April 15, 2024

From the Club to Ukraine?


From the Club to Ukraine?
People dancing at a party under purple lights. Vyacheslav Argenberg, Wikimedia Commons.

Russian nightlife – from hookah lounges to karaoke venues to bars and clubs – made headlines on April 12 after a deputy in the State Council proposed mobilizing those who attend clubs on Fridays to the frontline in Ukraine.

State Council member Eduard Sharafiev, who represents Tatarstan, declared himself a party pooper after announcing on his Telegram account, "I proposed a one-day mobilization! It must be done across the country on Fridays in all nightclubs." Sharafiev added that those with medical exemptions found inside a club should also be drafted, because "their health status allows them to visit a club" — the logic being that, if you can dance, you can fight.

Rumors are swirling around a possible mass draft. In late March, reports emerged that the Kremlin was planning to call up 300,000 reservists after the elections were over. Pro-government blogger Vladimir Romanov posted on Telegram that more people would be mobilized in May, but government authorities quickly denied his claims.

Sharafiev decided to call for this unusual draft method to address Russia's mobilization crisis. According to the Tatarstan State Council member, commanders in the army are holding back from mass enlistments due to labor shortages in certain sectors of the economy.

In his post, Sharafiev recognized that his proposal was unlikely to be accepted. However, the deputy added, "On the other hand, why not? After all, those people jumping around at the nightclubs are pretending nothing is happening. So, we will open their eyes to what is happening!"

Sharafiev traveled to the frontline in Ukraine in the fall of 2022 and April 2023. His visits inspired him to propose sending dance groups and artists to combat zones. The deputy has also justified his absences from the State Council's meetings as "military missions." 7x7 Gorizontalnaya Rossiya points out that politicians often go to Ukraine to strengthen their political positions, wait out a scandal, or avoid prison.

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