mobilization briefs
April 9

Mobilization in Russia for April 7-8, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack

In Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region, a massive raid targeting migrant workers was conducted in an effort to "enforce crime prevention and assess police efficiency," involving almost 500 police officers and over 200 Rosgvardia [the Russian National Guard] members. Armed soldiers, a pickup truck with a shotgun and an armored personnel carrier were posted at the main entrance points of the city. During the raid, more than 4,000 cars were stopped and over 5,000 people, including 1,500 foreigners, were checked. As a result, several hundred administrative offenses, mostly related to migration law, have been revealed. The armored personnel carrier was also spotted by members of the public on Vasilyevsky Island a couple of weeks earlier.

Over the past week, Saint Petersburg courts have processed 266 cases against migrant workers, deciding to expel almost 200 foreigners from Russia. A week earlier, the city courts expelled 418 individuals.

In Novosibirsk, activists of the far-right movement "Russian People's Squad" (affiliated with the Army of Defenders of the Fatherland) conducted what they called a raid against hijabs. Members of the group claim to be targeting illegal migration and covert business activities, reporting migrants to Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, and sweeping markets and shawarma kiosks. Following the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack in Moscow, a pharmacy owner was pressured over a female employee wearing a headscarf. When the woman refused to remove her headscarf, members of the group flooded the pharmacy with negative online reviews. The Center for Support of Public and Civil Initiatives appealed to the head of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Novosibirsk, urging the agency to verify if the "raid" on the pharmacy was legitimate.

Authorities and Legislation

Mikhail Matveyev, member of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] from the Communist Party, stated that, on April 9, he will introduce a bill to punish naturalized individuals, who violate the citizen’s oath, by stripping them of Russian citizenship.

The federal government has published a resolution that aligns the volunteer fighters’ benefits offered by Rosgvardia to those offered by the Ministry of Defense. According to the resolution, volunteer fighters will receive a monthly salary, while the time served will be counted towards both the insurance contribution period and the minimum service period required to become eligible for early retirement benefits. The families of fallen volunteer fighters will also be entitled to subsidies to cover their utility bills.

The legislative assemblies of the Kursk and Leningrad regions have  introduced fines for publishing photos revealing the location of air defense systems and military personnel. The ban also extends to content which facilitates the geolocation of attacks, military infrastructure and "critically important assets." The fines range from 1,000 to 3,000 rubles [$11-$32] for individuals, from 10,000 to 20,000 rubles [$108-$216] for officials, and from 20,000 to 50,000 rubles [$216-$540] for legal entities. For repeat offenses, the fine amount nearly doubles. However, an exception is made for information released by the governor, vice-governor, or the Ministry of Defense.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

The former "Minister of Culture of Crimea", Vera Novoselskaya, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribery, has applied to participate in the war. In 2023, Novoselskaya was convicted of receiving 25 million rubles [$270,300] in exchange for granting favors during the construction of the Crimean Children's Theater.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

The Moscow Regional Court upheld the decision to deny the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement permission to hold a rally in January in support of the return of mobilized soldiers, ruling it as legal due to "COVID restrictions." The plaintiff's side pointed out that these "COVID restrictions" in no way impede the hosting of recreational and cultural mass events in the city. The rally for the return of mobilized soldiers was supposed to take place on Jan. 6, 2024.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Andrey Chekasin, Igor Mokhov and Roman Balakhonov from the Sverdlovsk region, as well as Aleksey Polezhaev from the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject].

According to the Astra Telegram channel, in the Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject], servicemen of the 60th Motorized Rifle Brigade who had refused in writing to participate in combat operations have been detained within their military unit's premises in Sibirtzevo. They are reportedly being forcefully prepared to be sent to the war in Ukraine. A total of 92 mobilized men from the Primorsky region could be dispatched to the war. A mobilized man revealed that the preparation for "deployment to the Special Military Operation zone" was organized by Colonel Chernenko. All selected individuals have been locked up in barracks under guard by the military police. The men are subject to individual "interviews." Relatives of the servicemen have recorded a video address to the authorities, requesting their intervention in the matter. Their previous written appeals have been unsuccessful.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

On April 7, in the Rostov region, war participant and repeatedly convicted Artyom Bukotin, 32, and his acquaintances were detained and placed in a pre-trial detention center. Four men are accused of the brutal murder of two Rostov farmers, one of whom had his ears cut off.

A Saratov court has commenced proceedings in the criminal case against 42-year-old soldier Dmitry Kiryukhin. He faces charges of hooliganism with the use of violence, violence against a representative of authority, and insulting a representative of authority. Upon his return from the war, Kiryukhin conducted a "lesson of courage" at a local school. Shortly after, he brutally assaulted his neighbors. He was only detained several days later, following media coverage of the incident.

On April 4, Dmitry Toropov, a serviceman returning home on leave, was detained at the Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg after telling a Pulkovo employee that he had a grenade with him. After being detained, he confessed that it was "just a joke." No ammunition was found on the serviceman.

The Moscow Garrison Military Court has sentenced a mobilized soldier to five years of probation for going AWOL. According to investigators, the soldier left his unit in January 2023 and only eight months later voluntarily appeared at the military investigation department. The court considered the donation to a charity fund, positive character references and signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense as mitigating factors.

Aleksandr Demidenko, a volunteer from Belgorod who helped Ukrainian refugees return home, has died in a pre-trial detention center. According to the OVD-Info independent human rights project, Demidenko passed away on April 5, although the Federal Penitentiary Service only reported it on April 8. The son of the deceased suspects that his father may have committed suicide. Demidenko's abduction was reported on Oct. 17, 2023. The man was accused of possessing explosives. Law enforcement officers claimed that they had found WWII-era weapons at the volunteer's home. At the end of November 2023, information about a second criminal case for treason appeared. Photographs of Demidenko from the courtroomshowed signs of physical abuse.

In the Vologda region, law enforcement officers have initiated a criminal case on terrorism due to a leaflet threatening to blow up a draft office. According to investigators, early in the morning on March 6, 17-year-old Anton D. placed a leaflet near the city administration building of Vytegra, Vologda regions, threatening to blow up the draft office on the presidential election day. A month later, the Federal Security Service (FSB) charged him with participation in a terrorist organization. Law enforcement claims that the young man is a member of the "Freedom of Russia Legion." The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation (Rosfinmonitoring) has since listed the young man as a terrorist.

Additionally, in the Volgograd region, a 42-year-old local resident was detained for allegedly planning to travel to Ukraine through a third country to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A criminal case of treason has been initiated against the man.

In the Nizhny Novgorod region, the FSB detained a resident of Dzerzhinsk accused of high treason. According to the agency, the man collaborated "with organizations acting against the security of the Russian Federation with the support of foreign intelligence services" and provided information about shipment routes of weapons and military vehicles to Ukraine. As evidence, the FSB presented a video showing a handwritten copy of the US anthem.

In the Khabarovsk region, 58-year-old Oleg Pankov, a local human rights activist, was arrested on charges of discrediting the Armed Forces. He had been assisting relatives of soldiers killed in action to demand death gratuity from the state. Now, these people are left without legal assistance because no one is willing to provide them with legal support.

Children and Educational System

Kazan Federal University is recruiting security guards among its students. The KFU administration has announced the creation of a "Student Security Service" composed of students tasked with "ensuring safety at university events" and "monitoring order in the dormitories."


At a Saint Petersburg college, students and faculty were tasked with weaving camouflage nets during breaks between lectures. Participation was presented as mandatory, with students being explicitly notified that lists of non-participants would be forwarded to the dean’s office.


Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] released an exposé detailing the inner workings of enterprises of the military-industrial complex during wartime, exploring who they are trying to recruit amidst a labor shortage, and explaining why the influx of defense funds triggers inflation and slows down the growth of the Russian economy.