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Russian Opposition Leader: Staffer Abducted, Sent to Arctic

Alexei Navalny says Ruslan Shaveddinov was forcibly 'conscripted' for military service
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2019 9:45 AM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen in the Kremlin in Moscow on Wednesday.   (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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(Newser) – The Russian military says it's simply making a 23-year-old draft dodger fulfill his one-year conscription—but President Vladimir Putin's main opponent is calling what happened earlier this week a kidnapping. The Guardian reports that Ruslan Shaveddinov, an activist and project manager at opposition leader Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, was taken by police Monday from his Moscow apartment. Shaveddinov's partner, who's Navalny's spokesperson, says she heard from Shaveddinov on Tuesday, when he called her using someone else's phone from a remote Arctic military base on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. Navalny says Shaveddinov also called him, on Wednesday, to alert him to his location, and to say his phone had been confiscated and that he was under nonstop surveillance, even while using the bathroom, the BBC reports.

"He has been unlawfully deprived of freedom," Navalny wrote in a blog post cited by the Guardian, which notes that Russian men are required to put in one year of military service between the ages of 18 and 27. Navalny says that Shaveddinov was exempt from the requirement due to medical reasons, but, shortly before Shaveddinov was seized Monday, a Moscow court on Monday rejected his appeal against serving. A human rights activist, meanwhile, tells AFP that those undergoing compulsory enlistment don't usually get sent to outposts like the one Shaveddinov is at, which experiences harsh weather and many hours of darkness. A Putin rep says he wasn't sure on all the details of Shaveddinov's case, but that if Shaveddinov had indeed dodged his service "and was drafted in this manner, then everything was done in strict accordance with the law." (Read more Russia stories.)

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