Russian authorities have launched a campaign to recruit essential workers for the “reconstruction” of territories in eastern Ukraine occupied by its forces, according to public online job postings and news reports.
Since shifting the focus of its invasion to the east following a failed effort to capture Kyiv, Russia has said its main objective is to “liberate” the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine mainly populated by Russian speakers.
Now officials appear to be banking on Russia’s poorest and most patriotic citizens to help those regions recover from the devastation of its four-month offensive, offering above-average salaries and a host of benefits.
Dozens of job postings on the Russian online marketplace Avito are calling on bricklayers, roofers, painters and welders to join in the reconstruction of Donetsk, the capital of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR).
Most advertisements target users outside major urban centers and to promise starting salaries two to three times higher than regional ones medium.
Workers are also promised an impressive benefits package that includes coverage for all meals and lodging, paid vacation, “career growth” opportunities, and even a $60 cash bonus for referral. a trusted friend.
Although the listings are published by private contractors, some mention that the project is sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Construction and are accompanied by motivating slogans such as “Let’s rebuild Donbass together”.
According to the advertisements, all workers who venture into the patriotic mission will have to undergo screening by the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia.
While construction workers are promised to be “shipped” to the occupied territories “within days”, the advertisements make no mention of compensation in the event of a worker’s injury or potential death.
Construction recruiters contacted by The Moscow Times declined to comment on worker safety or potential compensation.
Russian pro-government voluntary organizations have would have has been recruiting and sending professionals for months for “humanitarian” missions in the separatist republics of eastern Ukraine.
According to the government-linked humanitarian group Together with Donbas, dozens of Russian psychologists and teachers are currently working on a voluntary mission in Mariupol, the port in southern Ukraine that was almost completely destroyed by the Russian forces before they captured him last month.
Unlike construction workers, teachers are would have be recruited through private channels, such as closed social media groups at universities specializing in teacher training.
According to the Siberia-based news site Tayga.info, one such recruitment post looking for teachers of “all subjects” appeared in a student chat at the Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University.
“Tasks [are] to ensure the start of the school year, to organize the work of instruction and education and to work with the children,” the message of the “business trip” to the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia reportedly said.
The university said the post was not genuine.
Security concerns are a major factor hampering the recruitment of Russian-trained teachers for the occupied territories, according to Daniil Ken, the head of the independent Teachers’ Alliance union, which is affiliated with jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny .
Although promised salaries are up to nine times higher than average in recruiting regions, demand for teaching vacancies in eastern Ukraine remains low, Ken said.
“I hope some people morally understand that traveling to occupied territories is wrong, but there is also a rational risk assessment,” Ken said. Told the Polish television channel Belsat on Tuesday.
More successful seems to be the ongoing recruitment of civil servants, local deputies and activists loyal to the Kremlin, according to the Vedomosti newspaper reported earlier this week.
Politicians who travel to the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk are guaranteed a doubling of their salaries and even promised promotions upon their return to Russia, according to the Kommersant newspaper reported Monday.
Several well-known regional politicians have already been promoted to important positions in the breakaway republics.
Rostislav Antonov, MP for the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, was appointed as humanitarian adviser to DNR chief Denis Pushilin earlier this month.
“From the beginning of the special operation, I spent a lot of time on the territory of the Donetsk Republic, working on the liberated territories and helping people. This official status will allow me to work with more dedication,” Antonov wrote on his Telegram channel, using the Russian government’s term for the war in Ukraine.
Antonov said he would retain his salaried position with the Novosibirsk Council of Deputies and would be able to “fulfill his responsibilities” at home despite his new “honourable and important” role in occupied Donetsk.
But contrary to the patriotic fervor of recently promoted regional officials, ordinary Russians might simply be less optimistic about their future prospects in the newly “liberated” lands.
“There is a good chance that [the territories] subject to a counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces,” Ken said. “So some… were coming back to Russia in a body bag.”