A bill on free legal assistance to the "special military operation" combatants and their family members has passed its first reading in the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia]. The document was submitted to the parliament by a group of senators and Duma members headed by First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council [upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] Andrey Turchak.
The State Duma administrative department has ordered a study on improving "legal support for enhancing the prestige of military service and the effectiveness of military-patriotic activities." The Vyorstka media outlet has found such a tender on the public procurement portal. The authorities note that at the moment, Russian youths have formed a negative attitude towards military service. Based on the results of the study, recommendations for the State Duma on changing legislation in this area should be developed. The contract value is 5 million rubles [around $60 thousand]. Meanwhile, since the beginning of March, 45 million rubles have been allocated for war-related studies.
The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia has proposed to exempt contractors and customers of state defense orders from the need to notify the FAS of price increases for materials and services. Now such notices are required to avoid artificial price increases. As stated in the explanatory note of the bill, the FAS intends to reduce the "regulatory and administrative burden on enterprises of the defense industry."
Representative of the Western Military District Colonel Igor Golovach was interviewed about the spring conscription campaign. The rise in conscripts, according to him, is due to the presidential decree on increasing the number of servicemen in the Armed Forces. He also said that about 50,000 recruits will be conscripted in the Western Military District (last fall the District planned to call up 30,000 conscripts). In St. Petersburg, about 3,000 people will be called up, while in the Leningrad Region about 1,700. Golovach says that the Western Military District does not plan to send out electronic draft notices yet, but this may change.
Regional military commissariats [enlistment offices] continue to report on the number of recruits planned to be called up this spring. In the Yaroslavl region, more than 1,500 residents will be called up, which is almost two and a half times more than in the fall of 2022. In the Krasnodar region, more than 7,000 people will be conscripted. The military commissar of the region once again assured the residents that conscripts will not be sent to the "special operation zone." Governor of Krasnodar region Veniamin Kondratyev stated that "during this spring campaign there is a possibility of receiving notifications to report to a military commissariat through the Portal of Public Services (Gosuslugi)."
The Perm 36,6 Telegram channel reports that the administrations of Motovilikhinsky and Ordzhonikidzevsky districts of Perm issued orders establishing working groups that will help recruit contract servicemen. In Rostov, military commissariats call men and persistently invite them to come to the commissariat for a "military register check up."
More evidence is emerging of an aggressive recruitment campaign being underway in Moscow, seeking contract soldiers to replenish Russian troops. Thus, according to the Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the news] Telegram channel, the city administration requests cafe owners to place adverts encouraging men to enlist in the army in their display windows. The VChK-OGPU Telegram channel reports that state-funded organizations distribute booklets containing terms and conditions of contract-based military service among their employees. The campaign is in full swing in the city streets as well. Promotional booklets are being handed out from pop-up kiosks, dropped into mailboxes, and put on display in entrance areas of apartment blocks. However, all this propaganda does not seem to spark much interest in muscovites. Makeshift information points have also been seen in Bashkortostan [Russia’s constituent republic].
In the city of Khanty-Mansiysk, letters from the Wagner Group are being delivered to residents’ mailboxes, inviting new recruits to serve in the “special military operation” zone. Billboards urging local men to join the mercenaries have been spotted in Samara and Yekaterinburg. Meanwhile, Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and owner of the Wagner Group] officially confirmed the launch of new mobile recruitment centers across Russia.
Last September, a member of the Novosibirsk Legislative Assembly claimed his intention to go to the war in Ukraine as a volunteer fighter but still has not met his pledge.
The Ministry of Defense demonstrated the preparation of assault units from the Western Military District.
Mobilized soldiers continue to be killed in the war. The list of casualties now includes Ilya Kalinin from Khakassia [Russia’s constituent republic], Anton Smirnov and Sergey Osenniy from the Yaroslavl region, Vyacheslav Zaryanov from the Orenburg region, Nikolai Voloshchenko from the Arkhangelsk region, Aleksey Stoletov from the Rostov region, Sergey Rakcheev from the Lipetsk region, Andrey Sidorov from the Samara region, as well as Maxim Vinokurov, Sergey Kolodiy, and Viktor Goncharenko from the Krasnoyarsk region.
Journalists from Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, were able to confirm the deaths of 19,688 Russian soldiers, of which 1,783 were mobilized soldiers. In one week, 957 names were added to the death toll, including 111 mobilized soldiers.
A court in the Murmansk region sentenced an officer to 2 years and 5 months in a penal colony settlement for refusing to participate in military actions. Senior Lieutenant Dmitry Vasilets went to Ukraine in Feb. 2022 and spent five months there. According to him, he spent all this time in the headquarters and never shot at a person. After his vacation ended in July last year, Vasilets refused to return to the combat zone. This case became one of the first initiated under the article on failure to obey orders.
Draftees keep getting prison sentences for going AWOL. This time, a court handed down a five-and-a-half-year sentence for leaving a military unit to a 34-year-old Novocherkassk draftee. The man left the unit in Oct. 2022 and only reported back in Feb. 2023. In his own words, the man did not have the motive to evade military service, but neither did he have a proper excuse for leaving the unit. His attorneys are planning to appeal to reduce the sentence.
Sergeant Minor Chinghis Khomushku from the Khakassia [Russian constituent] Republic, who, under the influence of alcohol, beat up a local resident and shot him with a traumatic pistol, got off with a suspended sentence. For causing severe bodily harm, the Abakan Garrison Court sentenced him to three and a half years of probation.
The Novosibirsk Garrison Military Court issued a Tuva draftee who was found guilty of negligent homicide a six-month suspended sentence with a one-year probationary period “during which the convict has to demonstrate through his behavior that he changed his ways.”
In Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic], a contract soldier stole two bulletproof vests and sold them to a draftee. According to the documents in the case, the soldier turned himself in and admitted his guilt. The court estimated the Ministry of Defence’s loss at 30 thousand rubles and sentenced the accused to a 100 thousand ruble fine for fraud.
The prosecution requested 19 years in a penal colony for Roman Nasryev and Aleksey Nuriev, who, in Oct. 2022, set fire to the Bakal town administration building in the Chelyabinsk region where an office that kept military records had been located. Upon detention, they were charged under the article on “property destruction or damage,” but once the Federal Security Service took over their case, the charges were upgraded to committing “an act of terror.” During the court hearing, Nasryev stated that with his action, he wanted to express his disagreement with the mobilization campaign.
Mediazona recounted the story of Mekhroj Khaydarov, a deaf man, in detail: passing by the military commissariat [enlistment office] in the town of Lyubertsy, he caught the eye of a policeman, was made to sign documents, the contents of which he did not understand, at the dictation of military officers and on the same evening ended up in a unit near Naro-Fominsk, and later — under investigation for going AWOL.
28 secret and top-secret documents related to mobilization and action plans in wartime have gone missing from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Ulyanovsk region. All of them were connected with mobilization and action plans in wartime conditions, including an action plan in case of "increasing threats of aggression against the Russian Federation before the announcement of mobilization" "plan for the transfer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to work in wartime conditions" and others.
In the Ural region, the prosecutor's office is threatening the founder of a homeless shelter, who has been giving sanctuary to conscripts unwilling to participate in the war since the beginning of mobilization, with fines and actual terms of imprisonment. The man claims that these threats do not frighten him and signs the protocols of regular interrogations without even reading them. Besides, he has denied rumors about the closure of the shelter and his arrest.
The Re: Russia project conducted a study of judicial practice in Russia on “anti-war” articles regarding the spreading of “fake” or “discrediting” information and came to the conclusion that there are more and more sentences on them, and the terms are getting longer. So, for the nine months of 2022, 59 penalties were handed down, and for the period from December 2022 to March 2023 (four months) — already 65. You can study the statistics of repression in more detail in the article.
The Ministry of Health of Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] handed over four ambulances to the front. At the same time, drivers are forced to purchase spare parts at their own expense for the ambulance fleet in Cheboksary [the capital of Chuvashia] and even recorded a video message to the regional authorities earlier. Meanwhile, on receipts for payment of housing and communal services in Arkhangelsk, a QR code was placed with a proposal to support military personnel and their families.
In Khanty-Mansiysk [the administrative center of the Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region], public figures from the All-Russia People's Front [coalition of political parties and nongovernmental organizations in Russia founded by Vladimir Putin in 2011] collected more than two million rubles and bought equipment for military personnel from their region. It also became known that in Khanty-Mansiysk, they began to produce drones for direct combat. According to the head of the organization, who wished to remain anonymous, the main components for drones are ordered in China. Now the region's authorities are trying to help the organization in reaching an industrial scale.