mobilization briefs
December 25, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Dec. 22-24, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

According to the National Resistance Center of Ukraine, DOSAAF [Russian Army, Air Force and Navy Volunteer Society] branches in Crimea are recruiting people to undergo training as FPV drone operators. Prospective candidates are required to commit to joining the war as volunteer fighters upon successful course completion.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

Following a similar rally held on Dec. 9, the wives and relatives of mobilized soldiers gathered once again to lay flowers at the Eternal Flame in Moscow. The Vyorstka media outlet reports that approximately 10 women took part in the minute of silence at the start of the rally. These women wore white headscarves chosen as a symbol of protest.

Among them, one woman had inscribed on her jacket, "Return my hubby, I'm sick of this sh*t," while another had "Shoigu, replace mobilized soldiers with contract ones" written on her t-shirt. The participants in the rally were expressing their opposition to open-ended mobilization and were demanding the return of their loved ones. After a few of the women laid flowers, officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs approached them and started checking IDs.

Zemskiy Siezd [People's Congress], an organization of municipal deputies from different regions of the Russian Federation, has endorsed the manifesto published by the Put Domoy [Way Home] Telegram channel. In support of this manifesto, the organization is urging the country’s leadership to discharge all mobilized soldiers and refrain from recruiting new ones.

The Put Domoy channel has urged its followers to participate in a congress organized by the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, an association with a questionable reputation founded in 2019. Those willing to participate are required to pay a 10,000 ruble attendance fee [$110], despite the fact that neither the congress agenda nor the list of speakers has been yet announced. Head of the association Svetlana Golub explained that the Committee was demanding a fee due to a lack of resources to cover the event's costs.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Aleksey Nelyubov from the Orenburg region, Tikhon Markov from the Tyumen region, Eduard Betekhtin from the Omsk region, Andrey Rashchupkin from the Volgograd region, as well as Yevgeny Bavzhis, Aleksandr Zhdanov, Maksim Pashnin and Stepan Korobitsyn from the Sverdlovsk region.

A serviceman with the Storm-Z unit has complained about being subjected to beatings and extortion by the command. According to his relatives, the man voluntarily signed a contract last summer and initially served with the 1251st Motorized Rifle Regiment. However, due to alleged misconduct, he was demoted to the Storm-Z unit, where he became a target for mistreatment and extortion. In response to threats, his wife transferred him over 300,000 rubles [$3,250] to pay to the extortionists. The victim, along with several fellow servicemen, recorded a video exposing the commander. Upon discovering the video, the commander launched a search for those involved. Fearing retaliation, the soldiers, upon hearing threats over the radio, left their positions to hide. Allegedly, the command intended to fire at them with mortars. The wife of this soldier says she has not heard from her husband since Dec. 12.

As of the fall of 2023, the number of requests for assistance in deserting from the Russian Army have surged by 89 percent compared to the summer, as earlier reported by the Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel—a project dedicated to aiding deserters. Kavkaz.Realii [Caucasus.Realities], a media outlet monitoring desertion cases in the south of Russia, interviewed the project’s spokesperson Ivan Chuvilyaev. According to him, Idite Lesom! traditionally receives few inquiries from the national republics of the North Caucasus, where residents generally exhibit distrust toward Russian human rights activists. In contrast, there is an opposite trend in the southern regions of Russia, where appeals come from both local residents and injured military personnel in hospitals from other regions. Chuvilyaev mentioned that an increasing number of wounded soldiers are being transferred to hospitals in different locations, ranging from Saint Petersburg to Ufa. According to human rights activists, this could be linked to the growing number of desertions in southern Russia, where it is comparatively easier to leave the country's territory.

On Dec. 22, Russia and Ukraine Russia and Ukraine carried out their first exchange of letters and parcels for prisoners of war, as reported by Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. According to him, four Ukrainian citizens have returned to Ukraine. However, the details regarding whether these individuals are members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine or civilians taken captive by Russian soldiers are not specified. Simultaneously, Russian citizens departed for Russia "for the purpose of family reunification."

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

According to the SHOT Telegram channel, a foreign-made grenade launcher with ammunition inside was found on the banks of the Moscow River in the Moscow region.

The Investigative Committee has announced the resolution of a railway sabotage case in the Moscow region. According to investigators, two youths born in 2005 and 2006 broke into a relay cabinet near Mikhnevo station, setting it on fire. The individuals were detained and have purportedly confessed to the act, claiming they decided to start the fire for money promised by a "handler." The court subsequently placed them under house arrest.

The Astra Telegram channel reports that a resident of the city of Belgorod has been charged with aiding terrorist activities in connection with his use of the "Freedom of Russia Legion" Telegram bot.

Svetlana Zotova from Yaroslavl has stated that her 19-year-old daughter Valeria, who was sentenced to six years in a penal colony for attempting to set fire to the aid collection point for mobilized soldiers, was subjected to violence by the Federal Security Service (FSB) officers. According to Svetlana, her daughter was beaten during the arrest, kept in the snow with just a shirt and no socks, had her face pushed into the snow, and was threatened with a stun gun. Human rights advocates consider her case to be completely fabricated. In a year-end review, the human rights project Crew Against Torture highlighted the most prominent cases of Russians subjected to torture in 2023 for their anti-war actions or expressions.


Officials from the Vladimir region reported collaboration with the Juteks plant in providing assistance to war participants. The plant, owned by the Slovenian company Juteks, is part of the international Beaulieu International Group based in Belgium. Notably, the company continued production despite the ongoing invasion.

Children and Educational System

War participants and Cossacks were invited to the Perm Social Center in Kungur. Service members brought weapons, body armor and a helmet, emphasizing that "the main task of a man is to protect his Motherland, his home and family."


The Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences has estimated the labor shortage in Russia at nearly 5 million people, indicating a significant increase over the past two years.

Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Tour Operators of Russia association, reported another case of passports being confiscated at the border due to a clerical error in the document, which took place at Moscow Domodedovo airport. In this incident, the letter "й" ("y") was misspelled in the surname of a Russian woman. A similar case involving a man occurred at Domodedovo as well.

TASS [Russian state-owned news agency], citing the Federal Bailiff Service, has reported that nearly 5 million Russians will be unable to leave the country on the eve of the New Year holidays due to outstanding debts.


Nastoyashсheye Vremya [Current Time, an editorially independent US-funded Russian language media outlet] has interviewed military spouses who are advocating for the complete demobilization of their husbands. The interview explores how their lives have changed since their husbands were mobilized.

The Kavkaz.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has interviewed Cossack expert Richard Arnold regarding the participation of Cossacks in the war with Ukraine and the changes in the institution of Cossacks in Southern Russia following the commencement of the full-scale invasion