mobilization briefs
April 19

Mobilization in Russia for April 16-18, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack

Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Labor, Social Policy and Veterans' Affairs Yaroslav Nilov suggested to the Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev that facial recognition technology should be used to monitor migrant offenders. To enable identification, registration records on migrant workers maintained by multifunctional public services centers, as well as records from law enforcement databases, should be uploaded into the video surveillance system. As a project pilot region, Nilov suggested Moscow, where video surveillance was adopted early and has been broadly deployed. Going forwards, the project is supposed to be extended to all Russia’s regions where video surveillance is already in place. By the end of 2023, video surveillance had been adopted in 62 regions. According to Nilov, following the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack, the police conducted large-scale raids allegedly revealing more than 6000 violations of immigration law, which led to the deportation of 840 foreign nationals.

In Novosibirsk, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested two men who allegedly facilitated illegal residence to more than 50 migrant workers. A criminal case has been initiated on charges of migrant trafficking.

The Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet assessed the number of illegal immigration cases reviewed by Russian courts in the aftermath of Moscow’s Crocus City Hall attack and concluded that the degree of pressure migrant workers experienced in 2023 remained roughly the same. According to the data provided by courts, in the two weeks following the attack, 854 administrative cases related to violations of immigration law were reviewed. This number is consistent with 719 of similar cases reviewed in the second half of August 2023, 783 cases reviewed in early June 2023 and 838 cases reviewed in the second half of January 2023.

Authorities and Legislation

The Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg has proposed to exempt civilians, who work in a combat zone, from paying tourist taxes. Participants of the war have already been exempted. Additionally, regional lawmakers have decided to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Defense, calling for military personnel to receive teaching education before their discharge from service, so that they could find employment in cadet schools.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Mayor of Nizhny Novgorod Yury Shalabayev announced that residents who enlist at the city’s draft offices will now be entitled to a 1 million rubles [$10,600] sign-up bonus.

Following the recent introduction of amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, investigators have begun regularly informing suspects and defendants about the possibility of concluding a contract with the Ministry of Defense to avoid prosecution.

The Movement of Conscientious Objectors, a human rights organization supporting those who refuse to perform military service, reports that Moscow residents have begun receiving text messages urging them to report to the Unified Military Recruitment Center. The texts claim that the recipients have been served a draft notice, adding that the article on failure to fulfill military registration obligations carries a 30,000 rubles [$320] fine for failure to appear, while draft dodgers face criminal prosecution. The Movement stresses that the notifications sent through the portal are not draft notices and have no legal consequences. Experts specializing in military law and human rights defenders have expressed similar views.

On April 17, law enforcement officers in Saint Petersburg conducted a raid against migrants at one of the city's construction sites. A total of 239 individuals were checked. Of them, 35 foreigners were taken to the police station for subsequent deportation. Additionally, 12 individuals who had not registered for military service were identified. Another raid took place at the Tolmachevo Airport in Novosibirsk. There, law enforcement officers checked over 700 passengers arriving in Novosibirsk from other countries. Some were handed notices for military registration data check-ups, and reports were filed on failure to fulfill military registration obligations. Besides, police checked taxi drivers around the airport. At the end of last year, the regional government announced that 88 "new citizens" had registered for military service, three of whom had signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense.

The former acting Minister of Health of the Irkutsk region, Aleksey Shelekhov, is going to the war as a field surgeon. Local journalist Pavel Stepanov noted that this decision might be related to a criminal case against Shelekhov. Andrey Nizovsky, the head of the administration of the Vsevolozhsky district of the Leningrad region, has also joined the ranks of the Russian Army. He was enlisted as a sergeant in an artillery regiment. It was previously reported that a criminal case for abuse of authority had been initiated against him. Nizovsky did not admit guilt but confirmed that his appearance in the war was linked to his desire to avoid sentencing in his criminal case.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Vitaly Petrochenko and Konstantin Arefyev from the Irkutsk region, Stepan Kusliy from the Kemerovo region, Victor Erlenbach from the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], and Yury Yashin from Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic].

According to a study by BBC News Russian of the obituaries of convicts who joined the war either as part of the Wagner Group or the Ministry of Defense units, it appears that the latter tend to die on average a month sooner than the Wagnerites.

The mother of Yefim Fedyashkin, who was drafted for regular biannual conscription in 2021 and then signed a contract and went missing in the fall of 2022, said that following the respective media publication, she was informed that her son was now listed as a prisoner of war. According to a March post on the Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the News] Telegram channel, at least 12 soldiers have gone missing in action. Journalists have published data on three additional missing soldiers from the 27th brigade by. The wife of one of the soldiers claimed that their unit's command was making no effort to find them.

According to a regional government report, 150 soldiers from the Novosibirsk region are missing in action in the "special military operation" zone. The number of inquiries about missing persons since the beginning of this year has already matched the total number of inquiries made in 2023.

The wife of mobilized disabled soldier Vladimir Frolov has once again contacted members of the Put Domoy [Way Home] Telegram channel. According to her, after she provided the commander of the 5th Motor Rifle Brigade with a referral for her husband to undergo a re-examination, he was forcibly sent to the frontline with threats of cutting off his fingers if he disagreed. Frolov was wounded and did not receive medical assistance for three days. The command doesn’t want to send him to the hospital, and his wife was informed in the unit that her husband is listed as missing.

A mobilized soldier who refused to fight was forcibly sent to Ukraine. Yevgeny Leskov, a 48-year-old from the Primorsky region [Russia’s federal subjects] suffering from several illnesses, has been trying to refuse participation in the war since last year and was even willing to accept a prison sentence, but the Investigative Committee did not see any criminal offense in his actions. On April 15, he and other military personnel were forcibly sent to Ulan-Ude, and on April 19, he and other refuseniks will allegedly be sent to Rostov, and then to Ukraine. According to Leskov's wife, such treatment of mobilized soldiers is associated with the orders of Colonel Chernenko. Earlier, the Astra Telegram Channel detailed the arbitrariness taking place in units in the Primorsky region under Chernenko's command.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

According to Astra, in the occupied part of the Luhansk region, previously convicted 57-year-old military member of the Storm unit of the 6th Motorized Rifle Brigade, Vasily Sazhin, shot two residents of the occupied town of Lysychansk. Sazhin had previously been convicted of robbery, traffic accidents with injuries, and theft.

Yevgeny Anisiforov, a Krasnoyarsk cadet of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, who raped and murdered a 16-year-old female teenager, told the court that he wanted to go to the war to "atone for his guilt." On April 18, the 20-year-old cadet was sentenced to 21 years in prison. In addition, Anisiforov raped another 19-year-old woman and committed a series of thefts. The indictment lists a total of eight articles of the Criminal Code. The Prosecutor's Office of the Krasnoyarsk region noted that under the new law, those who have committed a serious crime against the sexual integrity of minors cannot be sent to the war.

A court in the Primorsky region has sentenced mobilized soldier Dmitry S. to two years and four months in a penal settlement for refusing to execute an order.

In 2023, Russia set a historical record for the number of military personnel convicted of murder—116 persons. Such data was discovered by Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] in the statistics of the Supreme Court. In all of 2023, 98 military personnel were convicted of murder without aggravating factors, and another 18 servicemen were convicted under a more serious article. In 2022, 13 military personnel were convicted under both parts of this article. Cases of careless handling of weapons and military equipment were not included in the statistics.

In addition, in 2023, the number of people convicted of crimes related to sexual violence increased by 8.2% compared to 2022. This is the highest since 2013. In the first year after the start of the full-scale invasion, the growth was 7.7% compared to 2021.

The number of people convicted of treason reached a nine-year high: in 2023, 39 people in Russia were convicted under this article, which is 2.5 times more than in 2022 when 16 people were convicted. The number of people convicted for espionage has increased to 9, most of whom received sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years (in 2022, only one person was convicted under this article). 73 people were convicted of revealing state secrets in 2023, which is 4 more than in 2022, when the previous record was set. Two more people were convicted of secret cooperation with a foreign state. 357 people were convicted under extremism articles, and the number of sentences for rehabilitating Nazism increased from 42 to 73. The number of people convicted of sabotage and terrorism increased ninefold, from 14 to 43 and from 1 to 9, respectively. The number of convictions for justifying terrorism increased from 274 to 281. In addition, over the past two years, courts have fined Russians more than 200 million rubles [$1.21 million] for military "fakes" and "discrediting the Armed Forces."

In 2023, there were no court verdicts imposing real imprisonment under the article on evasion of conscription. In total, last year, decisions were made in 901 cases of draft evasion, which is even less than in 2022. 894 cases were resolved by imposing fines in the total amount of 31.5 million rubles [$334,200].

Two 19-year-old residents of Mordovia [Russia’s constituent republic] were arrested on charges of attempting to go to Ukraine to fight. The accused, allegedly on the orders of Ukrainian handlers, were filming strategic objects in Saransk before planning to leave for Ukraine. A criminal case has been initiated for participation in the activities of a terrorist organization.

In the Bryansk region, the FSB detained a man who, according to law enforcement officers, was passing information about the local draft office to Ukraine. A case has been initiated on charges of terrorism and treason. The FSB also detained two residents of the Tomsk region, suspected of treason. According to law enforcement officers, they were transferring money for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Another case of treason has been initiated against a student from Taganrog, Vladislav Poruchikov, who allegedly intended to join the "Freedom of Russia Legion."

Tractor driver Ivan Fokin was sentenced to nine years in prison on six charges: attempted treason, possession of ammunition and explosives, as well as the manufacture and storage of drugs. The 28-year-old man was detained in June 2023 in the Belgorod region allegedly for being drunk in a public place. Later, he was found to have subscriptions to the "Freedom of Russia Legion" and Ukrainian bloggers, and was forced to confess under beatings that he intended to defect to Ukraine.

The Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced a 76-year-old Ukrainian citizen, Vladimir Korsunov, to five years in a penal settlement on charges of involvement in terrorism. It is claimed that he served in the Aidar battalion, which is declared a terrorist organization in Russia.

The FSB detained a Saint Petersburg resident who allegedly "activated SIM cards in the interests of Ukraine." The operation was conducted in March, with a total of 612 SIM boxes and more than 300 SIM cards used to illegally register social network accounts and electronic wallets seized in 40 regions of Russia. According to the FSB, the police have initiated criminal cases against 30 people for fraud and two others for unauthorized access to computer information.

The Supreme Court of Bashkortostan left unchanged the sentence of local activist and defender of Kushtau, Fail Alsynov—four years in a penal colony, adding a two-and-a-half-year ban on administering websites and participating in mass events.

A Voronezh resident was sentenced to 140 hours of community service for setting fire to a table at a polling station. According to investigators, "unidentified individuals" offered him to return 600,000 rubles ($6,370) that he had transferred to scammers in exchange for setting the fire. The court found the man guilty of obstructing the work of the election commission.


Novaya Gazeta Europe [European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta] spoke with a convict about how recruits were enlisted from Russian penal colonies in the Wagner Group and what motivated other prisoners to go to war.

Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] analyzed the data published by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation for 2023 and prepared material on how Russian courts operate during the years of the full-scale invasion.

The Vot Tak [Like This] media outlet spoke to taxi drivers operating in a combat zone about who transports Russian soldiers and their relatives, how drivers report deserters, the cost of trips under fire, and what other services taxi drivers provide.