mobilization briefs
April 17, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Apr. 14–16, 2023 CIT volunteer summary 

On Apr. 14, in addition to the law on a common register of persons subject to military service, President Putin signed a decree simplifying the procedure for recognizing participants in the war in Ukraine as dead or missing. Thus, one can be declared missing if their whereabouts are unknown for six months; one can be declared dead if they disappeared under life-threatening circumstances or circumstances, giving grounds to assume death upon the expiration of six months from the date of disappearance. Prior legislation allowed to declare a service member dead only after two years following the end of hostilities.

Also on Friday, Apr. 14, the so-called "acting head of the LPR," Leonid Pasechnik, signed a decree on the spring and autumn regular conscription. Citizens born between 1996-2005 will be subject to conscription in the occupied part of the Luhansk region. The text of the decree does not clarify when exactly conscription will commence; it only requires the medical examination to be carried out from Apr. 1 to Jul. 15, 2023. It is worthy of note that earlier, Andrey Kartapolov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense and one of the authors of the law on digital draft notices, promised that conscription would not impact the occupied regions of Ukraine. This is not the first time in the recent past that Kartapolov's statements turn out to be untrue.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense reported on the progress in the spring conscription campaign. According to the ministry, 52,000 conscripts have so far received draft notices, of whom more than 50,000 have already reported to the military registration and enlistment offices. 21,000 men were called up for military service, while the remaining 29,000 were granted deferrals. On Apr. 20, the first groups of conscripts will be deployed to their permanent duty stations. Other than that, the ministry assured they would not mass-mail digital draft notices to conscripts. The statement made by the Ministry of Defense suggests that the common digital register of citizens subject to military service is already up and running, as well as the process of notifying citizens via the Gosuslugi public services web portal.

In the Astrakhan region, military commissariats [enlistment offices] form the Lotos nominal military unit, in which the region's inhabitants will serve as contract soldiers. In the two weeks of April, more than 200 people expressed a desire to start contract service within the new unit, according to a statement from the authorities.

In Kazan, contract military service is offered to students at a job fair at Kazan Federal University: there is a mobile selection point for contract service. The military recruiters offer a contract-based service instead of conscription, describing all the advantages of such a decision. The fair is held with the support of the national Demography project. Job fairs are held these days throughout the Republic of Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic]. In addition to ordinary employers, military commissariat representatives are also coming to these fairs.

A volunteer at a Ministry of Defense advertising stand in Moscow tried to convince the Sota correspondent that those who signed a contract would allegedly not be sent to the war. According to him, only PMC mercenaries can be sent there, while ordinary contract soldiers will allegedly be distributed to the border and other relatively calm areas.

The lawyer of the Anti-Corraption Foundation Lyubov Sobol in her Telegram channel published photos of brochures that are handed out to participants of Friday prayers in mosques in Moscow. In brochures, a parallel was drawn between the actions of the Russian authorities in Ukraine and the events of the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

A fake photo allegedly taken at a stairwell of one of the houses in Stavropol is getting around Telegram channels. The picture shows a bulletin board, where requests for aid of a war participant are placed side by side with an advert of recruitment of mercenaries and funeral services advertisements. The journalists of the Sota Telegram channel found that the photo is a falsification.

Mobile points of recruiting for military service in the Russian Army were opened in Simferopol, Crimea. Tents with mobile recruitment points have been set up in the center of Yaroslavl, in the Astrakhan region and in Petrozavodsk, Russia’s constituent Republic of Karelia. Meanwhile, in the Novosibirsk region, men who want to serve in Rosgvardia [National Guard of Russia] in the “DPR” are being recruited.

The list of mobilized soldiers who were killed in the war in Ukraine has been supplemented by Ilya Konchakov from the Moscow region, Maksim Tikhonenko from the Vladimir region, Aleksey Vakhrenev from Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic], Anton Panin and Artyom Romash from Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region [Russia’s federal subject], Aleksey Zykov from Zabaykalsky region, Adel Khamzin from Tatarstan, Roman Borovikov from Saint Petersburg, Sergey Konovchenko from the Voronezh region, and Aleksandr Vladimirov from the Ivanovo region. Also the name of one more mobilized soldier, Aleksandr Balandin, who was killed as a result of the strike on Makiivka on Jan.1, 2023, became known.

The ASTRA Telegram channel published one more appeal from mobilized soldiers, who were airlifted to Rostov-on-Don in early April, and then brought to the Luhansk region. Earlier, we told that 170 people from this group were tried to be forced to sign contracts with a certain Wolves PMC. In the new appeal, servicemen who had previously served in different units (including the 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 346th Motorized Rifle Regiment) asked the authorities to sort out the situation. The soldiers turned out to be left to their own devices, the command did not provide them with supply, and there were no officers among them. At the same time, many soldiers had been previously injured and, after medical treatment, were listed as having left the unit, although they continued to serve. All this time they were not paid money allowance and not given leaves. They also did not have military IDs and other documents confirming their presence in the Luhansk region.

It also became known that after the aforementioned publication by the ASTRA Telegram channel, representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and the prosecutor's office were sent to the Stakhanov Car Repair Plant, where the servicemen were being held. The relatives reported that some servicemen had gotten in touch with them. According to the soldiers, they are being hidden in the basements so that the inspectors who have arrived do not see them.

An appeal from the relatives of soldiers mobilized from the Omsk region appeared on one of the Omsk public pages on the VKontakte social network. It reports that the military personnel of the 673rd Artillery Regiment, after 5 months of training, were sent to the combat zone, where they were transferred to the command of the 76th Airborne Assault Division, which uses the mobilized soldiers as assault infantry without appropriate training, as a result of which the servicemen suffer losses. At the same time, the command of the 673rd Regiment is staying in the rear, providing no assistance to its subordinates.

A group of mobilized soldiers from the Lipetsk, Ryazan, and Tula regions, serving in the 387th motorized rifle regiment, recorded a video in which they complain that due to the actions of those in command, they do not receive the aid sent to them from the regions. Also, according to these servicemen, the command set up a prison where soldiers are kept illegally for 2-3 weeks, and the military police of the regiment are loyal solely to the will of the commander.

The Crimean Garrison Court sentenced a professional soldier, Aleksey Usenko, to 10 years in prison for the murder of a member of the Russian National Guard and for threatening to shoot another. The incident happened last year. Usenko claims that he mistook the guardsmen for Ukrainian spies.

The Krym.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] media outlet reports that a Russian serviceman was sentenced to two years in a penal settlement for "failure to comply with the order of the commander." Alexander Minkin was tried at his unit headquarters; further details of the case are not available.

According to the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, Ivan Popov, the head of the warehouse of a military unit in Khankala, together with his accomplices, stole and sold the property of the Ministry of Defense worth more than 12.6 million rubles. Popov was charged with “grand embezzlement using his official position.”

Nastoyaschee Vremya (Current Time), a Russian-language TV channel, reports on the recent cases of relay cabinets arson, how they affected the railroad system, and the punishment that those charged with these crimes face. Earlier, Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet] published its study on the railway sabotage cases, noting that almost all the perpetrators were schoolchildren or college students, and about a third of them were minors.

A resident of Engels is unable to find her husband, who disappeared during the war. According to her information, he was captured, but the authorities do not acknowledge this and provide evasive responses.

The Takie dela [So It Goes] media outlet told a story of a mobilized soldier Sergey Stenkin, who received a suspended sentence for leaving his military unit to help his sick mother. Due to her progressive rheumatoid arthritis, she needs constant assistance, but to receive a more lenient sentence, Sergey wrote a report stating that he was ready to go back to war voluntarily and will likely be sent to Ukraine soon.

The government of Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region – Yugra will spend an additional 2 billion rubles on supporting war participants and their families within the Social and Demographic Development program. The region has also established a monthly allowance of 3,000 rubles [$36.5] for parents of deceased participants of the “special military operation” who served in volunteer units.

Teachers and students of the Gorno-Altaisk State University collected another batch of aid for Russian soldiers. Meanwhile, in Kislovodsk, Easter cakes with the Russian flag were baked for war participants. In Arkhangelsk, housing and utility bills now feature QR codes for donations towards the war effort in Ukraine.

The OVD-Info independent human rights project has published a report on the civil rights and freedoms of children in Russia. Much attention is paid to war propaganda and the persecution of minors for pacifist views.

The Ochevidtsy 24 Fevralya [Eyewitnesses of Feb. 24] project reports about single mother Elena Joliker and her 10-year-old daughter Varya, who are persecuted for not wanting to attend "Talking about Important Things'' propaganda classes and for the blue and yellow user pic of the child in a messenger. After a school principal reported to authorities on them, the police conducted a rough arrest of the mother and daughter and searched their apartment. In October, the woman was found guilty of faulty parenting.

Questions about the war in Ukraine will be included in the Unified State Exam after the textbooks are updated, a representative of Rosobrnadzor [Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science] stated.

In the village of Ilyinki, Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic], a meeting was held where a draftee talked to children attending a journalism hobby group at a local community center. The servicemen told children about "Polish mercenaries," about how he was wounded by a grenade and his commander was killed. Afterward, the head of the group recorded a video with the children in which they shared their impressions.

There have been several cases in which the German authorities have denied visas to several Russian citizens due to mobilization out of concern that the men will break the rules and fail to return home. Mediazona interviewed several people who were refused visas, as well as the coordinator of the InTransit project. The project helps Russians who may face reprisals at home with legalization in Germany.