Russians turn to illicit markets for an "emergency rescue" from conscription

Since the announcement of partial mobilization in Russia, male citizens have been looking for their way out of duty on illegal markets.

An attempt to draft 300,000 troops to supplement the losses of the Russian army in Ukraine resulted in at least 260,000 men fleeing the country, although some reports claim the number might be as high as 700,000.

Those who hadn't left the country resorted to other means to avoid conscription. According to the report by an intelligence analyst Flashpoint, there has been an increase in chatter and advertisements on illicit Russian communities and social media platforms, offering methods to avoid the draft.

There is a whole underground market of fake employment contracts, forged health certificates, and other services to help Russians avoid the army.

According to Flashpoint experts, the market took off around September 26, after the rumors about closed Russian borders went wild. Even though this turned out to be fake, the Kremlin did make it harder for men to leave the country, forcing them to resort to illegal marketplaces.

"Some of them are likely scams that build on the widespread belief that bribes are an easy and reliable way to get out of the draft," Flashpoint noted.

One of the popular items on the underground market is fake employment contracts in Russian oil and gas facilities, automatically granting deferment from mobilization due to the strategically important nature of these industries. A fake contract costs up to $2,460.

Chronic illness is another way out of the army. Russian Telegram groups have been sharing a list of diseases that make men unfit for army service. A fake certificate with an HIV or hepatitis diagnosis costs $165-$660.

"A more straightforward service is the removal of names from databases handled by conscription offices, which often only exist on paper and not digitally."

And here is what they cost:

  • Removal of a name from the database: $410
  • Temporary deferment: $330-490
  • Emergency "rescue" from the drafting office: $740
  • Complete removal from any military records: $1,640

There have been some offers to falsify higher education certificates since certain categories of students are exempt from the draft.

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