A mobilized Russian soldier from the Siberian republic of Buryatia was sentenced to five years in prison on desertion charges after he purchased a forged death certificate in order to avoid returning to fight in Ukraine, RFE/RL's Siberian Service reported on Nov. 24, citing court documents.
The soldier, Zorigto Arabzhaev, was mobilized in November 2022 and deployed to Ukraine, and when spring came, he was granted leave. While back home, he obtained a fake death certificate, which his son showed to authorities, who came looking for him when he did not return to his unit.
Arabzhaev said in court that he did not want to return to the front in part because of his wife's emotional state. Immediately prior to his deployment, their eldest son died in an accident, and Arabzhaev's wife said she would commit suicide if he returned to Ukraine.
Desertion from military units is often punished with prison terms, although Russian courts have at times given suspended sentences. According to a Russian military lawyer who spoke to RFE/RL, the suspended sentence may used in order to send those convicted of desertion back to the front.
Buryatia, one of the poorest regions of Russia, has also disproportionately seen its men fight and die in Ukraine.