“As soon as this suddenly starts to affect your loved ones, loved ones and acquaintances, there is a natural, human and defensive response,” he said. “The first question a lot of people have started asking is: Why?”
In the isolated settlements of Yakutia, where high-speed internet is often lacking, Russian state television remains the most important source of news for many. Mr. Shadrin, leader of the Yukaghir community, describes members of his Indigenous group – scattered in small villages across the vast region – as outright supporters of the Kremlin. But after trying to handle panic phone calls from moms this week, he thinks that could change.
“Putin’s support” has fallen off the charts” in rural Yakutia, Mr. Shadrin said. “Now I think a sanity is starting to happen.”
At a reindeer farming business, he said, four out of 20 herders were drafted. Among the Yukaghirs, he said, he knew of seven men who had been called up, and he expected the number to increase as the hunters and herders returned to their villages and received summons order. The total population of the Yukaghirs, he said, is about 1,600, including just 400 males between the ages of 18 and 45.
Several community organizations published an open letter requesting the suspension of the draft for ethnic minorities in the region, asserting that even during World War II, the indigenous peoples of the Soviet Arctic had were not mobilized because there were too few of them.
“Our villages are small and every man is worth in gold,” Ivan Shamayev, chairman of the Sakha Parliament and signer of a letter, said in a phone interview. “Villages would hardly survive without men, and that’s why they needed to figure this out.”