mobilization briefs
April 5

Mobilization in Russia for April 2-4, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack

As of the morning of April 3, relatives have been handed over the bodies of 84 victims of the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack. According to emergency services, a total of 87 victims had been identified at the Tsaritsyno morgue by that time. The number of children killed in the terrorist attack has increased to six, according to Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova. Additionally, seven children were injured.

The USA had warned Russia about a terrorist attack specifically at Crocus City Hall two weeks before the assault, reports The Washington Post. According to the newspaper's sources, the warning from the US authorities was conveyed on March 6. The WP article notes that Russian authorities took the warning seriously, at least in the initial stages, although they officially claimed that the transmitted warning lacked specific details.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) reported the detention of three more individuals involved in the attack on Crocus City Hall without naming them. As stated, three "natives of Central Asia" (one of whom had Russian citizenship) were detained in Moscow, Omsk, and Yekaterinburg: two of them "transferred money for the purchase of firearms and vehicles used in the terrorist attack," while the third was allegedly involved in recruiting and financing the perpetrators. Furthermore, in Makhachkala, the court ordered the arrest of five individuals linked by the FSB to the terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall. On April 4, three suspects born in 1994, 1998, and 1997 were sent to a pre-trial detention center; two of them were citizens of Tajikistan, and another was a Russian citizen born in Tajikistan. According to the investigation, in February 2024 at the earliest, they illegally acquired weapons and ammunition, which they transported and stored at their place of residence in Kaspiysk. On April 3, two citizens of Tajikistan were arrested on similar charges. The FSB claimed that the detainees were preparing a terrorist attack in Kaspiysk and were connected to the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall.

The Moscow City Court rejected the appeal against the arrest of Isroil Islomov—the owner of the vehicle in which the attackers arrived at Crocus City Hall. The hearing was held behind closed doors. At the same time, Mansur Soltaev, Commissioner for Human Rights in Chechnya [Russia's constituent republic], stated that the detention of Askhab Uspanov was not related to the act of terror at Crocus City Hall—he was detained several hours before the attack, and his death in a Moscow police station was allegedly caused by suicide. The Baza Telegram channel, which is associated with law enforcement agencies, claims that Uspanov was detained at 16:50. After the detention, he was taken to the police station in the Moskvorechye-Saburovo district, where he was placed in a detention facility. An hour and a half later, at 18:36, Uspanov was already dead. An investigation into the circumstances of his death has been launched by the Investigative Committee.

Law enforcement officers conducted anti-immigrant raids in almost 80% of Russia's regions, as calculated by the Agentstvo [Agency] independent media outlet. As a result, at least 161 criminal cases and 4,400 administrative cases have been initiated, and it has been decided to deport more than 1,700 foreigners, with over 300 people receiving draft notices. Most foreigners were deported from Saint Petersburg (418) and Moscow (403). Meanwhile, as Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] notes, in the week after the act of terror, Russian courts received a record number of cases on violations of the rules of stay in Russia by foreigners. The absolute majority of cases, both before and now, are considered under parts of these articles that prescribe mandatory deportation. However, the same court data show that mass deportations have always taken place in Russia. The 7x7 online outlet talked to human rights activists about the impact of the act of terror on the lives of migrants from Central Asia and Russian attitudes towards them.

Authorities and Legislation

Rustam Minnikhanov, Head of Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan, has stated that "no one will defend" the region’s residents and has called on local businesses to take their own defensive measures against drone attacks. According to him, the "anti-missile defense is busy with other tasks." Minnikhanov’s statement came after UAVs hit the Alabuga special economic zone, which hosts a facility manufacturing the Shahed-136 (Geran-2) loitering munition, and an oil refinery in Nizhnekamsk on April 2. For its part, the administration of the Alabuga Polytech College, whose students were injured in the attack, is attempting to restore a positive media narrative following the events. They published a video featuring a young Kenyan woman, who says she studies there and works in a cafe. For her, the attacks were an intimidation attempt that failed. "Alabuga is a strong place and we will get through this," she added. Meanwhile, students wishing to leave the college early must terminate their contract and pay a tuition recovery fee of hundreds of thousands of rubles [thousands of US dollars].

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced plans to reduce the tax burden on participants of the war and exempt them from property taxes.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Russia's Defense Ministry has praised the growing number of men signing contracts to join the armed forces since the attack on Moscow’s Crocus City Hall, reportedly driven by the desire "to avenge the victims." The ministry reported that about 16,000 men have signed contracts in the past 10 days alone, with up to 1,700 new volunteer fighters coming to recruitment points across Russia every day. In total, the ministry claimed that more than 100,000 people have signed contracts with the armed forces so far this year. The ministry also published the recruitment statistics for a few specific regions. Based on the statement issued by the ministry, Agentstvo estimates that the number of soldiers enrolling per day in 2024 has decreased by roughly 30% compared to last year. On average, about 1,087 people are signing a contract each day in 2024, while in 2023, the total number of recruited soldiers reached "almost 540,000," according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the end of February. Thus, the daily inflow of new recruits in 2023 could be estimated at 1,479.

Veniamin Kondratyev, Governor of the Krasnodar region, announced that the sign-up bonus for new soldiers enlisting under a contract with the Ministry of Defense has doubled, rising from 500,000 [$5,400] to one million rubles [$10,800]. Just a day earlier, the sign-up bonus was similarly raised in the neighboring Rostov region. In both regions, the benefit is reserved for men signing up for a contract on or after April 1, 2024.

Roman Starovoyt,Governor of the Kursk region, discussed the possibility of signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense for members of voluntary people's squads during a meeting with representatives of the General Staff. According to Starovoyt, until now, the members of the squads did not have a clear legal status. Now, however, they will be able to join the "mobilization human reserve" and receive the same social guarantees as military personnel. Starovoyt, who heads the people's squad of the Kursk region, announced that he had already signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense.

In the city of Yekaterinburg, men with acquired Russian citizenship were handed draft notices at the queue to the local State Inspectorate for Road Traffic Safety office. Dozens of people had come there to exchange their driving licenses, as per the new law stating that citizens who have acquired Russian citizenship must replace their foreign licenses with Russian ones starting from April 1. According to the E1.RU portal, the men in the queue were served draft notices to report to the draft office the next day. A large-scale raid was also conducted in the Samara region, where over 30 migrants were reportedly detained, with another eight sent to the draft office. Other raids in search of "draft dodging migrants" took place in Tatarstan (where 45 people who failed to report for military registration were detained), the Sverdlovsk region (where seven draft dodgers were found), and the city of Tver. In the Ryazan region, a 23-year-old native of Tajikistan was stripped of his acquired citizenship for failing to report to the draft office upon receiving a draft notice for military service.

Russian regions continue voicing their plans for regular conscription. The Krasnodar region intends to conscript 6,500 individuals. The Kurgan region is planning to summon 4,000 young men to its draft offices and conscript around 1,000 of them. Authorities in the Vladimir region are planning to conscript 1,700 men, which is 400 more than during the fall of 2023. In June 2023, Aleksandr Avdeyev, Governor of the Vladimir region, signed a decree promising 100,000 rubles [$1,080] to conscripts who sign a contract to be dispatched to the frontline. According to the region’s military commissar, around 20% of conscripts entered into such contracts.

Lawyers working for the Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel point out that draft offices are allowed to send draft notices to actively enrolled college students only for "a data check-up." It is against the law to involve students who are eligible for military deferments in any draft-related activities. A student may only undergo a medical examination only on a voluntary basis.

The Perm 36,6 Telegram channel has reported that residents of Perm have started receiving draft notices instructing them to report to a military commissariat [enlistment office] to "receive a mobilization order and perform a data check-up." The notices are also being served to IT professionals who had previously been granted a draft deferral.

In the village of Novosyolovka, Rostov region, schoolchildren have attended a legal awareness event where they were informed about the basic rules of regular conscription and contract-based military service. At the end of the event, they received promotional brochures for contract service, which promised "victory" and "payments starting from 695,000 rubles [$7,530]" upon signing a contract.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Maksim Brazhnikov and Aleksey Tsepelev from the Sverdlovsk region, Pavel Politov from the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject], Aleksey Ivanov from Russia's constituent republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, as well as Mikhail Zhuravlyov from Russia's constituent Republic of North Ossetia–Alania.

In Petrozavodsk, a funeral was held for 19-year-old conscript soldier Kirill Chistyakov, who was killed in the war with Ukraine in the spring of 2022. His mother, Irina Chistyakova, searched for her son's body for two years, in July and December 2022, she petitioned to the presidential administration demanding the search for the missing in action and the exhumation of the bodies of the killed, but received no response. In the fall of 2023, after numerous appeals by Chistyakova to various authorities and media, the Ministry of Defense changed Kirill's status to a prisoner of war. It was not until March 2024 that DNA test results confirmed his death.

The military police arrested a contract soldier right in the courtroom. The man had volunteered for the war and was suing the command for not compensating for injuries sustained during military service. However, during the hearing, he was arrested for going AWOL. He is currently in a military unit, with criminal charges pending against him.

On April 4, a Perm resident conducted a one-person picket in front of the Legislative Assembly building of the Perm region, demanding the return of mobilized soldiers home. After 20 minutes, she was detained and held in a police station for two hours. She was then released with a protocol citing discrediting of the Russian Armed Forces.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Supreme Court of Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic] has sentenced Roman Razuvaev, a previously convicted war participant, to 16 years in a maximum security penal colony for murder with extreme brutality. While drinking alcohol, Razuvaev got into an argument with a drinking companion about combat operations in a country whose name was redacted from the court's decision. Razuvaev assaulted his opponent, then doused him with gasoline and set him on fire. The victim died at a hospital. Razuvaev partially pleaded guilty, stating that he set his companion on fire accidentally. The soldier had been previously convicted three times. According to the latest verdict in August 2023, he received a cumulative sentence of two years and three months in a penal settlement.

In the Rostov region, a court has sentenced contract soldier Danis Vakhitov to 11 years in a maximum security penal colony for assaulting his commander and inflicting grievous bodily harm. According to the verdict, in August 2023, the commander instructed Vakhitov to participate in the improvement of the military unit's territory and handed him a shovel. Vakhitov threw it away and rudely refused. In response to the remark, he stabbed the commander in the abdomen with a knife, causing damage to his internal organs.

The Zabaykalsky region court sentenced serviceman Shirhan Magamedaliyev to 2 years and 3 months in a penal settlement for failure to execute commander’s orders during combat operations.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) detained three teenagers in Ufa on suspicion of attempted sabotage. They allegedly tried to set fire to a communication facility.

Unknown individuals blew up a power substation near Saint Petersburg on the night of April 3. According to Baza, 12,000 people were left without electricity as a result. The electric power supply was restored by the next morning. Upon arrival at the scene, law enforcement officers found two damaged transformers. A criminal case of sabotage has been initiated, and the perpetrator is being sought.

Appellate courts have upheld the sentences of minors Yegor Balazeykin, convicted of terrorism (6 years in a juvenile detention center), and Kevin Lik, convicted of treason (4 years in a penal colony). Balazeykin’s situation remains difficult: despite being recognized as disabled due to autoimmune hepatitis, he has been unable to have his sentence commuted.


The Omsk Humanitarian Aid Group has opened a school for assembling kamikaze drones equipped with explosives. According to the organizers, they plan to dispatch 30 such drones, each "capable of carrying up to 4 kg," to the front lines. Meanwhile, students at a college in the Yaroslavl region are assembling tactical first aid-kits for Russian soldiers.

Children and Educational System

The Vyorstka media outlet and Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] have released a joint investigation revealing that at least 285 children from the occupied territories of the Donbas have ended up in the all-Russian database for orphaned children. These children were not placed in Russian foster families within the first six months of the war, but were instead sent to orphanages, boarding schools, and colleges across different regions of Russia. The first profiles of these children appeared in the all-Russian orphan database in October 2022, immediately after the "referendums" in the occupied territories. Currently, at least 187 children from this group still remain in Russia's orphanage system.