August 2, 2023
According to Russian independent media outlet Meduza, there have been at least 28 attempts to set fire to military enlistment offices and Defense Ministry buildings over the last five days in Russia and in Russian-occupied Crimea.
From July 29 to Aug. 2, cases of arson have been recorded in cities across the country, from Vsevolozhsk, just outside St Petersburg, to Khabarovsk in the far east.
Meduza reported that the series of attacks on military enlistment offices is the largest since mobilization was announced in September 2022 in Russia, and that most arson cases occurred in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan.
Other cities where arson was recorded include Volgograd, Ulan-Ude, and Omsk, as well as Feodosia in Russian-occupied Crimea.In St Petersburg, two different offices were set on fire on Aug. 1. In Podolsk in Moscow Oblast, the same military enlistment office was set on fire twice, first on July 31 and again on Aug. 2.
According to Radio Svoboda, there were 12 arson attempts on July 31 alone and most of the attempts were carried out by women. All the suspects said that they were forced to do this by telephone scammers.
Multiple reports claim that the arsonists said they were driven to set fire to enlistment offices by seemingly fake telephone calls, often from people posing as Russian intelligence operatives.
Meduza refers to reports on Telegram that the 51-year-old woman who threw a Molotov cocktail at an enlistment office in Feodosia on July 29 claimed an FSB officer had convinced her that criminals were hiding in the building.
On July 31, a 17-year-old girl claimed she also threw a Molotov cocktail at her local district military enlistment building in Zabaikalsky Krai after being convinced a Ukrainian spy was inside, according to local Telegram channels.
Meduza also reported that one of the arsonists in Podolsk, a 22-year-old fast food chain employee, claimed he had been scammed by someone who convinced him to participate in “some kind of special operation.”
According to Radio Svoboda, attempting to set fire to an enlistment office in Russia is now being categorized as a terrorist act, for which there is a life sentence.
The wave of attacks comes after Russia’s lower parliamentary house, the State Duma, decided on July 25 to raise the upper age limit for conscription from 27 to 30.