In its report titled "Army in Numbers, 2023," the Ministry of Defense disclosed that 834,224 individuals were granted exemptions from mobilization. Of these, 256,100 (30.7%) were IT specialists, while 170,000 (20.4%) worked in the banking sector. Another 103,100 (12.4%) were employed in the energy sector, 54,500 (6.5%) in agriculture, and 206,900 (24.8%) in media and other sectors.
The Ministry of Defense also announced the end of the fall regular conscription campaign. The press release indicates that authorities have conscripted 130,000 individuals, adding that "the campaign faced negative pressure from foreign media, which primarily attempted to discredit the Armed Forces." Summing up the campaign results, the Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel noted that authorities conducted raids on potential conscripts earlier and in more regions than in any previous campaign. Among various at-risk groups, recently naturalized citizens and students whose military service deferment had expired were the most likely to be conscripted in a single day. The legal experts also stressed that new rules will apply to the next regular conscription campaign. The upper age limit will be raised to 30 years, although men, who managed to enroll in the reserve this year, will not be affected by the change. Moreover, authorities plan to use electronic draft notices for the regular conscription campaign next fall, but may test the first such notices during the spring campaign already.
Military spouses from the Put Domoy [Way Home] and the Myagkaya Sila [Soft Power] movements have launched a new campaign to support the families of mobilized soldiers. They propose adorning city Christmas trees with white ribbons with calls for the return of mobilized soldiers. The idea was shared with the Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] Telegram channel. Earlier, the Put Domoy movement had launched a campaign inviting everyone to put up stylized decorations with written demands for the return of mobilized soldiers.
Dolgoprudny [Moscow region] authorities have refused to approve a rally for military spouses, citing coronavirus restrictions. The rally was to be held on Jan. 6 in the town's Yusupovsky Square.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Aleksandr Vorobyov from the Tver region, Vadim Kachkaikin from the Chelyabinsk region, Vyacheslav Pustovarov, Yury Sergienko and Artyom Nalivkin from the Irkutsk region, as well as Viktor Tsvetkov from the Kostroma region.
Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 40,599 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine. This includes 4,915 mobilized soldiers. Last week, 589 more servicemen were added to the list, including 35 mobilized soldiers. Journalists note that by the end of 2022, they knew the names of over 10,000 killed. However, according to current estimates, at least 15,500 people were killed in 2022, meaning that in 2023, information about an additional 5,000 deaths in 2022 became known. As of the end of 2023, the list consists of over 40,500 names, and journalists expect the total for 2023 to increase by at least a third. Therefore, according to Mediazona, Russian forces suffered more significant losses in 2023 than in the first year of the war.
The names of three mobilized residents from the Irkutsk region, who were killed on Jan. 14 in an explosion at a military site in Tonenkoye, Belgorod region, have been revealed. The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet investigated the details of the incident, revealing that their drunken commander threw a grenade into the room where three soldiers were sleeping. Gas cylinders were stored under the soldiers' beds, and the only window was boarded up. Relatives were able to bury the remains of those killed almost a year after the incident.
In Russia's constituent Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, ten servicemen returning from the war have been held under military police guard for several weeks. No investigative measures have been taken against them, and they have not been charged. As reported to the Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] Telegram channel by the detainees themselves, they were isolated on the orders of the unit commander. Many of them returned from the frontline due to health reasons and refuse to go back to the war for personal reasons.
The Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the news] Telegram channel has published another video showing military police in the village of Kamenka near Vyborg sending back to the frontline soldiers who had not recovered from injuries and could not move normally (the first video was mentioned in the previous summary). The recording was provided by a soldier who claims to have witnessed a similar situation in the same unit in mid-December. According to him, even men on crutches were forced to board buses. They were promised to be sent for treatment to Voronezh, but ended up being taken in the direction of the Kharkiv region.
Soldiers continue to complain about the lack of promised government payments and compensation. For example, a 19-year-old volunteer fighter from the Yaroslavl region has not received regional payments, despite his active participation in the war. Authorities in both his home region and the Ivanovo region, where he signed a contract, have refused to provide these payments, citing regulations. Another volunteer fighter from the Vladimir region, who spent over six months on the frontline, also mentioned the absence of payments and rewards from the state.
The mother of Viktor Petrov, a mobilized soldier from the Irkutsk region who was found hanged in Ukraine, has received the Order of Courage—a decoration her son was awarded by Vladimir Putin in July 2023. This recognition seems to be a response to the widespread public outcry over the circumstances of his death. Petrov had complained of torture by the military police before his death. His mother succeded in filing a criminal case for incitement to suicide.
The regional court in Volgograd has overturned the initial decision prohibiting the posting of news regarding casualties in the war against Ukraine involving residents of the region. The ban was successfully contested as the draft office failed to prove that the reports contained state secrets. Furthermore, the journalists' intention was to "commemorate the memory of the deceased rather than jeopardize national security."
A resident of Barnaul chose to enlist in the military after enforcement authorities initiated a criminal case against him for non-payment of alimony.
In the Orenburg region, a court has deferred the sentence of a man convicted under the article "sexual intercourse with a person under sixteen." In October, a local resident was sentenced to 180 hours of compulsory labor, but appealed to the court for a deferment of the sentence due to signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense. The court sided with the man. It is worth noting that, according to amendments to the Military Conscription and Military Service Act passed in the summer, the "sexual intercourse" article does not prevent signing contracts with the Ministry of Defense.
Victor Zabolotsky, a participant in the war with Ukraine from Russia's constituent republic of Sakha (Yakutia), has been sentenced to seven and a half years in a penal colony for intentional murder. In June, after the national holiday of Yhyakh, he fatally stabbed an individual using a knife gifted to him by the head of the region. The court concluded that the motive behind the crime was the victim's unlawful behavior—he had made offensive remarks about Zabolotsky's participation in the "special military operation."
The Vladimir Garrison Military Court has sentenced Valery Shumilov, a participant in the war with Ukraine previously convicted for going AWOL, to nine years of imprisonment for the murder of a drinking companion who expressed negative views about the invasion of Ukraine. The court considered his participation in the war, his injury and his apologies to the victim as mitigating circumstances during the sentencing.
According to Mediazona analysis, Russian military courts have handled 5,024 cases of soldiers going AWOL in 2023, marking an absolute record for such cases. In 2022, only 1,001 cases were brought to court, and the preceding year saw 615 cases. By the end of 2023, military courts were delivering 500 verdicts per month. Additionally, 148 cases were prosecuted under desertion charges, and another 421 cases involved the charge of failure to execute orders.
In Belgorod, a court has sentenced a 20-year-old resident of the city of Tver to four years of imprisonment for preparing to commit treason. The unnamed young man was apprehended allegedly attempting to cross the border with Ukraine to join the "Freedom of Russia Legion." According to the Federal Security Service (FSB), he also planned to set fire to a draft office.
The human rights project Zona Solidarnosti [Solidarity zone] reports that Ilya Baburin, a 24-year-old from Novosibirsk accused of attempting to set fire to a draft office, faces four more criminal charges. In September, he was charged with illegal possession of special means due to the discovery of a GPS tracker during a search and an act of terror allegedly related to the arson attempt at a music school. In December, two more charges were added: participation in an illegal armed group and involvement in the activities of a terrorist organization. Initially accused of aiding terrorist activities, new charges of engaging in terrorism and attempting treason were later added to the case.
The FSB in the Krasnodar region has announced the detention of a local who allegedly attempted to go to Ukraine to fight against the Russian Army. The man is facing charges of high treason.
According to Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet], the Investigative Committee of the occupied Melitopol has closed the case of the abduction of Leonid Popov by the military. The decision is based on a black-and-white photograph sent from the FSB, in which Popov holds a piece of paper stating he does not want to disclose his location. The committee called the father of 23-year-old Leonid and demanded to revoke the statement about his son's abduction. Meanwhile, in official responses, the FSB writes to the parents that it knows nothing about the abducted person. It is worth noting that Russian law enforcement abducted Leonid Popov in late April. In late July, the exhausted Leonid ended up in the hospital, where he was able to tell his mother that he had been beaten and tortured. His previously diagnosed mental disorder worsened during the ordeal.
Head of Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic] Alexey Tsydenov has invited participants of the "special military operation" on his Telegram channel to undergo retraining and become teachers. A monthly stipend of 42,279 rubles [$470] will be provided during the retraining period.
The Ne Norma [Not a norm] Telegram channel has released statistics on the militarization of Russian schools, revealing that it is not isolated to individual cases but a systemic issue. The Russian government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in "patriotic education," establishing military training centers for teenagers and involving war participants, some without teaching education and occasionally ex-convicts, in children's education.
The Russian Field company has conducted a sociological survey, asking 1,600 Russians by phone what they would wish their fellow citizens in the new year. 50% of respondents wished for "peaceful skies and the end of the special military operation." The wish for peace is particularly prevalent in the age group of 40 years and older, reaching a maximum of almost 68% in the group of the elderly (60 years and older). Young people under 30 expressed wishes for optimism and patience, totaling almost 30%. The second most popular wish is for health (40%). Only 6% of Russians would like Russia to win the war.
The SOTA media outlet has recorded an interview with Maria Andreeva, one of the active participants of the Put Domoy community, which aims to bring mobilized soldiers home. During the interview, Maria shared her thoughts on the war, Putin and mobilization.