Moscow barbers fight to survive amid mobilization

STORY: Faced with a sharp drop in clients since Russia began mobilizing men to fight against Ukraine, Moscow barbers, like Kirill Kryukov's Citizen Barbershop, are battling to survive.

"Once they announced mobilization, we personally lost 30 percent of clients, for sure. And my friends - barbers who are working in other barbershops, heads and owners of businesses, all noticed a strong drop in clients, which is only getting worse."

Kryukov added that one of his staff members was taken away to the frontline, further impacting the business.

And other barbers say they are having to expand their skillset to cut women's hair instead.

Hundreds of thousands of men have been summoned to join the army or have fled the country.

The central bank last week said mobilization was posing new challenges, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

It flagged risks linked to a shrinking workforce, as well as consumer and business confidence.

And experts say the mobilization has aggravated an existing brain drain from Russia.

Maria Shagina, a research fellow at the IISS think tank, said before, businesses fought for state funding and subsidies. Now they are fighting for the workforce.

The Kremlin has announced some financial support for those mobillized.

Enlisted servicemen are entitled to payment holidays on loans.

Authorities have also sought to give entrepreneurs more time to transfer control of their businesses should they be called up to the army.

But Kryukov said their businesses had received no help.

"Let's say, if you take all of our industry - because we are in really close contact with each other - those who survived the pandemic, above all, if we all survive mobilization - all the barbershops that continue working should deserve some kind of monument."