Since September 21, new marriages are contracted in Russia every hour. With President Putin’s announcement to mobilize at least 300,000 men for the war, many Russians rush to the nearest registry office. Because only wives are allowed to see their partner who was injured or killed in the war in the hospital. Also, only they receive compensation for his war effort. In the event of death, wives are entitled to up to seven million rubles – the equivalent of over 110,000 euros. If her husband is injured, three million – just under 48,000 euros.
In some Russian regions there are even organized bus trips that take the soldiers from the assembly bases to the nearest registry office. Makeshift wedding halls have been set up in other recruitment centers, according to a report by RadioFreeEurope and Radio Liberty. “We are marrying mobilized Russians en masse, several couples at a time,” said a mobilization district head of Russia’s Pytalovo region.
Many registry offices are threatened with overload. Various registry offices reported a rapid increase in marriages. In the Sabaikalye region in eastern Siberia, 1,211 mobilization reports were submitted on one day and associated marriages were requested. In the Amur region on the border with China, as many marriages were contracted in the first three days after the mobilization as in the whole of August. The conscription is an exception in Russian law. Recruits do not have to wait four weeks after registering at the registry office, but can get married on the same day.
Anna Vasilyeva married her partner Aleksei after he received his draft notice. They had queued for hours, she tells RadioFreeEurope and Radio Liberty. After the wedding she tried to convince her husband not to go to war. But he refused. He should stay human, she told him. “He shouldn’t torture anyone if a Ukrainian surrenders to him,” she continues. “But I’m not sure he’ll stay the same good man I’ve known for so long.”
According to research by the independent portal Mediazona, 31,000 marriages by conscripted men were registered in 75 of the 85 Russian regions by mid-October. Mediazone then compared the number of new marriages with the number of unmarried couples in Russia. The result: By mid-October, 492,000 people are said to have been mobilized when the estimated figures for the other ten regions are added.
In view of the war, conscripted Russians are explicitly looking for women to marry. So does Wassilij Timofejew, who addresses women from his hometown of Belovo in southern Siberia on Facebook. The “NDR” reported first.
Critics describe such an approach as fraud, speak of fake weddings. But Wassilij found a woman from his hometown. “She’s a good woman, but I wasn’t looking for her as a partner, but as a person I might be able to help,” he told NDR.
A Russian woman whose life partner was drafted told RadioFreeEurope and Radio Liberty that wives have significantly more rights. In addition to paying compensation for injuries and deaths, the state also covers the cost of housing the women when they visit their wounded husbands in the hospital. Depending on the region, the families of mobilized soldiers also receive one-off payments of between 50,000 and 150,000 rubles – between 800 and 2400 euros. Marriage also makes sense for Russians who want to flee their homeland because of the war. Many countries only grant the right to reunification for spouses if only one is employed in the chosen country.