Patriarch Kirill of Moscow [head of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church] called for deferment from the draft for clergy to be legislated and instructed the Moscow Patriarchate's legal department to take care of the matter. Russian authorities claim that mobilization is over, and a second wave of the military draft is not necessary. Therefore, Kirill's statement raises questions. According to statistics for 2019, 40,500 clerics, 382 bishops and several thousand monks served in the ROC-MP. Thus, more than 41,000 people will be exempted from military service.
The Moscow Patriarchate has issued a prayer book for the mothers, wives and sisters of servicemen entitled "Mothers, wives, sisters, we pray for fighters." As part of the introduction to the collection of prayers and psalms it says that although they are far from the battlefield, the relatives of soldiers can still help those defending the Motherland if they pray vigorously. Besides prayers for soldiers, wounded and prisoners, the book includes a section titled "When famine threatens."
In his capacity as chairman of the State Council commission for economics and finance, governor of the Chelyabinsk region Aleksey Teksler suggested that as a measure of support regions write off their debts in the amount of funds allocated to finance mobilization and aid "new territories". President's spokesman Peskov commented on the proposal, "First of all, it requires very, very scrupulous study by the Ministry of Finance."
Military commissar of the Tyumen region Aleksey Kulichkov explained the mistakes during mobilization as "citizens' fault". He stated: "If there were any mistakes, in most cases they occurred through the fault of a citizen himself. Because someone did not submit their papers in a timely manner and did not apply to a military commissariat [enlistment office] at their place of residence." This statement sparked backlash even among "patriotic" Telegram channels.
Unknown people set fire to a military commissariat in the Saratov region. A fire broke out in the building of the military commissariat on Cooperative Street of Ivanteevka. They tried to set fire to the duty officer's office - a plastic bottle with gasoline residues was found there. The fire was extinguished before it moved to other rooms, but the office was badly damaged. The police are looking for the arsonists. On December 21, the Kyrinsky District Court of the Zabaykalsky region fined local resident Anton Saltanov 20,000 rubles for trying to set fire to the local military commissariat, OVD-Info reports.
On Dec. 19, the OTV Sakhalin state television channel broadcasted live the Otkrytyi Dialog [Open Dialogue] show where Alexander Gimro, a member of the commission on mobilization in the region, and Svetlana Shvets, mayor of the Aniva district, participated. At some point, a local farmer, Yuri Kornienko, got through on the air. He stated that he had been wounded during the “special operation” near Severodonetsk, reported high losses and complained about a lack of assistance from the government. After that, Shvets offered to "take contacts from him." Later, the broadcast was removed from the OTV Sakhalin sources. The Fotnanka media outlet learned how the military from St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region obtained the due payments.
In the military unit 13766 of the Volgograd region, Dmitry Antipin, a father of three, has been detained for three months. They can’t send him to war because of the order of the General Staff not to draft fathers of many children. But they don’t let him go home either, demanding either a certificate of death for his wife (who is alive) or a certificate of disability for at least one of his children (who are healthy). A Pskov official recommended him to apply to a draft board for deferment. The official did not specify, however, how a serviceman in the combat zone should do that.
In Mari El [Russia’s constituent republic], authorities tried an innovative approach in their efforts to provide targeted support to families of the mobilized. Prisoners will be engaged in helping them. A woman in the village of Nizhneye Azyakovo needed help with getting firewood for the winter. Her husband was mobilized and she herself is struggling looking after her two young children. Four prisoners were sent to help her. In the Kursk region, a member of the regional parliament with the United Russia ruling party reported to have helped with purchasing firewood for a mother of seven whose eldest son had been mobilized and sent to the “special military operation” area. Seventh-grade schoolgirls in the Moscow region were tasked to sew identification armbands for the Russian soldiers. And students of vocational colleges in the city of Tomsk made potbelly stoves for the troops.
Governor of the Kostroma region Sergey Sitnikov adopted the law granting land plots to citizens engaged in the “special military operation”, including those who were mobilized.
Russia’s national news agency RIA Novosti broadcasts footage of artillerymen of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division and mobilized troops fighting in the area of Svatove. The Russian Ministry of Defense continues to demonstrate Russia-Belarus joint combat training exercises that are carried on in Belarus.
Pro-Russian mobilized journalist Ilya Krugovoy published a video taken at the cultural center in the village of Roschinskiy where draftees from the Samara region are being trained. Earlier, it was reported that the soldiers stationed there would be leaving for the front soon; however, the send off was canceled and a concert was held instead.
At least 492 mobilized Russians have died since the beginning of the war. This is the number of confirmed reports on the deaths of draftees found by the BBC and the Mediazona independent news outlet who jointly maintain a list of confirmed Russian casualties. 456 draftees were killed in Ukraine and 36 more died in the Russian Federation. The most frequent causes of non-combat deaths are heart problems, accidents, and alcohol abuse.
Artur Alikovich Ktsoev, a draftee from the village of Ozrek in North Ossetia, has been killed in the Zaporizhzhia region. In total, 144 North Ossetia residents and 17 South Ossetia residents were killed in the “special military operation.”
A garrison court in Chelyabinsk sentenced a private contract soldier who did not report back to his unit after the mobilization was announced to five years of forced labor. On August 22, the private went AWOL from his unit in Chelyabinsk. The court stated, “While being fully aware that partial mobilization was announced in the Russian Federation on September 21, [the defendant] stayed outside the military and did not take measures to report back to his military unit or contact military management.”
In the Moscow region, a 19-year-old man was detained by police for refusing to go to the draft office. Police came home to Dmitry Dyachenko to take the potential draftee to the draft office. Dmitry refused and was taken to the Ministry of Internal Affairs Office No. 5 in Golitsyno where he is still detained while ill with bronchitis and having fever. Dyachenko’s sister says that he is not fit for military service since he is flatfooted and suffers from hernia.
A female resident of Yenakiieve, Donetsk region, is trying to get back her husband, who was recruited to the war without receiving a draft notice back in February. In the summer, the woman fell ill and now cannot fully take care of her 22-year-old disabled son. A sick son and mother suffer from cold without care in a poorly heated house where tap water is only available twice a week. The husband was mobilized on Feb. 21, on Sept. 19 he was given the first leave and came home. He found his family in a terrible state and wrote a report on his discharge from military service due to the need to take care of his son and wife. However, his report apparently did not reach anyone, and he was again sent to the Kherson region.
The Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation approved the program of school education, which includes basic military training in the framework of health and safety training course and a section about the "special military operation" to be studied in history classes. Particularly, the new history textbooks for year 5 and 6 students will include chapters on the war in Ukraine, this year's referendums and the sanctions that followed these events. The Sirena Telegram channel has summarized the main points of the new programs on history and health and safety training courses. A course on the basics of military training will be taught at universities.
According to The Moscow Times [online newspaper], the Kremlin is stepping up its censorship regime for state-controlled media amid rumors of the second wave of mobilization and the decision to increase the size of the army by another 350,000 people.