mobilization briefs
April 19, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Apr. 17–18, 2023 CIT volunteer summary 

Amendments to the law on citizenship were prepared for a second reading in the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia]. Among the proposed changes, people will no longer be allowed to renounce their citizenship if they have an “unfulfilled obligation to the Russian Federation arising from federal law.” Such obligations would include conscription and mobilization. Additionally, naturalized citizens may in the future lose their citizenship as a result of “acts endangering the national security of the Russian Federation.” It should be noted that the State Duma has already approved an amendment that authorizes the cancellation of acquired citizenship for “defamation of the Russian Army” or collaboration with an “undesirable organization.”

A bill on life imprisonment in cases of treason has passed the second and third readings in the State Duma. Its authors propose to toughen the penalties for arson of draft offices (by treating them as sabotage), for threats against Russian diplomats and Vladimir Putin, for donations to organizations that the Russian authorities consider “terrorist,” and for treason, increasing the maximum sentence to life imprisonment. Furthermore, the Criminal Code would include a new article: aiding and abetting foreign authorities and “international organizations, in which the Russian Federation does not participate,” to carry out their decisions” would lead to fines of up to 1 million rubles or 5 years in prison.

The State Duma is considering recognizing fighters of illegal armed groups as war veterans. This initiative was introduced by Yaroslav Nilov [member of the LDPR far-right party]. He says a bill called “On Veterans,” which would grant the corresponding status to participants in the war in Ukraine in 2014 and, more specifically, to members of paramilitary groups and authorities of the “LPR” and “DPR,” will be discussed in a first reading on Apr. 18. Amendments, which would make employees of “private military companies” also war veterans, are planned for the bill’s second reading. “Even though our legislation does not recognize private military companies, we know that such organizations are taking an active part in the ongoing [special military] operation,” said Nilov.

Governor of the Novosibirsk region, Andrey Travnikov, announced that "a federal decision has been made to equalize the monetary compensation for mobilized servicemen and contract soldiers." Now, war participants who have signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense receive 204,000 rubles per month. Upon arrival at the military unit, they, like mobilized soldiers, receive a one-time payment of 195,000 rubles. The governor also announced that residents of the region who signed a contract on Mar. 1, 2023, will receive a one-time regional payment of 100,000 rubles.

In the Federation Council [upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], a bill has been prepared that recognizes participants and veterans of the war in Ukraine as a vulnerable category of citizens for the purpose of their employment in the field of social entrepreneurship.

In Moscow, the city's video surveillance system will be used to identify draft evaders who live outside their registered place of residence, said the military commissar of the city, Maxim Loktev. According to the "Network Freedoms" Telegram channel, rumors about the capabilities of the facial recognition system operating in the capital may be exaggerated. Human rights defenders believe that the system is still in the testing phase and will not be able to be used in the near future for mass "catching" of conscripts.

The Voenny Ombudsmen [Military Ombudsman] project examines whether the new amendments have affected alternative civilian service (ACS) and also reminds us of the procedure for actions to take in order to exercise the right to ACS.

Another article by the Voenny Ombudsmen s dedicated to the question of whether the authorities will be able to start sending electronic draft notices through the Gosuslugi public services portal in the near future. According to legal experts, based on the adopted law, even a test mailing of electronic notices to personal accounts of citizens will be lawful only after the Government of the Russian Federation adopts a relevant resolution.

Journalists Farida Rustamova and Maksim Tovkaylo have revealed how authorities were working on a large-scale military reform and how the new system for tracking all those liable for military service in Russia was going to be structured.

Meduza [an independent Russian media outlet] obtained "recommendations" on how to cover the "amendments on electronic draft notices" created for the pro-government media. The document was written in a highly formal language, and from it, one could learn how propagandists should convince Russians that electronic draft notices would be a "boon" for the country.

A promotional video for contract service appeared on the official Telegram channel of the Ministry of Defense. Residents of Kabardino-Balkaria [Russia's constituent republic] received flyers listing the benefits and the salaries of participants in the war; advertising for contract service also reached small towns in the country.

The Novaya Gazeta. Europe media outlet conducted a large study of how Russia's authorities draw citizens to war. For example, on the VKontakte social network, there were seven times more posts with advertisements for military service. Almost 90% of these posts are advertisements for contract service; also, two and a half thousand were announcements about the recruitment of volunteer fighters and mercenaries into the Wagner Group.

In Yekaterinburg, Ulyanovsk and Rostov-on-Don, anti-war quotes were displayed on the digital street screens. One of the phrases appeared in a publication by BBC News Russian and belongs to a mobilized soldier from Chelyabinsk. The administrations of Yekaterinburg and Rostov-on-Don called the incident a hacker attack.

Meduza, together with the lawyers of the Prizyv k sovesti [Appeal to Conscience] project, has prepared an instruction that will help Russians who have left the country to be taken off the military rolls remotely and thus not to lose their rights.

The journalists of the Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet found out how sports clubs in Saint Petersburg recruit volunteer fighters for the Wagner Group and even interviewed a man who signed a contract with mercenaries.

TASS [Russian state-owned Federal Information Agency] reports with reference to the co-chairman of the central headquarters of the Immortal Regiment that the processions will not be held this year. According to the sources in the mayor's office and regional authorities of the Vyorstka media outlet, the event was canceled in order to avoid possible incidents. Earlier, parades on May 9 were also canceled in several regions.

The lists of the mobilized soldiers killed in the war were updated with the following people: Aleksandr Kleshchevnikov from Yugra, Aleksandr Lobanov from the Volgograd region, Vladimir Solovyov and Anatoly Samoilov from the Krasnoyarsk region, Sergey Leonov and Stanislav Tsyrenov from Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic], Aleksandr Savushkin from the Vologda region, Aleksey Zamorotsky from Tver, Vyacheslav Porotikov from the Chelyabinsk region, Nikita Karpov and Andrey Polovikov from the Kursk region, Yevgeny Kharkov from Voronezh, Dmitry Bychikhin from the Arkhangelsk region, Viktor Shutov from the Omsk region, and Aleksey Zenkov from the Sverdlovsk region.

According to the ASTRA Telegram channel, mobilized Russians, who were threatened into signing contracts with the Wolves PMC in the Stakhanov Car Repair Plant in the town of Kadiivka, do not get in touch again.

A serviceman of the 1199th Regiment, Flarit Baitemirov, told that he is being kept in a three-meter-deep pit, a so-called “zindan,” for the fourth week. According to him, he was punished for consuming alcohol with fellow soldiers, and prior to being placed into the pit, he was beaten, and his collarbone was injured. Moreover, the man accused the regiment commander of misappropriating the aid sent to the soldiers. Earlier, a video appeared with the mobilized of the 1199th Regiment in the pit, in which, according to them, they were put by the command for drinking alcohol. The men also showed signs of beatings.

The military court passed sentence upon Colonel Ivan Mertvishchev, the head of the main organizational and mobilization department of the General Staff, for attempted fraud. To recap, he demanded a washing machine from the draft officer of the Ramenki district in exchange for covering up the allegedly poor mobilization results of the enlistment office. Employees of the enlistment office reported this to the military intelligence department, after which Mertvishchev was detained. The colonel was fined 400,000 rubles and banned from serving in official positions for two years.

The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced a mobilized soldier to 8 years in a penal colony for unauthorized abandonment of a military unit. The man left the unit on Oct. 3, 2022, to avoid being sent to the war, and hid with his cohabitant until being detained for a misdemeanor charge on Feb. 18.

The Magnitogorsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced a mobilized soldier to 5 years in a penal colony for unauthorized abandonment of a military unit. The man left the unit in the Sverdlovsk region in November 2022, and in January 2023, he voluntarily surrendered to the police.

In 2022, 1,121 people were convicted of draft evasion. This is a record for at least 10 years. In previous years, the numbers were much lower. For example, in 2020, 554 people were convicted, while in 2013 — 738 people. Until 2022, the number exceeded 900 people only twice — in 2012 and 2021.

The Sota media outlet found information on the website of the FSB [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation] that a resident of Crimea was sentenced to 10 years in a maximum security penal colony for setting fire to a draft office in June 2022 in Simferopol. The FSB claims that after that, the young man was preparing to blow up the railway bridge in the Sovetsky district of Crimea.

Eduard Charov, a priest from the Sverdlovsk region, who organized a shelter for the homeless and sheltered draft dodgers during mobilization, was fined 65,000 rubles for anti-war posts on social networks. The OVD-Info independent human rights project has reported on other clergymen who are also being pressured by the Russian authorities for disagreeing with the official position of the Russian Orthodox Church on the war in Ukraine.

The Vyorstka media outlet visited the town of Efremov in the Tula region, the hometown of Alexey and Masha Moskalyov, to talk to local residents and learn about their attitude towards the criminal prosecution of the family for an anti-war drawing and a post on social media.

In the Kemerovo region, parliament members in the second reading approved a bill on the creation of a preferential mechanism for the purchase of housing for participants of the “special military operation” and military personnel who performed combat tasks in Syria. They will be granted a 20-year mortgage loan without a down payment and at a 3% interest rate.

At one of the Gazprom enterprises in Yakutia [Russia’s constituent republic], employees are being urged to submit a statement for monthly deduction of a monetary contribution in favor of the Solidarity charitable fund, created to raise funds to help mobilized soldiers.

A resident of Veliky Ustyug, Vologda region, prepared a UAZ off-road military light utility vehicle sheathed with 5 mm steel to be sent to the mobilized Ustyug residents in the “special military operation” zone. At the same time, three diesel generators were handed over to servicemen in the Kemerovo region.

In the Perm region, children were forced to make homemade stereo tubes for the war participants, which supposedly would save their lives, and to say “something” to the servicemen on camera.

The high school students of Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] are sent to military camps, which will be held in shifts of 5 days until the end of the year, with the participation of 200 high school students in each event. Employees of the Avangard Center, teachers of educational institutions, and reserve officers will work with children.

The branch of United Russia [Putin's ruling] party in the Perm region denied the information about the sending of "icons" with the image of the Russian president to mobilized servicemen, claiming that the video was staged.  Earlier, there were reports that mobilized soldiers from the Perm region were allegedly sent to the front "candles of protection," and the Perm diocese also called it a fake.

A Russian trying to avoid being drafted into the army received asylum in Latvia when he appealed through a court hearing. The man went against the refusal of the Latvian Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs to grant him asylum as he did not wish to participate in the war in Ukraine. In court, he proved that, in addition to a negative attitude towards the war in Ukraine, even before the start of the invasion, he had expressed a critical attitude towards the authorities in Russia, had participated in rallies in defense of Alexei Navalny, and then could be subjected to political persecution for his position.