After the start of the first mobilizations in Russia, a couple of organisations were created to help mobilized people to either escape military service or acquire them non-combat roles:

Knowing the legal flexibility of the Russian legal system, I ask: how effective are these anti-war legal consultants?

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    The information you seek might be very hard to obtain. You basically ask how many people in Russia managed to escape military service in the war. That might not be known. May 24 at 10:58
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    Can you try to elaborate a bit more on your questions, rather than just posting links. Not everyone wants to follow a link (that may go dead in a few years) to see what you are talking about to see if they can answer. That goes double for Youtube videos without timestamps. May 24 at 15:59

3 Answers 3


Well, according to a December article (in War Resisters' International), the alternative civilian service (which a number of those Q-linked orgs talk about) has been de facto abolished for the mobilized:

No legal or practical provision exists for alternative civilian service (ACS) during mobilisation, despite the Constitution guaranteeing this right for every citizen. This has led to military recruitment offices refusing applications for ACS and sending conscientious objectors to military units. Moreover, a November legal amendment allows those already undertaking ACS after being called up for regular military service to be transferred to a non-combat role within the Armed Forces. The amendment effectively "abolishes ACS as a peaceful alternative to military service" during mobilisation, says lawyer Valeriya Vetoshkina.

[...] Chugunov and other lawyers have encouraged conscientious objectors who have received a summons for mobilisation to lodge applications for ACS anyway. "In the application, you must inform [the mobilisation commission] about your anti-war beliefs or religion and provide a link to Article 59 of the Constitution," Chugunov advised draftees on his Telegram channel on 22 September. "The application will be followed by a refusal, possibly threats of criminal prosecution, so you need to be ready to continue to fight for your constitutional right. The refusal can be appealed in court."

Unfortunately, the piece doesn't discuss any statistics on success/failure in Russian courts on these matters.

OTOH, there's one AP article from March that says that in one case such a legal challenge was successful, and that it was apparently the first one:

A court in Russia on Thursday affirmed the right of a man mobilized to fight in Ukraine to perform an alternative form of civil service due to his stated religious beliefs, setting a precedent that could persuade more reluctant draftees to try to get out of military service. [...]

[...] Thursday’s ruling was the first of its kind since the mobilization began amid Moscow’s increasingly bogged-down military operation in Ukraine. [...]

The publicly known attempts by other draftees to opt for alternative civil service failed, even though the right to be assigned to civil labor if military service goes against a person’s beliefs is guaranteed under the Russian Constitution.

The mobilized in question who managed this feat (in March) had however served his initial conscription tour as ACS as well (in 2019, woking in a psychiatric care home for two years).

According to media reports, [Mushumansky] was allowed to carry out alternative civil service in 2019 instead of a mandatory stint in the military as a conscript and worked for almost two years in a psychiatric care home. [...]

Last year, he received a call-up summons just days after Putin announced a “partial mobilization.” Mushumansky went to the enlistment office to apply for the alternative service but was turned down and assigned to a military unit.

While challenging the decision in court, he refused to wear a uniform or to obey orders from his commanders.

In November, a court in Gatchina sided with Mushumansky, but enlistment officials appealed the ruling. The regional court’s Thursday decision takes immediate effect [...]

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    It's a technicality of sorts, but... "No legal or practical provision exists..." - Legal provision does exist, and it's mentioned (the Constitution). Legally, the Constitution has direct force and supersedes all other laws. But practically, of course, it's all backwards and the routine local executive orders take precedence, even in direct violation of the higher laws.
    – Zeus
    May 25 at 1:29

Not efficient (for securing the rights of the ones already mobilized)

While all linked sites from the question ask for donations, they do not provide the summary of achievements, or how donations have been spent. One of them contains "financial report" but it only summarizes how much money have been collected in all currencies.

This is not very usual, because, for instance, humanitarian organizations offering food and medical assistance normally provide wide overview of exact activities and achievements right in they pages. Say World Central Kitchen: 300 mln meals served. Plant trees in Ukraine? Overview right in the first page.

Even Ukrainian organizations helping for they military normally go into details, where and how the money have been spent. Serhiy Prytula hell rides? About 1111 vehicles purchased for Ukrainian army. It is actually advised not to donate for organizations that are not transparent with they spendings. Here I would also expect something like "200 abuse reports investigated, 100 found grounded, we forced Putin to buy better socks and more grenades against Prytula vehicles". I do not see anything the like.

While protecting legal rights and solving actual problems of Russian citizens in the army would be in place and legitimate, the sites seem more focusing on assistance how to avoid the military service. While not all ways to avoid the draft are illegal, not being publicly proud with that kind of statistics in understandable.

Hence I conclude that no, these projects did not provide significant lawful, respectful, legitimate and appropriate (from the view point of the government) help for soldiers already serving in the army, because it would not be any reasons not to list these achievements.

The independent station Dozd has lost the license and been shut down in Latvia after they said that "the station had already helped provide many Russian soldiers with basic equipment and amenities". But they did not say how much of this help has been actually provided.


A frame challenge here is determining what the "rights of the mobilized" means, which may be defined drastically differently depending on who you ask.

Even judging by the domain names, the prime aim of the listed services seem to be escaping mobilization and service, they may be somewhat successful at that, though realistically - crossing national border seems to be a much more reliable way to escape mobilization than going through it and then relying on NGOs to get you back. My scepticism is compounded by the observation that these NGOs seem to be more interested in Western press attention than in number of people they have successfully demobilized. Alignment with political opposition, who often flat out calls for non-compliance to orders and even sabotage, may also practically limit their legal results since they would be not viewed as faithful citizens with honest legal concerns.

However, there is a different direction of securing the rights of mobilized, such as, making sure that the mobilized are paid their wages and bonuses accordingly, that they are well equipped, that they are permitted leave they are due, that they get their compensation for being wounded, etc. People who were arguably mobilized without violation of law also need legal help. line of legal help also exists - I've heard that Junemann's OB has lawyers who take care of this, as well as some prominent mil Telegram channels. But the linked NGOs are very doubtfully will be interested in providing it, since their chief agenda seems to be evasion of military service, not improvement of military processes.

To illustrate, AGS "No War" (they're most socially active so I review them) started their Telegram channel shortly after the war has started by pulling a Tolstoi's quote directly denigrating servicemen

Война такое несправедливое и дурное дело, что те, которые воюют, стараются заглушить в себе голос совести. (Л. Толстой)*


War is such an unfair and bad thing that those who are fighting are trying to drown out the voice of conscience in themselves. (L. Tolstoi)*

following by a repost of Meduza article about them helping an anti-war activist.

* The caveat of this quote being that Tolstoi himself fought in a war, and the line was written in a diary when he was on active military duty, not trying to escape it by legal means - whether it applies to anti-war movement is debatable.

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    Well, the war is indeed an illegitimate act of international aggression so using any means of sabotage is completely fair game. Your answer makes it seem like Russia’s war is legitimate and should not be protested by law abiding citizens. May 24 at 13:52
  • @JonathanReez Jailing you for sabotage and making harsher judgements in court against your acquaintances will also be a completely fair game in these circumstances. As Zeno said, "your fate was to steal and to get beaten for that".
    – alamar
    May 24 at 14:42
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    @JonathanReez Within Russia's borders, the war isn't a war and is a legitimate Special Military Operation. The question and answer are directly referencing inside of Russia's borders. For an NGO to operate within Russia's borders legally and provide legal support, it must operate within the boundaries of their government's official stance. Outside perspective of the wars legitimacy is completely irrelevant to the question or answer. This answer is understanding of the context and giving information based on this context.
    – David S
    May 24 at 16:50
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    "chief agenda seems to be obstruction of Russian military efforts" This seems to be the major point of this answer however it is only stated without any backup. Would it be possible to give more information about what made you think these organizations are not sincere? May 24 at 17:08
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    @Fizz The Union of Comittees of Soldiers' Mothers is a chapter-based organisation since 1998. Their St-Petesburg chapter indeed was designated a foreign agent in 2014 (and had succesfully repealed this designation in 2015). By the way, its predecessor existed prior to official registration in 1991 - there's a reference to the organisation in the USSR Presidential decree № УП-1048 dated November 15, 1990 "On measures to implement the proposals of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers". May 25 at 4:04

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