Manipulation with a footage of enforced mobilization in Ukraine

Published on:

A Facebook video purportedly shows a fight between Ukrainian citizens and the Recruitment Service enforcing the mobilization. It is described as a scene of resistance “against Zelenskyy’s regime,” even though the claim is unsubstantiated by a source and it is unclear what is happening in the footage. The person who published the footage is asking ‘why such clips from Russia are not available,’ leaving the impression that mobilization is not enforced in Russia. However, Russia does have enforced mobilization, the only difference being that the person who shows such an event might end up in prison for “fake news about the Armed Forces” or for “discrediting” the Forces, i.e. by violating Articles 207.3 and 280.3 of the Criminal Code, based on which the politician Ilya Yashin was sentenced to 8,6 years imprisonment for a YouTube stream criticizing the aggression in Ukraine. Such people can even be eliminated, just like his peer Boris Nemtsov or the journalist Anna Politkovskaya 



A video has been shared on the social network Facebook with the following description: 

Why are there so many clips from enforced mobilization from Ukraine, but I don’t remember seeing any from RussiaHmm? 

In the video a fight is shown between, allegedly, Ukrainian citizens and the Recruitment Service enforcing the mobilization while the author of the footage is asking himself why such clips from Russia do not exist, leaving the impression that there is no enforced mobilization in Russia. Enforced mobilization, however, is very much present in Russia, as can be seen from the following footage. 

Enforced mobilization in the shopping center Masinski Radiopazar, Moscow, 14.10.2022. 

Such clips from Russia exist but they are rare because the one who videos such an even risks imprisonment for “spreading fake news about the Armed Forces” or for “discrediting” by violating 
Articles 207.3 and 280.3 of the Criminal Code. On this basis, the politician Ilya Yashin was convicted (an 8.6-year prison sentence) for criticizing the aggression in Ukraine on his YouTube stream. People can even be killed for similar actions, as was the case with Boris Nemtsov or the journalist Anna Politkovskaya. 

One should also bear in mind that Russian President Vladimir Putin has engaged many mercenaries, like the paramilitary Wagner or prisoners who have been promised amnesty. That could also be an explanation for why Russia does not have many enforced mobilization clips. 

In Russia, however, enforced mobilization does existAndrey Lebedev (23) from Chelyabinsk was picked up from Moscow State University, although students and the sick are not mobilized and Lebedev belongs to both groups. Ivan Serdyukov (21) and Vladislav Kuznetsov (22) from Volgograd worked in Moscow and they were taken from the accommodation provided by their company. Daniil Panov (25) from Moscow was picked up while going to work, while the Tatar from Crimea Mamut Useinov (26), who became popular as a finalist in a talent show, was gathered from a prayer in a mosque. Recruits are “hunted” down from metro stationscompanies, cafes, etc.

Even government supporters have complained about these incidents, but they are tolerated because they do not oppose the government or the war. They only seek regular conscription that excludes exempt categories.

The fact-checked post leaves the impression that mobilization in Ukraine is not popular, while the opposite is true in Russia. However, approximately one million Russians left their country precisely because of the mobilization, while the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry registered 220 assaults (mainly with Molotov cocktails) on recruitment centers throughout Russia. 

Concerning the clip attached to the post, the author says the following: 

People in Ukraine are fighting with bare hands against Zelenskyy’s regime not to send military recruits. 

This is not substantiated by a source. Even if there was a real altercation between citizens and recruitment officers, there is no evidence indicating that the brawl was directed against Zelenskyy or driven by political motives. It is possible that the mobilized individuals reacted out of survival instinct, but this remains speculative.

What we know with certainty is the following. Ukraine admits that its recruitment service has been excessive at times and that President Zelenskyy condemned them by undertaking investigations and arrests (more significant examples: here and here). Such incidents cause fights, but the Russian disinformers blow that out of proportion and even record fake clips of recruitments from the occupied territories in Ukraine so that it will seem more authentic. Some claim that the fact-checked clip is real and that it was recorded in the village of Usivka in the Kyiv Oblast in Ukraine, but we are skeptical about that due to previously specified reasons. 

Be that as it may, Ukraine acknowledges that it is not ideal — a country that is engaged in a decade-long war cannot be ideal. Despite this, Ukraine maintains its democratic principles and openly discusses its problems, even amidst declared martial law, which imposes certain restrictions on freedoms. Ukraine is a victim of aggression and, like any nation, must defend itself. The expression of dissatisfaction by citizens regarding the implementation of mobilization does not imply a lack of desire to defend their country.

Russia, on the other hand, has not declared war, nor martial law, but restricts the rights of the citizens and has no justification for the mobilization intended for purely an aggressive war. That kind of war is prohibited, even by Russian laws (Article 353). Therefore, it is not Zelenskyy, but Putin who is a champion of capriciousness, the only difference being that talking about it is banned in Russia. On top of that, Russia is forcibly mobilizing people from occupied territories, which is a war crime. 

The post fact-checked keeps these facts silent, thereby depriving the public of the entire outlook of the event. Therefore, we assess that the post suffers from a lack of context.