Russian mothers abandoned by their idle husbands have found the silver lining to Vladimir Putin’s military draft: turning their exes in for the draft to receive financial compensation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failing war in Ukraine gave rise to a “partial military mobilization” in which 300,000 new conscripts were called upon to fight. The draft sparked outrage and fear — evidenced by insurmountable protests and Russians attempting to flee the country.
But Russian investigative outlet Verstka reported dozens of women have come together in a ruse to get their exes into the military by giving enlistment offices personal data belonging to the men who abandoned them and their children. There’s even an online community in which at least 70 of the women are sharing their experiences and discussing the plot, according to Verstka.
Svetlana Mikhailova, a factory worker, told Verstka her ex-husband called her twice when the mobilization effort began, but she didn’t answer.
“He is a strong, tall man, he served in the army,” Mikhailova added. “I think he is in good health. It would be unfair if they did not mobilize him but mobilized our 19-year-old son with epilepsy. Or my partner who is raising children with me.”
Solving what the Russian courts couldn’t
Verstka highlighted the story of three other women who took to the scheme and used pseudonyms for them throughout. Insider was unable to independently verify the claims.
“Immediately after Putin’s announcement, the thought occurred to me: if my ex went to war, he would pay back the debt because he would be receiving official payments to an account that you can’t hide from the bailiffs. If he gets injured or dies, then the child is entitled to compensation,” Inna Kruglova, a technologist, told Verstka.
The women claim Putin’s military order may produce better results than the courts, which have enabled these fathers to abandon their children with little to no financial support.
“I believe that both parents should be responsible for the child. You can’t just drop like that. Unfortunately, our laws protect bastards who run from alimony. No harsh measures are taken against them,” Ekaterina Kotova, a copywriter, said. Kotova said her ex-husband picked up a bad alcohol habit, forcing her to kick him out when their child was young. But, according to her, he hasn’t helped raise the child and owes her 632 thousand rubles.
Lilia Sergeeva, an entrepreneur, told the outlet her ex-husband had been charged and sentenced to corrective labor for not paying alimony, but she asked, “what good is this to me?”
Sergeeva says she has a 17-year-old daughter with her ex-husband, who hasn’t “been paying alimony and has not participated in the upbringing of our child in any way.”
‘If he happens to get killed, it will even be good’
The risk of death doesn’t seem to be a deterrence for many of the women, who argue their absent exes don’t show up anyway.
“To be honest, I don’t care if my ex-husband is able to withstand the load at the front and how long he will last there. If women endure hard physical labor, then why a grown man in his prime can’t? To provide for children, many have to work like hell,” Sergeeva added. “I understand that there is a risk of death during the ‘special operation.’ But for me, my ex-husband died as a person a long time ago. If he is sent to fight and does not survive, I will receive only official confirmation that he does not exist — and all the payments due to the heirs.”
“He does not think about how his daughter has been living all these years, or what she had for dinner. And whether she had dinner at all,” Sergeeva continued.
Kotova even argues that her son may be better off if her ex-husband died.
“I don’t think I should feel sorry for him. For four years, he never got in touch with his son, although he lives forty kilometers from us. And when, in spite of all this, my child sees a father in every passing man, my only thought is: It would be better if he died already so that I could take my son to his grave and be done with it,” she said.
“Of course, I wondered how I would feel if he died there. But for 12 years now, my son and I have not seen or heard him, although we live in the same city — so it makes little difference to me if he exists or not. If he happens to get killed, it will even be good: the child will receive compensation,” Kruglova added.
Taiyler S. Mitchell is a Junior Reporter on the West Coast News Team at Insider, where this first appeared. Her work has been cited by outlets like The Independent and NBCLX.