which will be issued “as service weapons,” will be received from official agencies, potentially the National Guard. The exact list of available weapons will be determined by the regional authorities. The received weapons can be carried in public spaces, provided there is a certificate.

It is specifically stated that these units will combat drones by shooting them down or jamming their signal. The decision to terminate these “enterprises” is up to Putin himself. Governors will receive the authority to create them on January 1.

Restriction of movement

Another draft law passed today initially concerned a deferment for fathers of many children who are reservists. Now it prohibits men who have received a summons from leaving the country as the amendment on deferment was rejected by the Duma.

“Colleagues, you understand that we have discussed many times that amendments to the law ‘On Mobilisation Preparedness and Mobilisation’ are very sensitive. They are sensitive because this law has been drafted for a major war, for a total mobilisation. And now, the scent of that major war seems to be in the air. And we continue to think about whom to protect? Later, there would be no one to protect! Understand this,” Deputy Andrey Kartapolov reprimanded his colleagues.

In April this year, Vladimir Putin signed a law on electronic summons. According to it, if a summons is not handed over in person, it is still considered to have been served within seven days from the moment it appears in the register of summons. After this week, “restrictive measures” such as a ban on property sale, driving a car, registering as a businessman, and leaving the country, begin to apply.

The conscript should receive a notification of being included in the register of summons on the day such a decision is made by the military official. Thus, conscripts had a week to leave the country before the restrictive measures came into effect, but now deputies are depriving them of this opportunity. The new draft law stipulates that the ban on leaving the country begins to apply immediately from the moment of receiving the summons by any means—in person, at work, by mail, or when placed in the register.


Deputies considered in the third reading another law related to the army, about fines for non-appearance by summons from the military recruitment office. Currently, Article 21.5 of the Code of Administrative Offences provides for a fine of between 100 and 500 rubles (about $1 and $5.5).

At the first reading in March 2021, deputies planned to raise the upper limit of the fine to five thousand rubles ($55), but postponed it til this spring. Now, the Duma’s Legislative Committee proposed increasing fines to 50,000 rubles ($550). The latest proposal, for the third reading, sets a fine of 30,000 rubles ($330). At the same time, fines are increased not only for citizens, but also for their employers, who are obliged to assist the military registration and enlistment offices. For non-provision of such assistance, legal entities face a fine of up to 400,000 rubles ($4,400).


Another repressive law that was adopted stands out from the rest: it clarifies the Criminal Procedure Code’s standard on suspect detention. It amends the existing rule that a suspect can be held for no more than two days, extending this to 30 days under conditions of martial law. Currently, martial law is in effect in the occupied regions of Ukraine, specifically the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Editor: Dmitry Treschanin

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