• December 9, 2022

Russians are flooding a Kremlin-run, Quora-style site with anxious questions about the Ukraine war

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Russians are flooding a Kremlin-run question-and-answer webpage with anxious queries about the Ukraine war. 

Insider checked out Explain.rf, a site that brands itself as an official resource for all “socio-economic” information about Russia. The website takes questions from Russians via a chatbot, which sends the queries to the relevant ministries. The site is then populated with the government’s answers to frequently asked questions, categorized by topic.

The top category on the site was “partial mobilization,” the Kremlin’s term for its mass conscription exercise in Ukraine. Under that category tag were dozens of questions — from soldiers asking what would become of their money after they are killed in action, to concerned Russian fathers asking what documents they need to prepare for their families. 

“If a soldier has no family and immediate family, can he name a third party as the recipient of payments in the event of his death?” read a question posted on October 11. 

“Payments made in the event of the death of a soldier can only be received by family members,” read the Russian government’s response.

Others asked whether more than one member of their family could be conscripted at the same time.

“Can both brothers from the same family be called?” read a question posted on October 15. The answer was: “Yes, if they meet the requirements for citizens subject to conscription for mobilization.”

Fathers wondered how, in their absence, the paternity of their children could be proven. 

“What documents need to be submitted and where to prove that there are three dependent children?” read a question posted on October 25. 

Others submitting questions to the site had financial concerns, like whether they would receive a monthly payment of 196,000 rubles, or $3,180, regardless of where their units were sent. And some queries appeared to come from women, who wondered what would happen to them financially after their partners leave for the war.

“My husband was mobilized, are any payments due to me and the children?” read a woman’s question on October 19. She was told to call her region’s local hotline to find out about the social support measures available to her.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 21 ordered a partial military mobilization and called up 300,000 army reservists to fight in Ukraine, after months of heavy losses in the war. 

The Washington Post reported that after Putin’s conscription order, Russian police and military officers started seizing men from restaurants, Metro stations, and their workplaces.

Putin said on October 14 that 222,000 of the targeted 300,000 reservists have been conscripted for the conflict.

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