As domestic issues mount and the Russian military struggles to maintain its tenuous hold on Ukraine, it appears that Russia has moved one significant step closer to becoming North Korea.
In response to one employee’s alleged failure to ever return, the Russian news outlet Baza on Wednesday reported that male employees of Russia’s presidential administration have been forbidden from traveling abroad.
According to the outlet’s unnamed sources, the administration has issued an order stating that such a ban will be in place until limitations associated with the “mobilization” are lifted.
Even international vacations are reportedly no longer allowed for people in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. “It’s possible that this is a precautionary measure, since there is a rumor among officials in the administration that such a requirement appeared after the ‘escape’ of an employee from one of the departments,” the outlet reported.
The claims have been refuted by the Kremlin; Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti that the report was “downright untrue.”
However, the report came as Moscow seemed to step up efforts to quell domestic dissent while also ramping up its irrational war rhetoric.
Putin’s spy chief appeared to try to raise the stakes as the results of a closed poll conducted at the Kremlin’s request leaked on Wednesday, showing a more than two-fold drop-in support for continuing the war among regular Russians, according to Meduza.
Sergei Naryshkin revived a Kremlin hoax that experts say is intended to sow distrust among Ukraine’s allies and fuel fears of NATO in Russia by claiming in an interview with RIA Novosti that “the information received by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service indicates that Warsaw is stepping up preparations for the annexation of Western Ukrainian land: the territories of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and most of the Ternopil region.
Poland has consistently denied having any ambitions in Ukraine.
As more and more families of Russian draftees publicly criticize the botched war effort more than nine months after it began, the claim, if anything, appeared to be a much-needed diversion from Russia’s own shortcomings on the battlefield.
The British security think tank RUSI published a report on Wednesday that put the Russian military’s setbacks in stark perspective. Researchers stated that Russia “planned to invade Ukraine over a 10-day period and then occupy the country to enable annexation by August 2022.”
Russian officials now seem hell-bent on maintaining public support long after that fictitious deadline.
On Wednesday, the Russian Ministry of Culture unveiled its list of “priority” subjects for national cinema, promising state funding for films that highlight “traditional values” in Russian culture, “Russia’s peacekeeping mission,” “popularization of the heroism and selflessness of Russian soldiers during the special military operation,” and the “degradation of Europe.”
And while Russian families and soldiers have recently spoken out in the media about military gaffes involving new draftees, that may all change on Friday when new legislation takes effect, effectively silencing any potential critics even more than existing laws already do.
The Federal Security Service’s decree effectively outlaws the disclosure of any military-related information because it views such disclosures as posing a risk to national security.
The Internet is currently flooded with videos and articles complaining about the poor living conditions for mobilized [troops]. According to Citizen.Army.Sergei Law’s Krivenko, the authorities are once more tightening the screws, as reported by Radio Free Europe.