President Putin signed a decree to create a support fund called "Defenders of Fatherland" for participants of the "special military operation." The organization will distribute assistance to combatants, military servicemen from the "LPR" and "DPR", and their families. The money will be delivered in the form of grants from the federal budget. The decree also notes that the fund will aid veterans of the war in Ukraine and the families of killed Russian soldiers. Anna Tsivilyova, the wife of the Governor of the Kemerovo region, will become the fund's chairman. According to the investigation by Agenstvo [The Agency, Russian independent investigative media project], she [Anna Tsivilyova] turned out to be Putin's cousin.
Also, Putin signed a Federal Law "On Amendments to Article 11 of the Federal Law "On Compulsory Social Insurance against Occupational Accidents and Occupational Diseases," according to which the time spent by volunteer fighters at the “special military operation” will be counted towards the length of service. He also signed the law which makes it possible to apply for marriage separately. To proceed with the process, one must get a notarized application of the future spouse who can't be present in person at the civil registry office. In the absence of a notary public, a head physician of a hospital or a commander of a military unit can act as a notary. The application can also be submitted via the Gosuslugi [Public Services] portal.
The working group on the "special military operation" submitted a bill to the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], acceptance of which will prohibit the termination of fixed-term employment contracts with mobilized servicemen and volunteer fighters while they are in service at the "special military operation." At the same time, the bill on including a human rights commissioner and representatives of political parties in the composition of conscription and mobilization commissions was proposed for rejection today by the State Duma Defense Committee.
Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet], citing the Financial Times, stated that the FSB [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation] started confiscating passports from officials and employees of state-owned companies. The severity of restrictions on foreign travel is determined only by the FSB officers assigned to oversee a particular organization. Russian President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the tightening of restrictions on travel abroad: "In some cases, they [restrictions] are formalized; in others, they will depend on specific decisions on specific individuals."
The Ministry of Defense has stopped publishing data on military disability or survivorship pensions. This data could show the scale of Russian losses in Ukraine in 2022. Information about how many people received such benefits in 2022 was supposed to be posted on the official website of the Federal Statistics Service on Apr. 2, but the release date was shifted to April 2024. The agency did not respond to journalists' requests. It is worth noting that the Ministry of Defense has not reported on losses in Ukraine for more than seven months.
After the spring conscription campaign started, many regional military commissars [enlistment officers] made statements on this topic. A statement by the military commissar of the Vladimir region Yuriy Gusarov sparked a backlash. He reportedly claimed that there will be no draft notices in paper; young men of conscription age will receive all necessary notifications via the Gosuslugi portal or from their educational organizations or employers. It was later established by the Sota media outlet that the military commissar's statement caused confusion in the media. On Mar. 31, Gusarov spoke at a regional government meeting, as reported by the Vladimirskie Vedomosti publication, which quoted Gusarov. However, words about the distribution of draft notices via the Gosulsugi portal instead of mailing paper copies were not included in the quote's text, and it belonged to the author of the article. The same day, the Vladimir regional administration posted parts of the article on its Telegram channel, attributing the words to the military commissar. State Duma member from the Vladimir Region Alexey Govyrin [from Putin's ruling United Russia party] denied that conscription notices would be delivered through the Gosuslugi portal.
According to the Gorizontalnaya Rossiya [Horizontal Russia] Telegram channel, military commissars of the Tula and Rostov regions announced that they won’t be issuing electronic conscription notices in 2023. The Moscow military commissariat stated the same. However, according to the Rostov region military commissar Igor Yegorov, the State Duma is considering amendments to the law that would provide the possibility of distributing conscription notices through the web.
As part of their speeches, the military commissars also announced plans for spring conscription. Thus, in the previously mentioned Vladimir region, there is a plan to conscript more than 1.5 thousand residents. The Sverdlovsk region intends to beat their own last year’s numbers by 500, pushing the total number of region conscripts to over 4000. The government of the Tyumen region reported that, in comparison with the same period of previous years, the number of conscripts remained the same — 1,700 people. The press service of the Eastern Military District stated that over 1,800 residents of the Primorsky region will be called up for military service this spring. The Central Military District reported 4,000 soldiers increase in the spring conscription target in comparison to the last year. There are approximately 57,000 residents of 28 constituent entities of the Russian Federation forming the Central Military District being subject to conscription and dispatch to military bases.
On the Moscow City Hall website, it is now possible to submit an online application to serve under a contract. Previously, the site only allowed users to sign up as volunteer fighters. Additionally, the Moscow City Hall has registered a separate portal detailing how to join the Russian Army on a contractual basis. Both Russian citizens and foreigners are eligible to serve in the military.
Billboards advertising enrollment in the Russian Special Forces University in the Chechen Republic [Russia’s constituent republic] appeared in Novosibirsk.
Groza [Thunderstorm, Russian independent student-run media outlet] published a letter to the rector of Kazan Federal University requesting early exams for graduates — before Jun. 15. The letter cites the Federal Law on Military Duty and the timeline for the spring regular conscription. The media outlet does not disclose who sent the letter. The dean's office has begun sending students lists of those required to take early exams.
The Meduza Russian independent media outlet received a "Guide for Servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces Participating in the Special Military Operation," distributed to Russian soldiers. Its authors describe the retreat from Kherson as "shameful" and call for a return to Stalin's methods and means of warfare. The Western Military District issued the guide in 2022. The majority of the document is devoted to the ideological justification of the war.
Mobilized soldiers continue to be killed in the war. The list of casualties now includes Vladimir Emelyanov from the Kursk region, Stepan Vedeneev from the Krasnoyarsk region, Ivan Sychyov from the Novosibirsk region, Roman Durnitsyn from the Perm region, and Aleksandr Galakhov from the Yaroslavl region.
According to a report from the Mobilizatsiyaion [Mobilization] Telegram channel, residents of the Belgorod region who were mobilized to Kursk military unit 29303 and trained as communication operators, drivers, and artillerymen, have been sent to Avdiivka. There, they were placed under the command of officers from the “DPR” who sent them on unprepared assaults, resulting in casualties among the mobilized. The soldiers refuse to participate in further assaults and try to flee, but unidentified individuals without shoulder straps and identification marks threaten them with execution and demand that they continue to attack.
It should be noted that relatives of mobilized soldiers confirmed the above mentioned information and asked the Governor of the Belgorod region Vyacheslav Gladkov in the comments under the message in the VKontakte social network about sending aid to mobilized soldiers from the region located near Svatove to sort out the situation.
The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet published additional details of the story of a 29-year-old mobilized soldier from the Irkutsk region, who stopped getting in touch after Feb. 20. Since that time, his sister has been unsuccessfully trying to find out the fate of her brother. A comrade of the mobilized soldier claimed that he saw a grenade explode next to the man. He was injured in the stomach, fell, and when his fellow soldiers tried to help him, there was no more pulse. According to the sister, the body was never taken out of the battlefield, and he is still not listed as killed. The real name of the mobilized soldier was not disclosed.
After the funeral, the widow of Maksim Zakharchenko, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia from the town of Svirsk, who was killed in the war, claimed that her husband had been purposefully included in the lists of those mobilized "so that he would no longer annoy the mayor." In his Telegram channel, Zakharchenko talked about the existing corruption schemes in the town. The mayor of Svirsk, Vladimir Ornoev, told the Lyudi Baikala media outlet that he would "refrain from saying bad things" about the deceased.
Tyumen region soldiers serving in the Shtorm [Storm] unit of the 72nd Brigade are asking their relatives and friends to chip in for an armored car for transporting the wounded. In a draftee chat, volunteers want to collect 450 thousand rubles by Apr. 11 and deliver the vehicle to the front themselves. At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defense shows footage where a service member from Yugra [Khanty-Mansi autonomous region, Russia’s federal subject] who identifies himself as a Shtorm unit sergeant major gives viewers a tour of his unit’s encampment.
Human Rights Commissioner of the Kurgan region Boris Shalyutin prepared an annual summary report of his work. The number of petitions he received grew by almost 70%. Among the petitioners, many were draftees whose main complaints were related to being assigned into incorrect fitness to serve categories by medical commissions in draft offices. Shalyutin managed to annul the mobilization of a single father of a 16-year-old daughter even though the decision to draft him had not contradicted the mobilization law.
For several months now, combat preparedness classes are being offered in regions across Russia. According to the organizers, their aim is to teach volunteers and potential draftees combat skills and the basics of field medicine. A correspondent of the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet, attended a tactical medicine class run by the Rokot organization. The attendees are expected to purchase all the necessary equipment and medicines themselves.
The Govorit NeMoskva [Not Moscow Speaking] Telegram channel collected accounts of local authorities “assisting” draftees’ families. For example, a mother of one Kostroma draftee, left alone in a private house with stove heating, has received firewood that she asked for in December only recently, once the warm weather had already established in the region.
The administration of Belgorod requires local entrepreneurs to equip their territories and facilities with shelters for staff within three days and to put sandbags and concrete blocks around the buildings. These measures are necessary to protect against Ukrainian strikes.
Head of the city of Raduzhny (Khanty-Mansi autonomous region Natalya Gulina initiated a voluntary fundraising for the needs of the participants of the "special military operation" among employees of state institutions. In total, they managed to raise over 500 thousand rubles to be spent on the purchase of the necessary equipment for Russian servicemen.
In the town of Revda, Sverdlovsk region, volunteers collected 18,000 rubles to make 60 chevrons with Cheburashka [a character in the Soviet children's literature] wearing military uniform. The organizers of the action claim that they raise the morale of Russian soldiers in this way.
In Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic], children in an orphanage were involved in sewing uniforms for the Russian servicemen taking part in the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, in the village of Lesnoy, Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region [federal subject of Russia], women knit socks for mobilized soldiers in the local library.
In the Oduvanchik [Dandelion] kindergarten in Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic], the "Hall of Military Glory" with photographs of those killed in the war in Ukraine was solemnly opened. Kindergarteners marched with Russian flags to the song “Vpered, Rossiya!” [Go ahead, Russia!] by Oleg Gazmanov and laid flowers.
A school in one of the districts of Rostov-on-Don refused to accept applications from local residents to enroll their children in first grade. It turned out that all places were already occupied by beneficiaries, including children of security forces and participants in the war in Ukraine. Parents were asked to apply to schools in other districts.