mobilization briefs
April 29

Mobilization in Russia for April 26-28, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack

The Basmanny District Court in Moscow has arrested Jumokhon Kurbonov on terrorism charges. Kurbonov, a 21-year-old citizen of Tajikistan, became the twelfth individual charged in the Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack case, with his detention coming to light on April 26. Before this, Kurbonov had been arrested for 15 days on allegations of minor hooliganism. According to investigators, he provided money for the preparation of the terror attack and supplied the attackers with communication means. RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, has reported that Kurbonov's brother was also detained, although there has been no official confirmation of this.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan has announced that approximately 1,000 citizens of Tajikistan are stranded in Moscow airports. At Vnukovo Airport, 954 citizens of the republic are present "without the provision of proper sanitary conditions," with 322 individuals permitted entry into Russia, and another 306 being prepared for deportation. A similarly difficult situation is reported at Moscow’s Zhukovsky, Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports. The ministry's press release indicates that these restrictions apply exclusively to citizens of Tajikistan. The ministry also advises citizens of the republic "to refrain from traveling to the territory of Russia without acute necessity."

On April 27, a major raid to identify illegal migrants among the staff took place at Sheremetyevo Airport. The transport police found 10 violators, with five individuals charged with misdemeanors for breaching the country's residency regulations.

Starting from May 1, per the decree of Governor Roman Busargin, labor migrants in the Saratov region are prohibited from working in the food service industry, food delivery, taxi services and public transportation. The decree mandates that employers cease employing migrants within three months, by August. The ban will remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2024. Similar restrictions have been previously implemented in several other Russian regions.

Authorities and Legislation

Alexey Zhuravlyov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, has raised the issue of rotation for mobilized soldiers. He suggested a "gradual and extremely cautious" rotation. According to him, this could potentially be achieved without the need for a new wave of mobilization, by replacing mobilized soldiers with volunteer fighters and convicts. Zhuravlyov believes that up to 150,000 people could be attracted through this approach. He also suggested sending back ex-convicts who completed their contracts and returned home to the frontline to fight "until victory." However, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma Andrey Kartapolov criticized Zhuravlyov's proposal, emphasizing that decisions regarding military matters are the responsibility of the General Staff. He too emphasized that a new wave of mobilization is presently unnecessary. Another member of the State Duma Committee on Defense, Viktor Sobolev, echoed Kartapolov's sentiments. According to him, a decisive moment is approaching on the frontline, and there is no need to replace experienced combat personnel. Sobolev suggested that the majority of mobilized soldiers have already signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense, and those with special circumstances, such as having three children or a disabled child, have been demobilized. He emphasized that there is an adequate number of volunteers available, eliminating the need for a new recruitment drive.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

On the night of April 27 to April 28, the federal government published a resolution on the Unified Military Register—the register of Russians subject to military service. The document mandates its launch by Oct. 31, 2024. This will happen in the middle of the fall regular conscription campaign, which usually takes place from Oct. 1 to Dec. 15. Authorities are planning to leverage the register to serve digital draft notices from Nov. 1 onwards, once it achieves operational readiness. Citizens will receive notifications through the Gosuslugi public services portal whenever new records are added to the register. However, these notifications, similar to those sent via the mos.ru portal, will not be draft notices themselves and will have no legal force. Instead, authorities will consider a draft notice served seven days after its publication in the register. Failure to appear will automatically lead to a travel ban. According to the Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel, until Nov. 1, individuals will still be able to leave the country, as there is no information channel linking draft offices with the border control service. Additionally, restrictions imposed on those who fail to report to a draft office within 20 days will include the authorities’ refusal to consider applications for an international passport and registration as a sole entrepreneur or self-employed individual.

Moreover, the resolution introduces a presumption that the information submitted by citizens is incorrect. Draft offices will conduct additional checks each time they discover discrepancies between the information in the register and that submitted by citizens. The resolution directs the Ministry of Defense, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Tax Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service and other agencies to share data among them to help impose restrictions on individuals evading the draft. As a result, the military will gain access to additional information on citizens liable for military duty, such as criminal and administrative cases opened against them, property ownership and their place of residence and domicile. Journalist Farida Rustamova notes that restrictions will be automatically imposed and pushed to the information systems of relevant government agencies. Grigory Sverdlin, head of the Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] anti-war project, told the Agentstvo [Agency] independent media outlet that it will become increasingly difficult to avoid conscription and mobilization once the register becomes operational. However, he expressed skepticism regarding whether the authorities will successfully integrate the databases of various agencies with the register by the announced deadline.

The authorities in the Vladimir region have increased the sign-up bonus for contracts with the Ministry of Defense. The new payout from the region is now 250,000 rubles [$2,720], a significant increase from the previous 100,000 rubles [$1,090]. This adjustment coincides with a decline in the number of individuals willing to sign contracts. According to calculations by Zebra TV [pro-Russian media outlet of the Vladimir region], there were 164 residents dispatched to the war with Ukraine in April 2024. This figure represents a decrease of 18 compared to March and nearly one and a half times fewer than in February.

In Bashkortostan [Russia’s constituent republic], a sign-up bonus of 205,000 rubles [$2,230] has been introduced for foreign citizens who enlist in the Russian Armed Forces at the selection point in Ufa. The corresponding decree issued by Radiy Khabirov, the Governor of Bashkortostan, will come into effect on May 1 and remain valid until Aug. 31. In addition to foreigners, draftees and conscript soldiers who sign a contract during this period are also eligible for the bonus. However, exceptions are made for citizens in the reserve, serving sentences in detention facilities, or signing a contract to serve in units formed in the republic.

Investigators have begun participating in convict recruitment for the war. According to the Kommersant daily newspaper, investigators now offer suspects a "clarification" during and at the conclusion of investigations, informing them that they can potentially evade, stating that they can avoid sentencing by serving on the frontline. However, it is worth noting that such documents will not be distributed to suspects charged with serious crimes such as pedophilia, terrorism, sabotage, treason and others.

A 61-year-old entrepreneur and musician from Vologda, Yevgeny Zhurin, has joined the war against Ukraine. In January, Zhurin was detained on charges of large-scale fraud, which allegedly involved him fraudulently obtaining an apartment from an elderly woman. In the meantime, the former head of the Tyumen State Inspectorate for Road Traffic Safety, Alexandr Selyunin, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for bribery, has already returned from the war.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Ivan Dovidenko, Sergey Kutz and Sergey Shalygin from the Irkutsk region, Yevgeny Ivanov, Erdyni Rinchino and Sergey Krasnopeyev from Russia's constituent Republic of Buryatia, Leonid Semerikov from the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject], Sergey Shirinkin and Alexandr Rerin from the Vladimir region, Andrey Zotov from Saint Petersburg, as well as Pavel Sharykhin from the Kaliningrad region.

According to the Ostorozhno, Novosti Telegram channel, approximately 100 mobilized soldiers are currently being held under the supervision of military police in a military unit in Ussuriysk, Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject], with the goal of forcibly deploying them to Ukraine. A quarter of them were detained for going AWOL, while the reasons for detaining the others remain unknown. A significant number of these mobilized men have previously been injured in combat and are being denied medical assistance. During a meeting with their relatives, which was also conducted under the supervision of military police, Colonel Igor Chernenko stated that everyone is healthy and fit to return to the frontline. There have been multiple reports of attempts to forcibly send refuseniks from military units in the Primorsky region.

The wives of two mobilized soldiers from the Moscow region have reported that their husbands are being forcibly held in an unknown location near Luhansk for 16 days. According to the wives, the two mobilized men were taken by military police, who accused them of murdering a commander, and they have been unable to contact them ever since. However, there has been no official confirmation of this information.

Despite multiple requests, Konstantin Voronchikhin, a 25-year-old mobilized resident of the Tomsk region, has been denied a hardship discharge from the military, as reported by RIA Novosti. Voronchikhin has been seeking discharge from the army to be able to obtain guardianship of his younger brother after their mother died and their father had his parental rights terminated. The authorities of the region urged the Southern Military District to facilitate Voronchikhin’s dismissal, but to no avail. Notably, shortly after the publication, the post featuring Voronchikhin’s story was removed from RIA Novosti’s Telegram channel.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

Since Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Garrison Military Court in the city of Vladimir has received 125 AWOL-related criminal cases. In March 2024 alone, 11 cases based on AWOL charges were brought to court, with additional 7 being added in April. In 2023, the court reviewed a total of 78 AWOL cases, hitting an all-time record in its history. It is worth noting that in 2021, prior to the invasion, this court imposed only two sentences for going AWOL.

The Federal Security Service Department for the Primorsky region has reported the arrest of a local resident suspected of spying for the Ukrainian intelligence services. The suspect allegedly established confidential contact with a member of the "Freedom of Russia Legion." A criminal case has been opened in connection with this matter.

RIA Novosti has reported the arrest of a Moscow State University student from the city of Odesa for "attempting to raise money online for the Armed Forces of Ukraine and calling for strikes on Moscow." According to screenshots published by Ekaterina Mizulina, the detainee's name is Sergey Gulko. He was a sixth-year student at the Faculty of Fundamental Medicine, and other university students reported him.

The Ministry of Defense’s Zvezda TV channel has reported that unknown individuals burned down a Kamov Ka-32 (Helix-C) attack helicopter at the Ostafyevo airport in Moscow on the night of April 27. According to RBC [Russian media group], investigators have initiated a criminal case for a terrorist attack. Earlier, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine reported the helicopter arson.

The Tushinsky District Court of Moscow court has placed Nadezhda Buyanova, a 67-year-old pediatrician charged with spreading "fake news" about the army following a complaint from a soldier's widow, in pre-trial detention. She faces up to 10 years of imprisonment.

Assistance

In the Moscow region, government employees have received messages requesting to take part in fundraising to assist war participants and their families. Employees of various businesses are asked to donate their daily salaries for these purposes.

Children and Educational System

In Russia, students will study literature according to an updated program in the new academic year. Books about repressions and dystopias have been removed from the list of works mandatory for high school students to read. More details can be found in an article by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Minister of Education Sergey Kravtsov has claimed that participants in the war in Ukraine will be prepared for teaching in schools. Training centers will open in all pedagogical universities in Russia.

TV Rain [independent Russian television channel] has found and proven another case of the adoption of a Ukrainian child. Six-year-old Ivan from a Donetsk orphanage was adopted in Russia, separated from his siblings. A Russian woman named Antonina changed his name and surname, despite the child's protests. The boy's 16-year-old sister tried to obtain guardianship over him in court, but the Russian court denied her.

Miscellaneous

Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] in collaboration with The Reckoning Project, which investigates war crimes in Ukraine, has found out that the Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova is involved in the forced deportation not only of children but also of adults who have been declared incapacitated by the court. Her sister, Sofia Lvova-Belova, head of the Kvartal Louie [Louis Quarter] foundation, which is supported by government representatives and entrepreneurs close to the Kremlin, is also involved.

In the village of Novoilinsk in Buryatia, as part of the "Stepped into Immortality" campaign, a portrait of a deceased war participant was placed in the "hall of fame." As discovered by the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet, in January 2018, a man with the same name and surname was sentenced to eight years in a penal colony for the murder of his female partner.

According to the statement of the Governor of the Kursk region Roman Starovoyt, at the United Russia primaries before the upcoming elections in the region, war participants will receive "additional support" in the form of an additional 25% of votes. Similar preferences were introduced earlier in Saint Petersburg and the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject].

In the city of Berezniki, Perm region, people are being recruited as extras for an event featuring war participants from Ukraine. For 3,200 rubles [$35], over the course of five hours, people are required to "actively support the defenders' speeches" and participate in polls.

As reported by Ostorozhno, Novosti, law enforcement officers in Belgorod regularly undergo training for service "under special conditions."

The government of Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent Republic] is searching for air defense veterans to enlist them in the Stalin's Falcons' volunteer battalion. The unit is supposed "to work on a strategically important facility in Tatarstan."

Longreads

Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] has compared the mobilization laws in Russia and Ukraine, focusing on deferments, draft deferral certificates, conscription and exemption from mobilization. Despite sharing certain similarities, they also have important differences.

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has provided details on crimes committed by ex-convicts who were granted a presidential pardon for their participation in the war. Various media outlets covered this topic at least five times in just three weeks of April. Another article from Sibir.Realii is dedicated to "mobilization lists," which include indigenous peoples from Siberia and the Far East. They are coerced into signing contracts with the Ministry of Defense through deceit or threats.

Vazhnyye Istorii has reported on the stories of two Russian soldiers who survived the war but were left disabled.