mobilization briefs
September 1, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Aug. 30-31, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The federal government rejected a bill, which would have exonerated volunteer fighters from criminal liability for minor and moderate offenses. The bill would have authorized prosecutors to terminate criminal cases against suspects and defendants who volunteer for military service. The review indicated that such changes are not compatible with the Russian Criminal Code. It should be noted that President Putin signed another bill into law earlier this year, which exonerates people from criminal liability who enlisted during periods of mobilization or martial law.

The federal government expressed its support for a bill, which would suspend a draft board’s decision, if the citizen being called up for military duty submits an appeal. They would not be expected to serve until the court delivers its final judgment. It is worth noting that the practice proposed by the bill had been the norm for 20 years, until amendments related to the digitization of the military registry abolished it. At the moment, the law grants citizens the right to appeal draft board decisions, but does not guarantee their suspension for the duration of the legal proceedings.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

A new Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] regiment is mustering in the Vladimir region for service in the occupied territories. Earlier, Rosvardia recruited for the same purpose in the Amur region.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Vyacheslav Moiseev from the Perm region.

Authorities have changed their stance on recognizing Wagner Group mercenaries as war participants. Despite the law adopted in April, their families are not provided with certificates, financial support, or benefits, as reported by the Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We can explain] Telegram channel.

Three days before being sent to Ukraine, mobilized men from Chelyabinsk were locked in vehicles during officials' visit to their unit in order to prevent them from complaining. One of the soldiers' wives shared this information. Additionally, according to her, all the assistance that was collected for the soldiers did not reach them, and her husband received only 39,000 rubles [$408] during his three months of service, as neither he nor 379 of his fellow soldiers had any records of being sent to the front in their military IDs.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In the Moscow region, former mercenaries from the Wagner Group were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping three men with the intent of demanding a ransom of 5 million rubles [$52,000]. The former mercenaries abducted the men and took them to an undisclosed location, after which they contacted the victims' relatives and demanded a ransom. The kidnapped men were held captive for eight days. When the kidnappers put the captives in a car and drove onto the highway, they were intercepted by police officers. The men were freed and returned home.

The commander of the Vatan volunteer unit from Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic] has reported the arrest of servicemen suspected of murdering a fellow soldier near Starobilsk in the "LPR." According to him, the murder was the result of alcohol consumption. Details of the incident were covered in one of our previous summaries.

The Kyakhta Garrison Military Court has sentenced Junior Sergeant Aleksey Kalashnikov to three years and one month in prison for attempted murder. While intoxicated, he threatened a woman with a knife. According to court records, Kalashnikov was previously found guilty in May 2023 of going AWOL during mobilization.

Two mobilized soldiers from the Primorsky region [Russia’s federal subject] have been sentenced to two years and eight months in a penal settlement for refusing to obey orders during wartime. In October 2022, while on the frontline, these mobilized individuals submitted a report refusing to participate in the war, in response to which the command threatened them with murder and physical intimidation. In the spring of 2023, these mobilized individuals refused to return to the war on three occasions, citing a lack of preparation as one of their reasons for disobeying orders.

The Khabarovsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced contract soldier Andrey Timin to two and a half years in prison for refusing to participate in combat activities. The command of the unit initially offered Timin to go to war in Ukraine as early as the end of February 2022, which he immediately declined. Initially, this was met with indifference, but later, pressure on the soldier intensified, prompting him to submit a discharge request in September 2022. The discharge order was revoked a month later, and Timin was reinstated in military service. In February, he was informed that he would be deployed to the war. Timin's defense has already appealed the verdict.

The Grozny Garrison Military Court has sentenced soldier Roman Uteyev to five years in prison for going AWOL. He was absent from his unit from Feb. 5 to May 15, 2023, after receiving treatment for a wound in the hospital. He returned to the unit voluntarily.

Several more sentences have been handed down for going AWOL in the Eastern Military District. Corporal Maksim Poruchikov was sentenced to two years of probation. On Dec.17, 2022, he left a military hospital and voluntarily appeared at the draft office in Tomsk on Jan. 16, 2023. Corporal Vitaly Savchenko received a five-year probation sentence for being absent from the military unit from Nov. 3, 2022 to March 6, 2023. Private Denis Sinyagin was given a two-year probation sentence for leaving his unit from Nov. 23 to Dec. 5, 2022.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that they thwarted an attempt by a resident of the Rostov region to cross the border with Ukraine in order to "join one of the armed formations fighting on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine." Since, according to the agency, he "did not manage to engage in immediate preparation and attempt to commit a crime," FSB agents limited their response to a "serious" conversation and a warning, after which the man was released.

The Oktyabrsky District Court of Ulan-Ude sentenced a 61-year-old Natalia Filonova from Buryatia to nearly three years in a penal colony under the charge of using violence against a representative of authority. She allegedly assaulted police officers who detained her during a protest against mobilization in early November 2022. The woman’s defense plans to appeal the verdict. Earlier, the Vyorstka media outlet published Filonova's monologue about her protest against Z-symbolism. Her adopted disabled son ended up in an orphanage where he faced bullying from other residents.

As discovered by the Sota media outlet, Ildar Bulatov, a resident of Bashkortostan who died by suicide in a pre-trial detention center, after being detained on Aug. 2 when he threatened to detonate a grenade, had conflicts with a parliamentary candidate and the commander of his unit, Rinat Kultumanov. Fellow soldiers report that he sought a meeting with the head of the republic, Radiy Khabirov, due to hazing in the locally formed battalion. Khabirov himself promised to handle Bulatov's funeral arrangements. Earlier, the media published complaints from battalion soldiers, alleging that commanders were stealing "humanitarian aid," engaging in alcohol abuse, and having "field wives."

The OVD-Info independent human rights project has launched a website containing all the information known to the project on anti-war cases and their defendants. Currently, there are at least 681 people being prosecuted under anti-war articles, 223 of them are deprived of freedom, with criminal cases opened across 78 regions of Russia. In less than six months, the number of people prosecuted for their anti-war stance in Russia has increased by 177.

Assistance

Head of Russia's constituent Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Aysen Nikolayev, issued a personal order to connect the house of a Hero of Russia to central heating and cover the costs of installing a fence.

Children

On Sept.1, Vladimir Putin will hold an open "Talking About Important Things" lesson. According to the Kremlin press service, the lesson will be attended by 30 schoolchildren with "outstanding achievements in their studies." The topic of the open lesson was not specified.

Starting from Sept. 1, the Russian government introduced a new mandatory course, titled "Fundamentals of Russian Statehood," intended for first-year students. This course, developed by the presidential administration, features a manual that contraposes "Western" and "traditional Russian" values, and calls the Russian invasion of Ukraine "the restoration of the Russian people's unity." Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] analyzed it in collaboration with teachers who lost their jobs due to their anti-war stance. Additionally, the Vyorstka media outlet compiled a list of all the innovations that students will encounter in the upcoming academic year.

Miscellaneous

The wife of an officer from Surgut has proposed a meaningful way to honor the memory of Russian servicemen killed in the war with Ukraine. A concert and tour will be held for their wives and mothers. Subsequently, they will be invited to take part in an interactive exhibition featuring photographs of the fallen servicemen.

According to the Vyorstka media outlet, the authorities of six regions of Russia will spend 150 million rubles [$1.55 million] to improve alleys in memory of Russian servicemen killed in the war with Ukraine. Meanwhile, in Vladimir, 15 million rubles [$155,000] were spent on setting up a square in honor of the deceased Lieutenant General Roman Kutuzov. Earlier, a bust of Kutuzov, a memorial plaque and a museum in his memory were already opened in the city. Besides, his name was given to the school where he studied.

Longreads

A correspondent of Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet visited the remote village of Ust-Kabyrza in the Kemerovo region, where the Shorians live. Despite their small number, many villagers went to war. It is noteworthy that representatives of the military commissariat had to go to particularly hard-to-reach places by helicopter.

The Novaya Vkladka [New Tab] and the Prodolzheniye sleduyet [To Be Continued] media outlets compared sentences for corruption in the army and for refusal to fight in the war with Ukraine handed down by Russian courts. Since the beginning of the invasion, Russian courts have dismissed a significant number of criminal cases of corruption in the army, and almost no one got jail time. At the same time, mobilized servicemen, accused of desertion or refusal to execute an order, are sentenced to terms in penal colonies, and those on probation are returned to the frontline.

The Astra Telegram channel has collected personal stories of wives of mobilized soldiers from the "DPR" who are not being released from the frontline despite their age and severe health problems.

The Cherta media outlet published an interview with a woman who endured severe domestic violence from her husband. He was convicted of domestic violence but was released from prison after joining the mercenaries. Fortunately for the subject of the article, her ordeal came to an end when her husband was killed in the war. Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] also published an article about ex-convicts who began to rob, rape and kill again upon returning from the war.

In addition, Meduza spoke with researcher Svetlana Eremeeva, who studied military funerals in Russia and Ukraine in 2022 and wrote a book about it titled "Dead Time." The podcast discusses the contrasting practices of military funerals in Ukraine and Russia.

After the start of full-scale aggression against Ukraine, the phenomenon of "Z-psychology" arose in Russia, which helped the state achieve the loyalty of citizens and stimulate support for the war. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty explains how Z-psychologists work and why their work is dangerous.