mobilization briefs
April 13, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Apr. 11–12, 2023 CIT volunteer summary 

As expected, the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation approved the law on digital draft notices. Now, for the law to come into effect, it must be signed by the President.

The head of MinTsifry [the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of Russia] responsible for creating a common register of Russians subject to military service, Maksut Shadaev, gave a comment on the register. In particular, according to him, the register can be fully launched no earlier than next fall's regular biannual conscription campaign.

A number of government officials made statements regarding the new law. State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] member from the Zabaykalsky region, a member of the defense committee, Andrey Gurulyov, stated that the amendments aimed only to streamline the work of military commissariats [enlistment offices], correct mistakes identified during mobilization and conscription campaigns, and introduce liability for evasion of military service. Rumors about a new wave of mobilization, he called "nonsense." In the Federation Council, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said that the law on digital draft notices is aimed at making citizens' lives more comfortable. The law's adoption was justified by the efficiency and convenience for citizens, according to Russian President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. One of the co-authors of the bill, the head of the State Duma Defense Committee, Andrey Kartapolov, stated that the law on digital draft notices was necessary for creating an effective "mobilization deployment" system.

State Duma member Oleg Nilov called for starting to use the common register of Russians subject to military service before the end of the spring regular biannual conscription campaign. Moreover, he proposed introducing a "military tax" of 2-3% on individuals' income.

The Vyorstka media outlet spoke with members of the State Duma who were involved in the drafting of the infamous amendments and with experts. According to the sources in the Duma, the digital draft notification process will be tested as early as in the ongoing spring conscription campaign, which is why the Duma pushed the changes through so hastily. The amendments were lobbied by the Ministry of Defense.

The changes will also affect the procedure for appealing against being conscripted. The amendments will make it impossible to automatically suspend the appealed decision of the draft board until the court decision comes into force. In other words, earlier, a conscript appealing against the decision of the draft board knew he would not be called up until the decision was declared lawful. The proposed amendment to paragraph 7 of Art. 28 of the law, "On military duty and military service," will leave only one chance for this, contingent upon the court’s leniency to take measures of provisional protection.

The Voyenny Ombudsmen [Military Ombudsman] Telegram channel responded to the most frequently asked questions on measures introduced by the new law that can be applied to force the conscripts into reporting to the draft office, as well as about the conditions of traveling abroad. Other than that, the Telegram channel's lawyers clarified whether the restrictions apply if the draft notice is sent for the purpose of a “data check-up.” A lawyer of the Peace Plea human rights coalition also commented on the new conscription rules.

In the midst of the turmoil related to the digital draft notices, the State Duma discreetly, in three readings in a row, adopted an amendment allowing 18-year-olds to sign up for contract-based military service immediately after graduating from high school. Under the current law, one needs to graduate from a vocational school or a university first or at least complete the first three months of conscription service. Once the amendment is approved by the Federation Council and signed by the President, teenagers, fresh from high school, can be sent to the front as early as four weeks into their service. According to the presidential decree, they will no longer be able to terminate the contract until the end of the war with Ukraine.

In addition, according to the law on digital draft notices, the Ministry of Defense will be able to offer contracts to conscripts immediately after they are recruited. According to the current law, the Ministry of Defense has the right to offer a conscript to conclude a contract for military service only three months after the start of service under conscription. Contract servicemen may be deployed to the "special military operation zone."

First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense Aleksey Zhuravlyov submitted a draft law amending the Criminal Code and the Federal Law "On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights <...> of Citizens of the Russian Federation". He proposed banning citizens dodging military service from holding public offices or being elected as a representative in an assembly for a lifetime.

The Russian Ministry of Defense asked Russian airlines to reserve five or six seats on flights for military personnel during the summer. The idea was supported by the Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya). The reservation will be automatically canceled 12 hours before departure if the servicemen do not claim the seat. Airlines fear financial losses if the military personnel who booked the seats do not appear on the flight and do not understand the booking mechanism. This initiative can also be used to legalize overbooking.

In Russia, the spring conscription campaign has been going on since Apr. 1. In Russia’s constituent Republic of Bashkortostan, 69 draft boards have been set up in cities and districts; there are seven draft boards in Ufa. In total, it will call up more than 6 thousand people in the city. Since Apr. 1, 843 people have come to the military commissariats. About 150 people have not arrived without good reason, of which 25 have already been charged with a misdemeanor.

An active campaign to become a contract service member continues in the country. In Moscow, the building of Mosstroyexpertiza, which used to be a collection point for the mobilized, has now become a contract military service recruitment facility. Military service is advertised at metro stations in the capital. Multifunctional Public Services Centers near Moscow hand out leaflets to visitors urging them to go to the war on a contract basis. Meanwhile, an advertisement for the Wagner Group appeared on the facade of a wedding shopping center in Novosibirsk.

Artur Pankov from Perm, Nikolay Belyaev from the Novosibirsk region, Aleksandr Sapozhnikov from the Lipetsk region, Stepan Poluektov from the Sverdlovsk region, Leonid Tishkin from Bashkortostan, Viktor Alekseev from the Penza region and Mikhail Salagin from the Kemerovo region were added to the lists of those mobilized who were killed in the war.

The Setevyye svobody [Network Freedoms] Telegram channel reminds us that calls to ignore draft notices and not report to military commissariats can lead to criminal liability. On July 14, 2022, new article 280.4 ("Public appeals to carry out activities directed against the security of the state") was included in the Criminal Code. There are already several criminal cases under this article. In particular, poet Artyom Kamardin was charged with such an offense for words spoken at a poetry evening in Moscow. We have already reported on his case in our summaries.

In the Russia’s constituent Republic of Komi, a 61-year-old woman was detained for attempting to set fire to a military commissariat. She allegedly threw two “Molotov cocktails” at the entrance door of the building. According to information from the Shot Telegram channel, a criminal case under the article "Act of Terror" can be initiated.

In the Oryol region, a former military serviceman is suspected of sexually assaulting his 10-year-old stepdaughter. According to investigators, in March of this year, the man-made advances toward her while drunk. His wife, who entered the room, rushed to protect her daughter and then called the police. The woman reported that her husband had been involved in hostilities in Ukraine from August to November 2022. After returning home, he drank frequently and showed aggression towards family members. By court order, the suspect has been remanded in custody. This is not the first criminal case opened against participants in the war in Ukraine for crimes against the sexual integrity of minors. Earlier, a contract soldier was detained in the Rostov region for soliciting intimate photos from underage girls. Meanwhile, in the Russia’s constituent Republic of Buryatia, a criminal case was opened against a military serviceman who, while at war, asked his partner to send him intimate photos of her 13-year-old daughter.

Aleksey Moskalyov, convicted in the "anti-war case," was apparently extradited to Russia from a Belarusian pre-trial detention center. The OVD-Info independent human rights project learned about this from a local human rights activist, who tried to visit Moskalyov in the detention center on Apr.12. Aleksey's lawyer Vladimir Biliyenko, who cooperates with the project, said that Russian law enforcement agencies had not informed him about the extradition of his client to Russia.

The ASTRA Telegram channel continues to follow the case of 19-year-old Timur Dzhurayev, who was detained in Moscow for evading military service. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail for hooliganism. It became known that the Moscow City Court rejected the appeal and did not accept the request of Timur’s parents to present records from CCTV cameras outside the house where Timur had been detained. The records could confirm the testimony of the young man.

On the portal of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Sverdlovsk кegion, Tatyana Merzlyakova, a report appeared showing that since the beginning of mobilization, the Commissioner’s hotline had received more than 20.5 thousand appeals: most often, people complained of a lack of medical examinations and uniforms, delays in processing documents of mobilized soldiers and poor living conditions at collecting points. Most of these problems were subsequently resolved.

Sergey Nikolaenko, a dentist and an owner of a medical-industrial center for facial prosthetics, invited two participants of the special military operation from the “LPR” to Krasnoyarsk to restore their faces after injuries. Since the state doesn’t provide financing for such operations, the money for them is collected from charitable foundations.

Cases of coercion to transfer a part of one’s salary for the needs of the participants of the special military operation continue to occur. According to Lyubov Sobol [Russian anti-corruption activist and opposition politician], employees at the Omsk State University are forced to write applications for withholding their daily earnings.

Aleksey Tsydenov, the head of Buryatia, reported collecting 17 vehicles to be sent to the “special military operation” zone by road train in his Telegram channel. The governor of the Moscow region reported that 3,600 tons of aid had been collected during the year for the residents of the “DPR-occupied territories and the participants of the “special military operation” within the framework of the Good Deed campaign.

Participants of the war continue visiting schools in Russia. Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, an independent Russian investigative media outlet] featured a monologue of Emil Vayerovsky, a volunteer fighter who spoke to schoolchildren of the Komi Republic. In Bashkortostan, a "lesson of courage" for schoolchildren was taught by a mobilized soldier who returned home for leave.