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Russia is forcibly conscripting men in Chechnya to fight in Ukraine, imprisoning those who refuse and threatening their families, the "Severny Kavkaz SOS” (North Caucasus SOS) crisis group reported.
According to the testimony of several individuals who have been jailed or threatened, Chechen security forces are detaining and blackmailing residents and their families by demanding payment if they refuse to fight in Ukraine.
"It is very effective what they came up with. People were simply given a choice: either a huge sentence, or go to Ukraine. And if a big family, then what? If you don’t go, then we’ll substitute your younger or older brother and then send him. They made so many people go there. They intimidate the population," one testimony read.
Chechen authorities launched an aggressive propaganda campaign in support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year that encouraged men and women to join the Russian military and sought to shame those who did not support the war.
The campaign was largely carried out by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of the Chechen Republic who has been responsible for a multitude of human rights abuses in the region. Kadyrov proposed sending upwards of 300,000 Chechen residents to fight for Russia back in October 2022.
On top of the forced conscription, Chechen authorities are also offering incentives for men and women to become law enforcement officers, which has faced a serious shortage since last year.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been an opportunity for Kadyrov to gain favor with Vladimir Putin and to attempt to expand his political ambitions outside of Chechnya.