Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny said that one of his allies was "illegally" drafted to the army and was sent to serve at a remote Arctic base, in a move he said amounted to kidnapping.
Ruslan Shaveddinov, a project manager for Kremlin foe Navalny’s Anticorruption Foundation (FBK), was placed into compulsory military service and sent to serve in the Arctic on December 23, the group’s spokeswoman and the opposition leader said on social media.
Shaveddinov was detained in his Moscow apartment and sent 5,600 kilometers away to Novaya Zemlya to serve at a remote air defense base in the Arctic Ocean, FBK learned on December 24.
In a blog post on December 25, Navalny said Shaveddinov had been "unlawfully deprived of freedom," calling the 23-year-old a "political prisoner."
Navalny said Shaveddinov has a medical condition that disqualifies him from military service but that he was forcibly drafted and sent to the Arctic base without basic training.
Navalny, who has defied President Vladimir Putin’s rule and whose FBK has exposed large-scale public corruption, blamed the Kremlin leader for sending the group’s project manager away.
"Looks like Mr. Putin himself drafted the plan to isolate our Ruslan," Navalny tweeted.
The opposition leader's ally was conscripted legally, Deputy Moscow Military Commissioner Maksim Loktev told the TASS state news agency.
Shaveddinov was detained based on a December 23 court ruling that rejected his challenge of a medical examination’s findings concerning his eligibility for military service.
Loktev said Shaveddinov was enlisted on October 28 but the draftee disagreed with the army conscription commission’s decision regarding his health.
A lower court on November 11 also rejected Shaveddinov’s challenge.
Service in Russia's military is mandatory for most male citizens who are drafted for one year after turning 18 and before reaching the age of 28.
New conscripts are often subject to brutal hazing and bullying by more senior soldiers, so many young males try to avoid service by all available means.
Meanwhile, a Moscow court on December 24 fined FBK lawyer Lyubov Sobol the equivalent of $16,000 for twice repeating offenses related to rules on staging public events.
The latest fine relates to opposition rallies for holding free municipal elections that were held on August 10 and 31, both events that the Moscow Tagansky District Court ruled were led by Sobol.
However, the August 10 opposition rally was held with a permit from local authorities, but without Sobol’s participation because the offices of the FBK were being searched that day, according to the lawyer.
Over the summer, regular demonstrations were held in Moscow and other Russian cities in protest at independent and opposition candidates not being able to get on the ballot for local elections. The protests soon grew to voice discontent with Russia’s broader political system.
Sobol now faces a total of more than 1 million rubles ($16,000) in fines for actions related to the summer of protests in Moscow, the Mediazona rights group has reported.
On the same day, FBK director Ivan Zhdanov was fined 25,000 rubles ($400) and city council member Yulia Galichina 40,000 rubles ($650) for actions related to the summer protests.
Navalny Says Ally Was 'Kidnapped' By Army, Sent To Arctic Military Base