President Vladimir Putin has signed the law raising the upper age limit for conscription to 30 years, effective from Jan. 1, 2024. The lower age limit for conscription remains at 18. Initially, the authorities had announced that the lower age limit for conscription would be raised to 21 years. Andrey Kartapolov, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], stated that raising the upper age limit for conscription will allow men up to 30 years old to be drafted and enlisted in the military reserve at the age of 31. However, according to lawyers, the updated Military Conscription and Military Service Act clearly implies that a citizen will be enrolled in the reserve upon reaching the age of 30.
Additionally, Putin signed a law that prohibits a citizen from traveling abroad from the day when a draft notice is sent to them, as well as from the moment the draft notice is posted in the Draft Registry. Earlier this week, Putin had signed a number of laws tightening legal liability for violating military registration requirements.
According to Kartapolov, the bill on prison sentences for evading mobilization will be introduced this fall. (See here for more details on the bill, as well as opinions of journalist Farida Rustamova and political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann.) The draft of the bill has not been published yet, but Kartapolov confirmed that penalties include fines of up to 500,000 rubles [$5,315], or imprisonment for up to five years. Currently, the Criminal Code only imposes liability for evading conscription. Kartapolov believes the proposed bill is highly relevant and considers actions such as going AWOL or failing to report to a draft office after a draft notice has been issued as forms of evading mobilization. At the same time, according to him, there are no immediate plans for a new wave of mobilization in Russia, and the proposed bill is in no way connected to any such plans. It's worth noting that just ten days ago, commenting on other amendments concerning military service, he said, "This law was written for a big war, for general mobilization. And now this already smells like a big war."
Kartapolov also commented on the court’s decision in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], which recognized the right of draft offices to mobilize men, even when they have deferral certificates from their employers (more details about the decision here and here). In the parliamentarian’s opinion, "a draft deferral certificate grants a citizen only a temporary status." It can be rescinded, if they move to a new position, and in any case, the certificate does not guarantee a deferment or exemption from the draft.
Finally, Kartapolov also touched upon the topic of weapons for Territorial Defense Forces. He stated that the government had not yet defined a mechanism for their transfer. It is worth noting, however, that on Wednesday, the governors of the Belgorod and Kursk regions gave orders to issue semi-automatic rifles to the members of their Territorial Defense Forces.
Member of the State Duma Nina Ostanina has introduced a bill to reinstate the provision of the Military Duty Act that allowed draftees to use attorney services for representation in draft offices. Earlier, the Duma passed legislation that restricted representation in draft offices to only draftees' family members, as the term "authorized representative" was replaced with "legal representative." Ostanina argues that "competent adult individuals do not have legal representatives," and therefore the current revision of the Act violates the Russian Constitution.
Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] and the Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] Telegram channel cite the Reuters data indicating that military expenditures from the Russian budget over the first six months of this year accounted for more than a third of all the money spent—37%, or 5.59 trillion rubles [$58.4 billion]. The National Defense section of the 2023 budget originally allocated 4.98 trillion rubles [$52 billion] in total, meaning that the expenditures have already exceeded the yearly planned value by 600 billion rubles [$6.4 billion]. Over these six months, Russia’s total expenditures for the war have made up 19.2% of all the expenditures planned for 2023. Such policies have already resulted in a budget deficit of 2.5 trillion rubles [$26 billion].
Advertisements for contract-based military service were noticed on buildings of the funeral bureau in Kulebaki, Nizhny Novgorod region, and the drama theater in Tomsk. The administration of Tolyatti decided to send advertisements for contract service to men with outstanding debts for utilities. In the Kostroma region, another group of volunteer fighters, who signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense, commenced their training in preparation for deployment to the war zone.
Since July, employees of the Zhilishchnik State Budgetary Institution [Moscow utility provider] have started receiving new draft deferral certificates. However, not everyone who had a deferral in the previous mobilization wave is having it renewed this time.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include the names of Pyotr Suranov from the Perm region, Sergey Palatkin from the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region, Ruslan Shamsutdinov from the Orenburg region, Mikhail Komarov from the Novosibirsk region, Oleg Grankovsky from the Rostov region, and Aleksey Syryatov from the Sverdlovsk region.
Journalists from Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, were able to confirm the deaths of 29,217 soldiers in the war with Ukraine based on open sources. This includes 3,086 mobilized men. In the last week, the list of casualties has grown by 565 names, including 110 mobilized soldiers.
In the village of Dyatlovka in the Moscow region, a new cemetery with fifty graves of mercenaries from the Wagner Group, killed during the war in Ukraine, was found. Meanwhile, in the southern part of Russia, 44 new graves of Russian soldiers were discovered.
The Astra Telegram channel presents new evidence of the operation of an illegal prison for Russian soldiers in Perevalsk, Luhansk region. According to the wife of one of the mobilized soldiers held there, her husband and his fellow soldiers from the 1430th Regiment got there after they wrote complaints about their commanders. In the prison of Perevalsk, soldiers are forced to return to service through threats. Astra first reported on this prison in the fall of 2022.
The family of a Russian soldier who was killed in the war has been unable to receive appropriate payment and reimbursed for funeral expenses for the past five months because his documents cannot be located at the military unit.
A former Wagner Group mercenary fled the scene of a fatal road accident in Chelyabinsk. He ran over a man lying on the ground after another accident. The traffic police of the city confirmed the fatal hit-and-run, and the suspect has been apprehended.
In Karelia [Russia's constituent republic], the seventh victim of former mercenary Igor Sofonov and his accomplice Maksim Bochkarev has been discovered. This murder became the deadliest in the history of modern Karelia. Mediazona has compiled all available information about the killers and their victims up to the present moment.
According to the Agentstvo.Novosti Telegram channel, soldiers returning from the war with Ukraine have been accused of murder of at least 17 people in Russia since the beginning of the year. At least six of the murderers are ex-mercenaries from the Wagner Group.
The Ufa Garrison Military Court ordered two months of arrest for a serviceman who threatened to blow up a gas station in Ufa with a grenade. Earlier, another case had been initiated against him on charges of desertion.
A Moscow court sentenced a contract soldier to five years of probation for going AWOL. In September 2022, the man signed a three-month contract with the Ministry of Defense. In January 2023, he abandoned his unit, only to turn himself in to the authorities in March.
The Irkutsk Garrison Military Court imposed a two-year penal colony sentence for Sergeant Major Aleksey Sysoyev for going AWOL. Sysoyev fled from his unit on Apr. 2, 2023, only to report to the draft office in person voluntarily on Apr. 28.
In the Belgorod region, a resident of Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic] was detained while reportedly trying to cross the border with Ukraine aiming to join the "Freedom of Russia Legion." A criminal case was opened against him for attempted treason and involvement in a terrorist group. Coincidentally, the Federal Security Service (FSB) announced an arrest of a 29-year-old man from Kazan who allegedly conspired to commit sabotage on instructions from the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
A 15-year-old boy from the town of Koltushi in the Leningrad region came to the police and confessed to an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to a relay cabinet, which he and his friend made back on July 25. He revealed that he learned the location of the cabinet from a 17-year-old student. A criminal investigation of an attempted property damage was launched. The boy who turned himself in was arrested, while his friend was released. The student involved is currently wanted by the police.
Court in Yakutsk dismissed the lawsuit filed by a local woman against the draft board. She demanded the return of her mobilized husband, as he is the father of three children under 16 years of age. In her suit, the woman made a reference to the Instructions of the General Staff of the Russian Ministry of Defense on draft deferrals for the fathers of large families. However, the court ruled that only men with at least four children are eligible for the deferral.
A 20-year-old girl was detained in Orekhovo-Zuyevo for an attempted arson of a draft office. She was incited by scammers, who promised her 250,000 rubles [$2,600] for the arson.
Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] interviewed a family member of one of the Russians detained for attempting to set fire to a draft office and reported on how scammers manipulate elderly Russians into carrying out such acts.
The authorities in Saint Petersburg are planning to enhance the security of the city's military commissariats [enlistment offices]. The commissariats will receive constant police protection. From July 31 to Aug. 2, there were three attempts to set fire to draft offices in the city. Meanwhile, in Saint Petersburg, the Oktyabrsky District Court placed Zhumangul Kurbanova, who is accused of setting fire to the draft office on Angliyskiy Prospect, under house arrest.
Russian regions continue to provide aid to military personnel in the combat zone. Metal detectors, quadcopters, and night vision devices were sent to the war from Olenegorsk, Murmansk region. Similarly, digital radios, anti-drone rifles, drones, and generators were sent to the frontline from Karachay-Cherkessia [Russia’s constituent republic], while radios, relay stations, and charging devices were collected for the military in Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic].
The museum at the rural school in the village of Verkhnekalinovsky, Astrakhan region, has acquired some new exhibits such as personal belongings of soldiers, weapons and quadcopters brought from the occupied territories.
An Alpha Special Forces veteran organized military sports events for children in Sochi, where they are taught to shoot and march, and also discuss the invasion of Ukraine.
Farkhad Ziganshin, a lieutenant from Kazan, who is on the wanted list in Russia and currently hiding in Kazakhstan, was denied asylum in France. His application was rejected on the basis of insufficient experience in opposition activities. Earlier, the French National Court of Asylum ruled that Russians fleeing mobilization and deserters are entitled to receive refugee status in France based on EU law. Meanwhile, the Tilda service blocked the site of the platform of anti-war initiatives, which posted an appeal to the European Commission for asylum for Russian soldiers who deliberately refuse to serve in the army.
Governor of the Altai region [Russia’s federal subject] Viktor Tomenko signed a decree recommending that the authorities of the municipalities erect bronze busts of soldiers killed in the war with Ukraine who received the title of Hero of Russia. At the same time, the authorities of Novokuznetsk spent 1.11 billion rubles [$11.5 million] on the improvement of the Square of the Defenders of Donbas.
Novaya Gazeta Europe [independent Russian newspaper] published an article telling how Russian authorities tried to make the war an "elevator pitch" for the poor.