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Russian Enlistment Officer Shot, Recruitment Centers Torched as Kremlin Admits Mobilization 'Errors'

Military registration and enlistment office in Lomonosov, Leningrad region. vk.com/welomonosovs

A Siberian enlistment officer has been shot and seriously wounded during Russia’s military call-up, regional authorities said Monday as rising discontent over the draft prompted the Kremlin to acknowledge "errors" in the process.

Gruesome footage from an Irkutsk region military recruitment office showed a man in fatigues shooting another man point-blank and sending others scattering from the assembly hall.

The shooting marks one of the most dramatic instances of outrage over President Vladimir Putin’s draft of around 300,000 reservists for battle in Ukraine. 

Igor Kobzev, the governor of the Irkutsk region 5,000 kilometers east of Moscow, said chief enlistment officer Alexander Yeliseyev was critically wounded and is now fighting for his life as a result of the shooting.

The shooter, whom Kobzev has not identified, was detained at the recruitment office in the Irkutsk town of Ust-Ilim.

Local media outlets with close links to the security services identified the shooter as local resident Ruslan Zinin, 25.

Zinin’s mother, Marina Zinina, told the Astra independent news website that Zinin was “very upset” because his friend without military experience had allegedly received draft papers despite the authorities’ pledge to recruit strictly experienced reservists.

“Ruslan himself did not receive a summons, but his best friend did yesterday,” Zinina was quoted as saying.

An eyewitness who spoke with the Irkutsk-based Telegram channel “Bratchane” said he saw the shooter barge into the assembly hall with a sawn-off rifle and yell out “no one’s going anywhere” before going on a shooting rampage.

Investigative authorities launched a criminal case into an attempt on the life of a law enforcement officer and the illegal acquisition of weapons.

Since Putin made the surprise announcement Wednesday, at least 20 recruitment offices were torched across Russia’s 11 time zones, according to the independent news website Mediazona and The Moscow Times' Russian service.

Thousands of Russians have also taken to the streets in protest. The North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, the region with the highest known number of troops killed in the Ukraine war, became a flashpoint of anti-draft protests over the weekend with more than 100 reported detentions. 

Also on Monday morning, a man in the western city of Ryazan set himself on fire at a bus station while saying he didn't want to take part in the war in Ukraine, local reports said.

The Kremlin admitted that errors had been made during the mobilization of reservists for the military action in Ukraine and said no decision had been taken to close Russia's borders.

"Indeed, there are cases when the (mobilization) decree was violated. In some regions, governors are actively working to rectify the situation," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"Instances of non-compliance (with the decree) are decreasing. We hope this will speed up and that all errors will be corrected."

AFP contributed reporting.

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