The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has prepared amendments to the regulations on issuing driving licenses. These amendments would prohibit individuals from taking a driving test and obtaining a driving license if they have received a draft notice, failed to report to a draft office, and now face temporary restrictions. If approved, these changes will come into force on Apr. 1, 2024.
Police continue to apprehend naturalized migrants who fail to register for military service. On the night of Dec. 21-22, they conducted a raid in the vicinity of the Lakhta Center skyscraper in Saint Petersburg. The 78 local television channel reported that one of the objectives of the roundup was to deliver recently naturalized citizens to a draft office. No information on the number of draft notices served or people detained was available. Law enforcement officers also raided a mosque in Yekaterinburg. According to a local media outlet, they detained some of the worshippers and took them away on buses. The authorities refused to comment on the raid and the number of people detained remains unknown.
The Krasnoyarsk Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case for negligence against unidentified officials who allegedly failed to prevent the situation in which 7,000 out of 9,000 citizens naturalized in the region between 2018 and 2023 failed to register for military service. The investigators claim that this negligence "led to a degradation of the country's defense capability."
Convicted in 2018 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for bribery, the mayor of a city in Komi [Russia's constituent republic] has signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense and joined the Storm-Z unit to participate in the war.
Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 40,010 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine, including 4,880 mobilized soldiers. Over the past week, the list has grown by 586 servicemen, including 93 mobilized men. Journalists note that the number of Russian military deaths in Ukraine in 2023 has increased by 1.5 times compared to the first year of the invasion. While in 2022 at least 15,520 soldiers were killed in 2022, the current year has seen at least 24,100 casualties. The main trend of this year is a sharp increase in losses among those not originally associated with the military. Two-thirds of all identified casualties are people who were not connected to the army before the invasion: volunteer fighters, mobilized soldiers, convicts, and recruits of "private military companies."
The wife of a mobilized soldier from the city of Khabarovsk has complained that since the beginning of the mobilization, her husband had not been granted any leave. After numerous complaints to the military prosecutor's office in Khabarovsk, the woman was promised that her husband would be granted the legally mandated leave by the end of 2023. However, the command of the unit has not yet approved the man's request. According to the soldier's wife, after the complaints became public, the command forced the soldier to write explanatory notes indicating his acceptance of the decision not to grant him leave.
The family of Georgy Kotovets, a mobilized resident of the Krasnodar region, has been removed from the housing queue after his death. Kotovets served as a rescuer for 15 years, and his workplace was preserved during mobilization. According to his widow, the housing application was denied because Kotovets did not die in the line of duty. The court ruled that the denial was lawful.
In the Belgorod region, an unregistered Kalashnikov assault rifle with full ammunition was confiscated from a veteran of the war in Ukraine. The man faces criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms and was released on a promise to appear. It's worth noting that on Dec. 21, the Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel reported an increase in crimes related to illegal firearm circulation.
In Saint Petersburg, 67-year-old Aleksandr Tyutin has been arrested on suspicion of organizing a murder. He faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of preparing a contract killing. Tyutin was previously sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2021 for organizing the murder of a family of four.
A military court in Saint Petersburg convicted an officer of negligently damaging military property and ordered him to pay the Ministry of Defense nearly 14 million rubles [$152,000]. On the night of June 30 to July 1, the captain in charge of the Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery system forgot to secure the equipment while driving under a bridge on the Pulkovskoye highway, resulting in damage to the latter.
Dovod [independent Russian media outlet] reported that in 2023, the Vladimir Garrison Military Court received 42 administrative complaints from soldiers challenging decisions made by the Ministry of Defense. This category includes appeals against decisions of medical evaluation boards and draft offices. A significant number of these cases concerned challenges to mobilization. Of the 42 lawsuits, only four were granted in full and two others were partially. In 2022, the same court had received only 17 administrative cases of this category.
For the first time, a court in Khabarovsk sentenced Russian citizens in cases related to providing financial aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On Dec. 21, the court sentenced a woman who transferred funds to Ukraine to eight years in prison for treason. Presumably, this is 24-year-old Tamara Parshina. Another Khabarovsk resident was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony under the same charge. Both cases were tried in record time in October, and the defendants received sentences below the minimum for this charge, likely as part of a plea deal.
A criminal case for an act of terror has been initiated against a 21-year-old resident of Samara, who was detained for setting fire to the doors of the History Museum of "special military operation" in Saratov. He faces up to 20 years in prison. The man claimed he did this following the instructions of scammers who deceived him.
The Kirovsky District Court of Ufa sentenced activist Ramilya Saitova to five years in a penal colony on charges of "public calls for activities aimed against the security of the state." Saitova was accused of making a video address to the mobilized soldiers of Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic], urging those "who do not agree with killing people" to go home.
In the Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject], soldiers, war veterans and their families will receive compensation for the gasification of their homes. The maximum payout will be 380,000 rubles [$4,120], and in 2024, 68 families will be eligible.
Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting payments of 100,000 rubles [$1,090] to children "affected by the aggression of Ukraine" in the annexed and border territories. The right to payment will be given to minors with Russian citizenship who suffered injuries after Feb. 18, 2022.
Former Wagner Group mercenaries who were involved in the invasion of Ukraine continue to visit educational institutions. At Boarding School No. 88 in Ulyanovsk, Alaberdy Karazhaev spoke to the children and talked about the "hard life of soldiers." Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow is Speaking] Telegram channel drew attention to the fact that Karazhaev’s namesake was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony for the murder of a relative in June 2016. In Perm, former mercenaries visited a center providing assistance to children left without parental care.
In school No. 6 in the town of Kolchugino, Vladimir region, a lesson on "patriotic education" was conducted in the format of "Trials of Fascism," after which a person who took part in the invasion of Ukraine spoke to students about the alleged resurgence of fascism in that country. In the Saratov region, during a meeting between pro-war volunteers and schoolchildren, the latter were allowed to handle an assault rifle. In the Rostov region, librarians conducted a lesson for schoolchildren titled "Their Courage Will Remain for Centuries." A man who returned from the war was invited to the event so that the children could "receive information from the primary source," and the students were made to read poems of dubious artistic value.
The NeNorma [Not a Norm] Telegram channel noted that bikers from the government-affiliated Night Wolves movement, who actively visit schools to tell children about "patriotism," collect support for war participants at these meetings.
In one of the shopping centers in Samara, an exhibition of Ukrainian "trophies" was organized, featuring remnants of military equipment, leaflets, flags, and history textbooks from schools.
The Govorit NeMoskva Telegram channel spoke with experts about how various non-profit organizations arbitrarily include war related initiatives in their applications to the Presidential Grants Foundation in order to secure funding for other projects, such as sports and children's playgrounds.
Govorit NeMoskva also studied patriotic projects that have received presidential grants. The Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives published a list of 883 projects that will receive about 4 billion rubles [$43.4 million] for patriotic events next year.
The Novaya Gazeta [independent Russian newspaper] collected stories of orphans who are persuaded by the government to sign contracts with the Russian Armed Forces under various pretexts. The journalists also published the "Nobody's Boys" film.
The Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] released a film about female relatives of mobilized soldiers. In it, the families of the mobilized answered various questions: why they let the men go to war, why they do not oppose the "special military operation," how their attitude to such concepts as "patriotism" and "homeland" has changed, how they see the future of Russia, and whether they consider their husbands, brothers, and sons to be heroes.
The SOTA media outlet published a video about Russian deputies, mayors, prosecutors, and other officials and civil servants who, since the beginning of the mobilization, have been constantly declaring that they will go to the war, but often do not reach the frontline.