mobilization briefs
August 17, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Aug. 15-16, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The State Council of Crimea [pro-Russian legislative assembly created following the annexation] called for the introduction of fines for posting photos and videos of attacks on Russia and the territories under its control by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The fines could reach 30,000 rubles for individuals, 100,000 for municipal or state officials and 300,000 for legal entities. They would be increased further for repeated offenses. Senator Andrey Klishas, who supported the regional initiative, subsequently announced that the Federation Council already drafted a bill prohibiting the publication of photos and videos of military facilities and locations of attacks. According to media reports, such violations would be punished with a fine of up to 500,000 rubles or "a prison term of up to three years in case of recidivism."

The Ministry of Internal Affairs drafted amendments to the law, which would include the gathering of information on the Internet among operational activities for investigations. According to the bill’s explanatory note, detectives need to obtain data from servers in data centers, from cloud repositories and other electronic storage due to an increase of cybercrime in Russia. These amendments would allow security services to access the correspondence of its citizens without a court order, argued lawyer Artem Yablokov. For their part, the legal experts of the "Network Freedoms" Telegram channel told Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] that in all likelihood the legislation is simply catching up with established practices. Security services have always been able to request information access from telecommunication companies, but sometimes faced refusals from legally savvy recipients. However, there will be fewer opportunities for them to decline if a broader formulation is introduced. A detailed analysis of the bill is available on the Setevyye Svobody [Network Freedoms] Telegram channel.

According to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, around 45,000 residents of Moscow are currently involved in the war effort. Among them are 20,000 mobilized soldiers, 20,000 volunteer fighters, and approximately 5,000 professional military personnel. However, just three weeks ago, the mayor stated that there were 30,000 Moscow residents engaged in the conflict, including 20,000 mobilized soldiers and 10,000 volunteers. In today's statement, the mayor also mentioned that over 20 Moscow residents have lost their lives in the construction of defensive structures during the war, and another 100 men have been wounded. Sobyanin added that there are "thousands" of Moscow residents working in the occupied territories. Mediazona is skeptical of the mayor's claims. While according to its calculations, around 28,000 Moscow residents were mobilized, the distribution of losses among regions raises doubts about the figures provided by Sobyanin.

Military personnel from the Samara region will be able to vote in the gubernatorial elections even while being within the combat zones. This decision allegedly was made in response to requests from the servicemen themselves. Similarly, military personnel from the Omsk region will also have the opportunity to vote in the gubernatorial elections. To facilitate this, mobile election commissions will be organized in the territories occupied by Russia.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

The Federal Security Service (FSB) conducted raids in several cities across Russia targeting men who recently acquired Russian citizenship. These men are being registered for military service. Approximately a hundred recent foreign citizens were taken to the draft office in Saint Petersburg. A similar operation took place in Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic]. Those detained will face charges under Article 21.5 of the Administrative Offenses Code and could be fined up to 3000 rubles [$32]. Valery Fadeyev, Chairman of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, explained that migrant men often obtain Russian citizenship but overlook the requirement to register for military service.

The authorities of Saint Petersburg have allocated nearly 180 million rubles [$1,900,000] for advertising contract-based military service in the army in 2023. The Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet has compiled unexpected places where the residents of Saint Petersburg were encouraged to join the Russian Army. The list includes the website of a clinic, a psychiatric hospital chat, a cinema, a library, school and kindergarten social media platforms, and even a beer tent.

A military commissariat [enlistment office] of the Mendeleyevsky district in Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan has promised to pay an additional 500,000 rubles [$5,300] to volunteer fighters who sign contracts to participate in the war with Ukraine by Aug. 18, on top of the standard sign-up bonus of 195,000 rubles [$2,000].

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Artyom Chernykh from Moscow, Aleksey Boldyrev from the Tyumen region, Aleksandr Lodygin from the Volgograd region, Aleksandr Stepanov from the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], Roman Zavalnyi from Crimea. Mobilized individual Aleksandr Rybakov from the Altai region [Russia’s federal subject] died in a traffic accident near a military hospital.

Volunteer fighters from the Perm region who signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense have complained about the absence of the promised Governor’s payments. Previously, volunteer fighters from Karachay-Cherkessia [Russia’s constituent republic] and the Orenburg region also raised similar complaints.

Relatives of Russian soldiers missing in action in Ukraine are unable to receive payments from the government, which itself is not eager to actively search for the missing soldiers. Search efforts are being undertaken by their family members. For instance, Irina Chistyakova, the mother of a conscript from Petrozavodsk, is searching for her son who went missing at the very beginning of the invasion. She's also assisting other mothers from all over Russia in locating their children. Over the past 18 months, according to Chistyakova, she has helped identify around 500 bodies of killed soldiers, with her list containing more than a thousand names. She has already spent over 2 million rubles [over $21,100] from her own savings on the search and even set up a charity fund. Stories about relatives searching for their family members missing in the war with Ukraine are also published by and 72.RU [Irkutsk and Tyumen city online media outlets, respectively].

The commander of a military unit issued a discharge order for a soldier who was officially declared missing in action to avoid paying the family the legally mandated financial support. The order was protested only after a member of the State Duma [the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] raised the issue with the Military Prosecutor's Office.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Krasnoyarsk Garrison Military Court sentenced Junior Sergeant Kirill Prokopenko to seven years in prison for two episodes of going AWOL. In December 2022, Prokopenko went on leave and did not return. He was apprehended by the police at the end of February 2023. During the investigation, Prokopenko was temporarily assigned to a military unit but did not appear there. He was re-arrested only in May.

The Tomsk Garrison Military Court sentenced Sergeant Dmitry Arykov to five years of probation with a three-year probationary period for going AWOL. On Dec. 22, 2022, Arykov failed to appear for duty. He was found by the police four months later.

In Saint Petersburg, two men assaulted a minor on a tram. The assailants claimed to be soldiers returning from Bakhmut.

A protocol for "discrediting the Armed Forces" was drawn up against Elena Kukushkina, a resident of Krasnodar. The reason for the protocol was a video recorded on Aug. 7 in the courtyard of the Panorama residential complex in Krasnodar (more details). Kukushkina considers the protocol against her as a result of the conflict with women who had unlawfully occupied a playground for making camouflage nets and denunciation made by them.

In the Irkutsk region, a 23-year-old resident of Angarsk was arrested by the FSB on suspicion of gathering information for Ukrainian intelligence. He is also suspected of distributing leaflets that "discredit" the Russian Armed Forces. A criminal case has been initiated against the individual.

In the town of Chernyshevsk, Zabaykalsky region, another attempt was made to set fire to a military commissariat. An unidentified man drove up to the building, tried to set it on fire and left after the attempt failed. Police are searching for the suspected arsonist.

Andrey Petrauskas, a 24-year-old from Krasnoyarsk, has been sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony by the Krasnoyarsk Military Court on charges of committing an act of terror. He tried to set fire to a military commissariat in October 2022. During questioning following his arrest, Andrey claimed that he wanted to do a good deed for society.

Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] publishes an interview by the Bereg [Waterfront] cooperative of independent journalists with Egor Balazeykin's mother, Tatiana, about how a child from a non-political family decided to protest against the war and how he is now coping with imprisonment. At the end of February, after his uncle was killed in the war, 16-year-old Egor threw a bottle with a flammable liquid at the wall of the draft office in Kirovsk, Leningrad region. Now the schoolboy is facing terrorism charges. We have repeatedly covered his case in our summaries.


Chinese artist Zhao Hainan will open an exhibition-sale of his paintings at the Zabaikalsky Art Museum on Aug. 17. The proceeds from the sales will be used to support the Russian Armed Forces.

The Golden Hands of an Angel volunteer movement from Vladivostok has sent 15 million rubles [$160,000] worth of gear to the frontline. From the Saratov region, they have sent 2 tons of flour, vehicles, and a mobile bathhouse. Relatives of Primorsky military personnel are asking citizens to donate money to purchase a GAZelle car for 420,000 rubles [$4,500].

More than 6.5 million rubles [$69,000] will be spent in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the improvement of military burial sites. They plan to lay tiles around the graves of those killed in the war with Ukraine, install monuments, steles, and vases.


The Fontanka online media outlet calculated how many first-year students were enrolled inSaint Petersburg universities under quotas for veterans of the war in Ukraine and their children this year and how their exam scores differ from the scores of regular budget-funded students.

From Sept. 1, a new mandatory course called "Fundamentals of Russian Statehood" will be introduced in all universities in Russia. The textbook is based on popular concepts of Russian propaganda, from the danger of same-sex relationships to the harm of Western philosophy to Russian people. The Vyorstka media outlet analyzed the course textbook for students of technical colleges and found out what ideas the authors wanted to put in the heads of Russian youth. At Saint Petersburg State University, students will be reduced in core disciplines at the expense of hours on the history of Russia.


The Novaya Vkladka [New Tab] media outlet published an article about how the life of a parish and the position of the entire Russian Orthodox Church has changed over a year and a half since the beginning of the war. Overall, the Russian Orthodox Church justifies the annexationist war but does not openly support it. Priests who openly condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine lose their church ranks and are subjected to pressure from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has tried to identify the differences between the recently mandated history textbooks for all the comprehensive schools and their older versions and to understand why the new ones attracted so much attention. Journalists have gathered opinions from historians and educators.

Novaya Gazeta [independent Russian newspaper], together with experts, is analyzing the prospects of new forced recruitment of Russians to the war. While authorities are reporting significant numbers of contracted soldiers and volunteer fighters, there is no evidence to support these claims.

After the war began, more and more teenagers have been facing political charges. The law stipulates different conditions for adults and children in terms of serving their sentences, however, this is not the case in reality. The Cherta [Line/Trait] online media outlet reveals how minors serve their time in Russia.