Russia draft tanks small businesses

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia’s mobilization of reservists has brought uncertainty and chaos to businesses already hard-hit by sanctions and still recovering from the fallout of the pandemic.

In glitzy central Moscow, 45-year-old Yelena Irisova is distraught at seeing her company, which produces luxury leather bags, stop production.

She employs around ten people in the small business.

But two of her craftsmen left the company in recent weeks — one fearing mobilization, another to help her daughter whose husband had been sent to the front.

“After 21 September, everything collapsed,” Irisova said. “Our sales fell threefold — from 10 to three orders a day.”

She says her savings will keep her going “a month or two, but not more.”

No Russian business seems unscathed.

Katerina Iberika, 39, who owns a pastry shop specializing in birthday cakes in Moscow, is also facing ruin.

Her five employees are women with exemptions from mobilization. But it’s the low morale among the public that’s endangering her business.

“Cancelations of orders for big events started two days before mobilization,” Iberika told AFP.

Now she gets nearly no orders at all, except for “very small” ones.

She is considering leaving Russia.

Some industries have been harder hit than others by a sudden lack of men.

Employers have sounded the alarm in recent days, asking the government for exemptions from mobilization, in particular for small and medium-sized companies.

Russia’s economic development ministry told AFP that it had drawn up a list of measures for these “problematic issues.”

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