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Russian ‘conscription leak’ is likely a fake


An unverified dataset said to be a list of men Russia will draft to the war in Ukraine has been circulating since Thursday.

A dataset supposedly containing names, dates of birth, home addresses, and personal identification numbers of Russian citizens has been circulating on social media. Weighing around 100MB, the dataset supposedly includes the 300,000 names of people the government will send to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

The dataset spread like wildfire via social media channels in Russia, as many find it hard to grapple with the new reality of the ‘partial mobilization’ Russia’s president Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Russian military would draft 300,000 reservists, which corresponds with the number of names on the supposedly leaked list.

Russia observers said the list was rumored to have been stolen from the Russian Ministry of Defense. However, none of the rumors have so far been verified. According to Aric Toler, a researcher at the investigative journalism group Bellingcat, the list is almost certainly a fake, containing repackaged data from earlier leaks.

Others pointed out that an existence of a coherent list with 300,000 names is doubtful as regional conscription offices make up their own lists on who to enlist in the armed forces.

Russian troops poured into Ukraine on 24 February, kickstarting the largest military conflict Europe has seen since the end of World War 2. While the Russian government refuses to call the conflict ‘war’ and describes it as a ‘special military operation,’ the Kremlin has already lost over 50,000 troops.

President Putin announced the partial mobilization of reservists in Russia on 21 September to supplement the losses. While officials say they will draft 300,000 people into the Army, reports from independent Russian media claim that the actual number is likely to be closer to 1 million draftees.

According to the United Nations, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created the ‘fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.’ Over 12 million people were displaced due to the conflict in a nation with 44 million residents.

Witness testimonies from Ukrainian towns Russian forces have occupied for close to a month point to severe human rights violations and targeted lethal attacks against civilians. Reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” got Russia suspended from the UN Human Rights Council.


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