Russia excludes some IT professionals, bankers and journalists from mobilization

Russia said on Friday it was exempting some bankers, IT workers and journalists from being drafted into the army to serve in Ukraine under President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that Russia would seek to call up 300,000 additional troops for Russia’s war in Ukraine in what the Kremlin calls a “partial mobilization”.

The section of the official decree announcing mobilization which included the number of people who would be drafted was kept classified and unpublished, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia’s defense ministry said some employees working in critically important industries would be excluded from the draft in a bid to “ensure the work of specific high-tech industries, as well as Russia’s financial system”.

The exceptions apply to some IT workers, telecommunications workers, finance professionals, as well as some employees at “systemically-important” mass media outlets and interdependent suppliers including registered media and broadcasters.

Russia classifies major employers and core companies in set industries as “syetemically-important” if they meet certain thresholds in terms of headcount, revenue or annual tax payments.

The classification allows firms to get special benefits from the Kremlin such as government-backed loans, bailouts and state investment, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the media outlets previously classified as such are a host of state-run TV channels, radio stations, news agencies, and newspapers, as well as some of Russia’s few privately-held media outlets.

The defense ministry said heads of companies should draw up lists of their employees who meet the criteria and can be excluded from the draft.

Many Russian companies appear to have been caught off guard by Putin’s mobilization order, which followed weeks of speculation about how Russia would respond to a conflict now entering its seventh month in which Kyiv and the West say Russia has suffered tens of thousands of casualties.

“We’re looking into it for now. We’re trying to understand how this will work,” a source at one large non-state company told Reuters on Friday shortly after the defense ministry issued its statement.

Russia’s central bank welcomed the move to exclude some financial professionals from being called up and said some of its staff met the relevant criteria.

“Employees who are engaged in critical areas will remain in their positions so the financial system can continue to work smoothly, people can receive their salaries, pensions and social benefits on time, card payments and transfers work and new loans can be issued,” the central bank said in a statement.

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