Police in Russia’s far east say they’ve found a man who deserted the army 11 years ago and has been hiding in the woods ever since.
The 30-year-old, who hasn’t been named, was wanted by police after disappearing from his post on the Kamchatka peninsula in 2004, a year after being conscripted,the Tass news agency reports. He was subsequently declared dead after family members “identified” his body in the months after he deserted, and the case was closed. But officers finally caught up with him, alive and living in a forest, after residents of a local village called them about a “suspicious inhabitant” who had settled nearby, the NTV channel says.
“The man told police he had built a small house from old construction materials near the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky,” a police spokeswoman tells Tass. “He was collecting berries and mushrooms and scrap metal, and worked at a swine farm and went fishing to earn his living.”
The local interior ministry says the man stayed in the Kamchatka region and didn’t attempt to return home or contact his family during his 11 years in hiding. While he has now been detained, NTV points out that it’s not yet clear if he’ll face any punishment because so much time has passed since the original offence.
The current law, last updated on January 1, 2008, requires that all male Russian citizens from ages 18 to 27 are conscripted into a mandatory draft for 12 months. This is a change in the law from 2007, which had the length be 18 months. In the Soviet era, and up until 2007, the law required a two-year term. It was reported in 2002 that only eleven percent of eligible men actually enter the required draft.
Earlier this year, in October, President Putin conscripted over 150,000 soldiers to continue Russia’s increasingly active fight in Ukraine and Syria.