mobilization briefs
August 26, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Aug. 24–25, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which requires volunteer fighters and members of territorial defense forces to take an oath to the Russian Federation. The decree applies additionally to employees of state enterprises, established by regional authorities to supply their territorial defense forces with weapons.

Furthermore, Putin decreed the formation of territorial defense forces in the four regions annexed last year. Concurrently, the heads of the eight regions with a "medium response level" (Crimea, Sevastopol, the Krasnodar, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk and Rostov regions) can now recruit volunteers to carry out defense activities. Finally, operations control centers will now be formed in these regions, tasked with authorizing the use of their personnel and equipment. Each such center will incorporate representatives of Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia], the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Defense. All personnel and equipment will be subordinated to a representative of the Ministry of Defense.

In a third decree, Putin extended social benefits to the employees of the special state unitary enterprises [type of a business entity], often referred to as regional "private military companies," which were authorized by a previous decree. These organizations have the right to store and distribute military firearms and ammunition to their employees. The new decree guarantees compensation of 5 million rubles [$53,000] in case of death of an employee and 3 million rubles [$32,000] in case of their injury, similar to members of so-called "volunteer units."

The federal government drafted a resolution, which would extend the application of the law "On Veterans" to prosecutors, police officers and other law enforcement personnel, operating close to the frontline or in adjacent regions.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Activists from the Free Yakutia foundation claim that the authorities of Russia’s constituent Republic of Yakutia are preparing for a new mobilization call immediately after the September elections, as the volunteer recruitment pace does not satisfy Moscow. Currently there is covert mobilization ongoing in the region: businesses are hiring new employees to send them directly to draft offices, and government employees are being encouraged to persuade acquaintances to go to war as "volunteer fighters."

Reports about preparations for compulsory deployment to the war zone are also coming from activists in other Far Eastern regions: Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic], the Jewish Autonomous region, the Primorsky region, and the Irkutsk region.

In the Belgorod region, former police officers have started receiving "special instructions." When a special directive is announced, the recipients are required to appear at one of the two addresses specified in the instructions (one of them being the Ministry of Internal Affairs office). According to sources, such documents are handed over to former police officers against a receipt and they are explained that in the event of a special directive being declared, they will be required to remain within the region and carry out tasks as part of the police force.

The authorities of Chuvashia [Russia's constituent republic] did not support the proposal of a member of the State Council of the republic to fully compensate the payments to the very first volunteers who joined the "special military operation." The specialized committee, consisting of members of the United Russia party [Putin’s ruling party], rejected the proposal.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war have been updated to include Vadim Kharunov from the Yaroslavl region.

Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, working in collaboration with volunteers and relying on open sources, have been able to confirm the death toll in the war with Ukraine to be 30,698 individuals, including 3,351 draftees. Over the past week, the list has been updated with 196 new names, including 78 mobilized soldiers. According to calculations by the Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet, at least 6,343 people from the republics and regions of the Volga have been killed in the war with Ukraine. In Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, one of the leading regions in terms of casualties among the Volga River regions, designated areas in two city cemeteries have been allocated by authorities for the burial of killed fighters, with a capacity of 1,446 graves. The exact number of soldiers interred in these zones remains undisclosed.

On Aug. 24, in the Rostov region, a mobilized soldier from Yekaterinburg died following a brawl with fellow servicemen. The man was found unconscious with a severe head injury. A day prior to the altercation, the man had a conflict with military personnel from another unit.

Pro-Russia "war correspondents" published numerous complaints by service members from the 205th Motorized Rifle Brigade deployed on the Kherson axis. According to the soldiers, they are being dispatched to missions without artillery and helicopter support and, as a result, entire units are either taken prisoner or get killed or wounded. The servicemen claim that officers who attempt stepping in for them are being removed from their posts. Also, in their words, some commanders demand 5,000 to 30,000 rubles [$50-300] for any infraction from their reports.

Yulia Shkolina, a resident of the village of Bereslavka in the Volgograd region, is trying to figure out what caused the death of her 21-year old son Andrey, a conscript. One year ago, the young man, deployed in the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border, was killed during an artillery attack. According to the woman, her son did not receive the status of a "special military operation" veteran and she only received an insurance payment for his death. The draft office informed her that Shkolin "was killed within the territory of the Belgorod region and had not been on the frontline."

In response to an inquiry by the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] member Nina Ostanina, Russia’s Ministry of Defense made a decision to transfer Pvt. Dmitry Dzyubenko out of the combat zone. During the fall of 2022, Dmitry was drafted into the war along with his brother. Their other brother volunteered for the war while serving time in a penal colony. Currently, Dmitry is the only brother who remains alive. Earlier, journalists from the Vyorstka media outlet visited the brothers’ native village and spoke to their relatives.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The victim of a homicide near the town of Starobelsk in the Luhansk region turned out to be a sapper commander (we covered the incident in one of our previous summaries). Initially, three of his fellow service members came under suspicion and a search for them was called. It then became apparent that one of the soldiers was on leave at a time and the murder could have been committed by his namesake.

The Barnaul Garrison Military Court [Altai region] sentenced two mobilized soldiers for going AWOL. Nikita Shahtorin, who had left his military unit on Dec. 18, 2022 and was detained on March 17, 2023 by the commandant's office staff, was sentenced to five years in a penal colony. Private Andrey Tikhonov, who had left his military unit on Nov. 10, 2022 and voluntarily showed up at a draft office on March 3, 2023, was sentenced to 5.5 years in a penal colony.

The Vladimir Garrison Military Court has declined the lawsuit of Major Mais Dzhafarov, who challenged the decision of the command refusing to discharge him due to having reached the maximum age for military service. In 2020, Dzhafarov enlisted under a contract until Aug. 6, 2022. In January 2022, he submitted a report to the unit commander, but no order for his discharge was ever issued. The court rejected Dzhafarov's claim, citing Putin's decree which raised the age limit for military service during the mobilization period. Consequently, Dzhafarov cannot be discharged until the age of 65.

A 22-year-old resident of Omsk had three criminal cases opened against him: deliberate destruction of property, aiding terrorist activities and high treason. The man was detained during the alleged attempt to set fire to railroad equipment. Later, the detainee's equipment was confiscated, revealing his correspondence with an unknown person who had offered him to join the "Freedom of Russia Legion."

The Federal Security Service (FSB) has stated that Russian courts are currently considering 22 cases concerning arson attacks on government buildings and railway infrastructure committed by "Russians deceived by Ukrainian intelligence agencies."

According to the FSB, a resident of the Altai region will be tried for cooperating with a representative of the "Freedom of Russia Legion." As per the FSB's account, at the end of 2022, the woman communicated with a representative of the organization and sought individuals willing to carry out arson attacks on government buildings. In March 2023, she was arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty.

A resident of the Kaliningrad region attempted to cross the border in the Belgorod region in order to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The 56-year-old man, originally from Ukraine, was apprehended by the FSB in Shebekino. A criminal case has been initiated against him on charges of attempted treason.

The detention of 16-year-old Yegor Balazeykin, held in a pre-trial detention center for allegedly attempting an act of terror by trying to set fire to a draft office in Kirovsk, Leningrad region, has been extended for another month, despite his progressing liver disease.


46 million rubles have been allocated in Omsk for benefits for the children of participants in the war with Ukraine. They will receive free hot meals, the opportunity to participate in athletic clubs for free, and will be exempt from fees for daycare and after-school programs.

Numerous volunteer organizations have emerged in Russia since the beginning of the war to support the military. Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] sheds light on the individuals and groups behind such projects.

Meanwhile, The Sever.Realii [a part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet, describes the challenges faced by Russian soldiers in terms of supplies. As the war continues to drag on, complaints about the lack of provisions show no signs of improvement.


Demo versions of exercises have been developed for ninth graders taking exams in Russian language and social studies. One of the tasks is to read aloud and retell a text about "a participant in a "special military operation." In the trial version of the Unified State Exam [graduation examination in Russia’s schools]for history in 2024, graduates are asked to match events related to the war in Ukraine and the occupation of its regions.

On Sept. 1, schoolchildren in Novosibirsk are planned to be given postcards with a military theme. The inscription on one of them reads: "Honor is more valuable than life."


In the village of Shakhmatovo in the Chelyabinsk region, the opening of a park for participants of the "special military operation" took place. The event was attended by mercenaries from the Wagner Group, as well as military personnel, officials, children in camouflage and a priest.

According to the Economist media outlet, about one million Russians left the country after the outbreak of war with Ukraine, making a record outflow of the population since the 1920s. The first wave of those who left was immediately after the invasion, the second one occurred after the start of "partial" mobilization.


The Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] media outlet studied the peculiarities of a recruitment campaign  in the Yakut media and identified its main idea: "a trench is an extension of a village house, which is not so different from it."