Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill on Friday allowing authorities to issue electronic notices to draftees and reservists amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, raising concerns of a new wave of mobilization. Previously, Russia’s military service rules mandated in-person delivery of notices to conscripts and reservists. The new law enables local military conscription offices to send notices by mail, which will be considered valid once posted on a state portal for electronic services.

This legislation closes a loophole that allowed many Russians to evade the draft by staying away from their registered addresses, seemingly to quickly increase military personnel ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive in the coming weeks. Recipients who do not report for service will face travel restrictions, driver’s license suspensions, and asset sale prohibitions.

Kremlin critics and rights activists have condemned the new law as a move towards a “digital prison camp,” granting unprecedented power to military conscription offices. Lyudmila Narusova, widow of former St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, was the sole member of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, to oppose the bill on Wednesday. Narusova argued that the legislation contradicts the constitution and various laws and criticized its rapid approval.

Fears of another wave of mobilization have been fueled by the law’s swift enactment following Putin’s order for mobilization in the fall. However, Russian authorities deny that further mobilization is being planned. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the law aims to modernize the call-up system and make it more efficient and convenient for citizens.

Experts suggest that the new law may provide authorities with a mechanism for rapidly increasing military ranks in anticipation of a potential Ukrainian attack.

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