mobilization briefs
April 6

Mobilization in Russia for Apr. 4–5, 2023 CIT volunteer summary 

On April 6, the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] will return to the second reading of a bill on changes in the rules of conscription. We will remind that the legislators want to oblige citizens who are subject to conscription to independently appear in military commissariats [enlistment offices]. The bill has already passed two readings. The return of the document to the second reading indicates that it is likely to be amended and possibly tackle the issue of “electronic” draft notices.

Recently, the legislative assembly of the Chelyabinsk region sent to the State Duma a proposal to introduce a new basis for the termination of criminal cases for crimes of small and medium gravity into the Criminal Procedure Code, the basis being “a change in the situation.” This implies the decision of the suspect, accused, or defendant to go to war. The legislators explain their initiative by the fact that criminals are already involved in service in the Russian Army, so their proposal “corresponds to the state policy in the matters of criminal legislation in the conditions of the special military operation.”

During a meeting of the State Council [upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], Oleg Nikolayev, Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Chuvash Republic [Russia’s constituent republic], made another proposal on the issue of alternative service. He proposed to equate work in defense enterprises for at least five years to alternative service in the army due to a shortage of personnel at the factories. According to him, the current need for personnel in the military industry is 1,772 people [probably meaning his region alone — CIT]. In 2021, Nikolayev proposed to introduce a similar opportunity for graduates of medical colleges, also in connection with their great demand in the civil sector. However, the bill did not pass.

The military commissariats of the Perm region started making phone calls to men under the age of 65, inviting them to become contract soldiers. When men refuse, employees tell them to visit the military commissariat and write a refusal. This trick could be used to once again try to convince them to voluntarily go to war or hand them a mobilization order at the office.

In the Tomsk region, too, recruiting tactics to lure men into contract-based service in the Russian Armed Forces are becoming aggressive. Military job postings have been seen on public channels of municipalities and of the Tomsk city administration, focusing on social benefits and generous wages offered to contract soldiers. In particular, on Apr. 5, the Mayor of the town of Strezhevoy, Valery Denichenko, appealed to local men in a post on his Telegram channel, encouraging them to sign a contract and join the armed forces. The mayor claimed he would help volunteers with completing a medical examination in just two days and offered to pay for the ticket to the collecting station in Tomsk.

In the Leningrad region, contract service recruitment ads are being printed on utility bills, and a military recruitment center was set up in the Ice Palace in Saint Petersburg to operate during a well-attended hockey match. The Wagner Group representatives were noticed in a shopping center in the town of Bratsk, attempting to recruit new fighters, while in Volgograd, a recruitment advert for Wagner appeared on a vinyl banner attached to a fence. In the Sverdlovsk region, black vehicles with the symbols of the Wagner Group were seen in crowded public places with uniformed men besides, enticing local residents to sign a contract and join the depleted Wagner ranks. Mobile recruitment centers seeking soldiers for a “private military company” were noticed in the towns of Verkhnyaya Tura, Krasnouralsk, Revda, Alapayevsk, Rezh, Pokrovskoye, Serov, and Kachkanar. Candidates are being offered attractive salaries, paid leaves, and uniform kits. The owner of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is known to have claimed that he would no longer be recruiting convicts from Russian prisons to fight in the “special military operation.”

In Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic], a propaganda video featuring Tatar volunteer fighters is being spread on social media, as well as an advertisement of the channel of the volunteer battalions titled Alga and Timer. In the video, the soldiers are claiming that “everything goes along well on their positions,” demonstrating their bathing facilities and a warehouse filled with supplies and thanking their fellow countrymen for donated food and medicines.

In the Krasnoyarsk region, this spring’s conscription campaign will target 2,000 men, while in the Irkutsk region, roughly 3,000 men are planned to be called up, which is 500 men more than the number of people conscripted during the previous campaigns. According to the military commissar of the Samara region Alexey Vdovin, 400 draft dodgers were identified in the region.

​Mobilized soldiers are continuously getting killed in the war. Dmitry Kudashev from the Samara region, Mikhail Mazur from the Irkutsk region, Sergey Makushenko and Aleksandr Vinogradsky from the Arkhangelsk region, Albert Davletov from Bashkiria [Russia's constituent republic], Nikolay Absalyamov from Yugra [Russia's federal subject], Roman Tkachenko from Nizhnevartovsk, as well as a father of three from the Zabaykalsky region [Russia’s federal subject] Maxim Ivanov, have been added to the lists of casualties.

Officials at the Bailiff Services of the Republic of Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic] stated that since the beginning of the year, they had received 385 appeals from the military personnel and their families with requests to defer their obligations to repay financial debts. The total debt amounts to 60.2 million rubles [approx. 750,000 USD]. Both regular military personnel and mobilized soldiers, as well as those in service in "other military formations and organizations," can submit a request to freeze their debts.

State Duma member Maxim Ivanov has received an official response from the Investigative Committee regarding non-payments to mobilized soldiers. They confirmed "the reinstatement of the rights to receive monetary compensation for 241 mobilized." According to the deputy, the problem has been almost completely resolved, and over the past two weeks, he has not received a single complaint related to non-payment to the mobilized.

Relatives of MIA persons often do not receive compensation. The Sibir.Realii publication [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] has published the stories of relatives of those mobilized who went missing in the war. According to the law, a missing soldier whose death has not been confirmed shall be considered missing, and his relatives shall receive his pay. In reality, relatives do not receive anything until the body of the fallen is found.

Reports of payout problems by volunteers who went to war are continuously re-emerging. One such example is a man from the Yaroslavl region who signed a contract in Sep. 2022. Since then, his salary has ranged from only 20 to 65 thousand [rubles] per month. According to his wife, their family is already below the poverty line. The Military Investigation Department has initiated an inquiry due to the non-payment of the benefits [promised] by the regional authorities to volunteers from the Zabaykalsky region.

A 35-year-old resident of the Irkutsk region did not want to participate in the war, however, he was mobilized in October, and a draft office threatened him with a criminal case for desertion. On Feb. 21, he called home and said that his company had been sent to Kreminna. The last time he called was Feb. 27. He told his brother that only 32 out of 152 soldiers of his company survived after an attack. The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet told the story of the relatives of the mobilized man, who are trying to find out his fate.

The Vladimir Garrison Military Court rejected the claim of the mobilized resident of the Tula region Aleksey Astapov, who asked to deem his sending to the war in Ukraine illegal due to health problems. His chronic diseases worsened at the front. Нe was evacuated to Ryazan from Ukraine and then sent to Kovrov [Vladimir region]. According to the draftee, he was not examined by doctors during the draft, and his category of fitness was determined according to data back from 2004.

Military courts do not consider a refusal to discharge from military service as a violation of a contract ended before the announcement of mobilization. Thus, the Yaroslavl Garrison Military Court refused to satisfy the claims of two servicemen whose contracts were due to expire in Aug. 2022. The judges refer to the fact that it is now impossible to issue an order to dismiss a serviceman from service, as it would contradict the decree on "partial" mobilization. Recall that in accordance with this decree, all contracts continue to be valid until the end of the “partial” mobilization.

The court in the Krasnodar region found junior sergeant Sergey Lyakh guilty of going AWOL during mobilization and armed conflict. The man was mobilized, but in November, he went AWOL. In December, he was detained by officers of the military commandant's office. However, at the end of December, he went AWOL again and returned only on Jan. 7, 2023. He was sentenced to 3.5 years in a general regime penal colony.

According to Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet], by Apr. 3, military courts all over Russia had already received 708 criminal cases initiated against military men under articles tightened since the start of mobilization. 360 sentences have already been decreed. More than half of the cases are related to going AWOL.

The military police are looking for two mobilized soldiers from the town of Biysk: Aleksandr Tabakaev and Artyom Vdovichenko left their military units independently of each other without informing their command about it. The soldiers were put on the wanted list.

In the Kemerovo region, an arsonist of the relay cabinet on the Ishanovo — Predkombinat railway section was found. The security forces detained a 16-year-old teenager who allegedly admitted that he was paid 5,000 rubles in cryptocurrency for arson.

In the Bryansk region, a mobilized soldier beat a young woman who came to visit him. Reportedly, a 27-year-old man spent all night drinking alcohol with three young women he knew right in the dugout. The girls had come to visit him in a unit located in a village close to the Russian-Ukrainian border in the Bryansk region. In the morning, a conflict arose in the company; the man shot at the ground and beat one of the women. The police are looking into the incident.

In the Moscow region, a criminal case was initiated against a mobilized disabled student who faces up to 10 years in prison for going AWOL. Last October, in the midst of mobilization, 30-year-old disabled group III hearing-impaired Mekhroj Khaydarov was taken to a military commissariat from the street in the town of Lyubertsy and mobilized in one day. His father filed an application for the illegal mobilization of his son to the Prosecutor's Office. After that, Mekhroj was given a referral to undergo a medical examination and was sent to Volgograd to bring his medical record to confirm his disease and disability. Mehroj left and did not return from Volgograd because he was sure that while the issue of illegal mobilization was being considered, he did not need to be in the unit. However, Khaydarov was accused of going AWOL and put on the federal wanted list. In April, he was arrested.

A conscript from Tatarstan is accused of killing his fellow soldier: he fired a Kalashnikov assault rifle, and a bullet hit the head of an 18-year-old serviceman from the Russia’s constituent Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. As a result, the young man died on the spot. The police are investigating the case.

Shell casings and twenty grenades without fuses were found in a waste bin near the Park House shopping center in Otradnoye, Moscow. A passer-by noticed them and called the police. Judging by the video, the grenades were thrown away by an unknown man.

At the end of March, in a chat where aid for soldiers, including those mobilized from the Perm region, is being discussed, another fundraising was announced for the purchase of 2 tons of paraffin for the production of trench candles. It is also planned to collect 5,000 cans.

After a long period of silence, a new video by "State Duma member Vitaly Nalivkin” appeared online, in which he called for raising money for equipment for the military. The creator of the videos about Vitaly Nalivkin, Andrey Klochkov, explained to the Vyorstka media outlet why he went forward with the initiative. According to him, this campaign was only "for defense" to help friends who had been sent to the "special military operation." When asked if he supported the "operation" itself, Klochkov refused to answer.

The Youth Palace in the Russia’s constituent Republic of Mari El has posted an invitation to bid on the state procurement website to purchase a militarized obstacle course for 1 million rubles for the Center for Patriotic Education, which organizes military training for school children, holds patriotic contests, and shows historical films.