"Then half of you will die and half of you will be crippled".

The image was created with the help of a neural network

Tata lives in a million-plus Siberian city. She is 46 years old, has two children, and has gone through a difficult divorce. She works as a manager of economics and foreign relations in a company that barely survives, because it produces goods for export, which is almost impossible due to sanctions. But Tata's story is not about business during the war, but about the trouble that befell her son, a cadet at the Military Academy. At the beginning of his studies, he signed a contract of military service for a period of five years after graduation, and already the cadets have begun to be mentally prepared for the fact that they will be sent to the contact lines. Read the story about how Tata's political views changed and how her son, not planning a military career, ended up in bondage:

– I moved to Russia in 2012 from Kazakhstan under the program of resettlement of compatriots. With two children 3 and 13 years old. It was a principled move to the historical homeland. Kazakhstan was developing in accordance with its national identity, while Russia was on the threshold of its, as it seemed to the whole world at the time, rise, and I wanted to be a part of this, so that my children could live in their homeland, in a civilized, strong, original country...

In Kazakhstan we were Russians (to be fair, there was no harassment), but upon arrival in Russia we became "Kazakhs" - that's how we, immigrants, were called everywhere. Eyes began to open quickly, "rose-colored glasses" were shattered.

After obtaining citizenship, I sincerely tried to be a law-abiding citizen, diligently studying the current legislation... especially the "Law of Citizens Treatment"  – I used it to get my children places in kindergarten and school, to defend child support, to achieve "guaranteed" rights to amenities, services (medical, utilities, social services). All 10 years here, I felt like a classic "barrator". But, sooner or later, I got my rights respected to one degree or another.

As for the state system and the "principles of action" of the authorities, everything quickly fell into place. There was Nemtsov's murder, there was Navalny's trial. I started reading a lot, filling in the gaps in my picture of the world. I remember when Navalny was on trial in the Yves Rocher case and people were pouring into the streets in anticipation of the verdict, I also followed the events online. And when Alexey was released and the verdict was read out, he spoke at the rally. His words stick in my memory: "When I call to turn over the cars, burn firecrackers and sleep on the pavement - I'll warn in advance". Because there was a strong resonance in society, people were on the edge, but Alexey held back this excitement, of course, in vain...it was the most opportune moment.

My son went to the school closest to home. When I was doing the paperwork at the Directorate of the Federal Migration Service, the inspector asked me for the number of the school. I answered and she looked at me with sympathy: "This is the worst school in town". We quickly became convinced of that ourselves. My son did well in school, played sports, did not smoke or drink alcohol. Exactly all of these qualities became an insuperable obstacle to his acceptance into the "collective". They scratched on our front door, threw snowballs on the balcony, entry phone. He started skipping classes, was depressed.

In our city there is a cadet corps, with a long history, famous alumni... In addition, that year the corps was transferred from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Defense (the first signal - then, more than 10 years ago everything was conceived), funding has increased, for the first time there was a competition for admission.

My thoughts were about an orderly regime, a high level of education, will pass the USE well, get quality knowledge and get into any civilian university (a military career was out of the question). I offered my son, he lgot enthusiastic, began to prepare for admission, successfully passed the entrance exams and got in.

He was taken "over the fence" in August. A week later I saw my child haircut, in uniform, and with a strange, wandering look on his face. A month later he told me he wanted to be in the military... And then I didn't realise all the possible consequences, didn't take it seriously.

The image was created with the help of a neural network

Three years in the corps were not easy — rare dismissals, uniforms, lunchboxes over the fence...  Graduation in the end. They have a brotherhood: handsome, smart, strong "men", and the world is their oyster. My son took the liberty of declaring that he was going to a flying school (he almost seriously wanted to be an astronaut, raved about the sky). We collected the documents, passed the medical commission (even then I saw only pluses in a military career cause there would never be a war).

He went to pass exams alone, went through two stages, when more than half of the candidates dropped out. Then a call at 11 a.m.: "Mom, buy a ticket home, I'm out of the gate". No emotion... bought it, he came, didn't get in.

I took his personal file, and the sheets of his medical records had been torn out. Again without emotion, to distract him from this disappointment, I persuaded him to go to a civilian college. He got through without any problems, he studied for one semester, everything was fine. Before the New Year he said: "I'm not going to study here, I'm going to the Military Academy"... and this time he got in.

I remember when I flew in for his loyalty oath. He was proud, pleased with himself, I was relieved... Well, the contract was for 5 years, he would serve a year, then he would realise that he did not need this military service, he would quit and find a job. The diploma will be a civilian specialty.
The image was created with the help of a neural network

In the second year, the confessions began: "It's a loonyville. They don't teach us anything here, I can't train, I'll go crazy here...". Then it was already absolutely clear what country we were living in, there had already been rallies, arrests, rape of the Constitution and all that. And last year he said that they signed a contract for 10 years and not for 5. Of course he hadn't read it when he signed it, and he didn't have it in his hands. It was only recently that I made him get a copy.

I read the contract, studied the law on contract service and all the September amendments: now he is obliged to carry out any orders, in case of refusal  criminal responsibility, depending on the "crime" from 5 to 15 years. When the full-scale invasion began, I was already absolutely aware of what was going on. And the realization of this monstrous terrorism makes me helplessly angry. And all ten months I am in an animal horror.

I learned to filter the news, read between the lines and draw conclusions. There is nothing wrong with my critical thinking. Absolutely no one knows what will happen next. Each side of the conflict, and there are not two, has its own forecasts, options, fears and plans. The good news is that Ukrainian leaders are already stating: "We should not underestimate the enemy," despite the fact that the "enemy" is completely dissected and has proven to be operationally and tactically incompetent.

That's why I said: "There may not be a second wave of mobilisation (so as not to stir up a Russian riot, senseless and merciless, the stupefied and battered masses, may still behave unpredictably), so now they may graduate cadets early and begin to use them for fight. And the facts are: the fifth-year cadets, who now have to write their diploma and prepare for placement.

I also have a terrible story about distribution. About how it happens and why the Ministry of Defense introduced a special position of "IT specialist" according to the Excel spreadsheet, instead of that since September they have gone 3 times to the "fields", to the military unit —  to guard the mobilised and to learn how to operate the equipment. Although their specialty, according to the profile of the university, has nothing to do with this "equipment".

And another horrible, inhumane, and simply brutal fact. The head of the course gathered the cadets together and said in a fatherly way: "At least celebrate graduation in a normal way, because then half of you will die, and half of you will be left crippled". That's it, I guess I'll stop here.

I am 46 years old, a single mother, but I am an adequate, sane woman who wants to live, who only a couple of years ago, having gone through a difficult divorce, began to look to the future with hope and expectations, I am now in a state of helplessness, in a feeling of complete deadlock. At the same time trying to look calm, to give support to my children, not to go crazy from the terrible disappointment in the people around me, including my close relatives, for whom everything that is happening is somewhere far away and not scary.