Debtors will be served with draft notices at banking facilities. This follows from the letter issued by the Russian Central Bank on Dec. 27 signed by its head Elvira Nabiullina and addressed to all banking institutions in the country. Based on the text of the letter, debtors will be handed draft notices and offered to sign a contract to enlist in the armed forces. In case of refusal to sign a contract or receive a draft notice, bank employees are instructed to record the refusal on video and immediately call the police. It is also recommended that banks do not use compulsory collection procedures for citizens serving in the armed forces. The risks of participating in general mobilization work for the entire banking sector as a whole are low —this is the consensus among the management of three major Russian banks: VTB, Gazprombank, and Alfa-Bank.
On Dec. 31, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported on the completion of the autumn conscription of citizens for military service. According to the Ministry, 120,000 people were conscripted into the armed forces and militarized state agencies. Authorities claim that conscripts are not involved in the "special military operation", and conscripted servicemen who have served the established terms of military service are dismissed in a timely manner and sent to their places of residence. It is not possible to independently confirm this, although it has been reported that "conscripts" are involved in ensuring the activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in frontline areas, where they come under fire, get injured or killed.
In a video message to Russian citizens, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov warns that on Jan. 5, Russia and Belarus will close their borders for men, the Kremlin will declare martial law and launch a new round of mobilization. According to him, residents of large cities will be drafted, since "many of those living upcountry have already been taken away." Russian authorities claim that a new wave of mobilization is not planned. However, a presidential decree on the completion of mobilization has not yet been signed. State agencies are collecting information about employees registered as reservists for "data reconciliation." Service members whose contracts have expired are prohibited from quitting military service because mobilization is officially ongoing. Also, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that military commissariats [enlistment offices] in Russian-occupied Crimea compiled lists of citizens subject to mobilization in 2023.
On the night of Jan. 1, a Ukrainian strike from the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system hit a vocational school in the Russian-occupied settlement of Makiivka (Donetsk region). The school building was sheltering Russian military personnel, including mobilized soldiers, mainly residents of the Saratov and Samara regions. Reports of the attack started emerging from the Russian military reporters and bloggers as early as on the evening of Jan. 1. At that point the Strategic Communications Department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed that 400 service members were killed and 300 wounded as a result of the attack. A significant number of casualties was confirmed by the former "Minister of Defense” of the “DPR" Igor Girkin (Strelkov) and some pro-Russian military reporters. On Jan. 2 the Russian Ministry of Defense admitted the attack, reporting that “63 servicemen were killed in the rocket attack at the building of vocational school No. 19 in Makiivka.” The building was completely destroyed, as shown by recent satellite imagery. Stationing of the troops in a building not adjusted for their safe lodging caused a storm of criticism from pro-Russian military reporters and experts. Contrary to this, state-owned media agencies and some military reporters speaking on behalf of Russian authorities alleged that the incident was a result of heavy cell phone activity of service members. Apparently, the incident in Makiivka is not the first strike at a temporary deployment base of mobilized troops in the combat zone.
In the meantime, Saratov residents write questions regarding the fate of their mobilized family members and close ones under the posts of region’s Governor Roman Busargin, but he still hasn’t given any comments on the accident [strike on the vocational school No. 19 in Makiivka]. Meanwhile, member of the Saratov regional parliament Aleksandr Yanklovich told that he had contacted the units from the Saratov region and found out that they were ok. Governor of the Samara region Dmitry Azarov confirmed the mobilized from the Samara region to have been killed in Makiivka, “Our fellow-countrymen were attacked by enemy forces as well. There are injured and, alas, there are killed. Currently, the information is being specified”. Two relatives of the mobilized, who managed to survive during the strike on the vocational school in the Russian-occupied Makiivka, told iStories [independent Russian investigative media outlet] about the accident. The wife of one of the servicemen claims that the information by the Russian MoD regarding 63 KIAs is false, “Much more were killed. They [allegedly corpses] are still being dragged out from under the debris.” Her husband managed to leave the building after the first hit. There were four hits in all. All the men whose relatives were interviewed by iStories were mobilized from the Samara region. Meanwhile, athe VKontakte social network community of the supporters of mobilized soldiers from the Samara region has started raising funds for clothing, generator sets and dishes for the sufferers of the accident, since all their belongings were destroyed by the strike.
On the night of Jan. 1, the first attempt to set fire to an enlistment office in 2023 in Russia took place. According to the Baza Telegram channel, an unknown person threw Molotov cocktails at the fence of the military commissariat of the Perovsky district in Moscow. A fire broke out but was quickly extinguished. No harm done. The pyro is wanted.
A mobilized resident of Kazan, Ivan Isaev, who lost his spleen 10 years ago as a result of a car accident, which we reported previously, was sent from Kazan for combat coordination despite his wife’s attempts to protest his mobilization.
The Auto-Alliance enterprise (Krasnodar) received a letter from a regional enlistment office demanding 20 men no older than 45 to be sent to the enlistment office to receive draft notices for a 45-days military training. It is necessary to arrive at the enlistment office by January 5 or 6. At the same time, in his letter, the military commissar refers to the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 994 of December 30, 2022 “On the conscription of citizens of the Russian Federation for military training.” We have to note that this decree is not in the database of officially published legal acts. In the meantime, according to the Mobilization Telegram channel, one of the Krasnodar printing houses received an urgent order to print 5,000 draft notices for mobilization.
The Russian Ministry of Defense continues to publish footage with the combat coordination of Russian and Belarusian military personnel as part of joint combat training exercises at a training ground in the Republic of Belarus. Mobilized mortars of the Western Military District located in the combat zone use 120mm mortars, and mobilized artillerymen of the Western Military District use 2A36 Giatsint-B towed 152mm field guns.
In his Telegram channel, the human rights attorney Pavel Chikov summarized the wartime year that exposed militarism in Russia’s internal affairs. He notes that “the general public felt the iron fist of the regime for the first time only once the mobilization was announced. Millions of draft notices received. Hundred of thousands sent to war. People in Russia no longer belong to themselves but are rather the property of the state. Avoiding or refusing to fight inevitably leads to punishment.” In the new year, Chikov expects repressions to intensify and the number of criminal prosecutions to increase.
Private Ilya Krugovoy made known that the soldiers at his unit — the 2nd battalion of the 43rd regiment — were asked to chip in a thousand rubles each to procure vehicles for the battalion. Service members from Kuzbas thanked their regional governor for his attention and a kindergarten for sending sweet presents and letters. One of the pro-Russian Telegram-channels published a video of a soldier dressed as Father Frost [Santa Clause] while also armed. As the “Santa” announces that he brought “presents” for Ukraine, which will be “handed out” by his “friends” from the artillery, an artillery round is fired.
In the Novosibirsk region, funds collected by a charity dedicated to assisting disabled people were redirected to procure gear for mobilized and volunteer soldiers as part of the campaign called Ryabina [rowan berry] that raised seven million rubles in total. Such “charity” drives appeared in Russia already in the first days of the war. In several Russian regions, enterprises withhold their workers’ day’s salary and forward the money for the needs of the military on a forced-volunteer basis. Earlier in Khabarovsk, department heads at the mayor’s office mailed letters “recommending” that employee donations for the military were collected. Same thing happened to the employees of the Achinsk alumina refinery in the Krasnoyarsk region. In Blagoveshchensk, children from military families were promised free kindergarten child care while the rest of the parents now pay higher prices. In other regions, politicians and government officials are announcing “humanitarian” fundraising drives for the needs of the military such as procurement of quadcopters, thermal vision devices, and other equipment. At least 15 Russian regions canceled official New Year celebrations and redirected the money saved to aid for draftees participating in the war in Ukraine. Schoolchildren and university students are being recruited into activities that support the military including making clothing, sewing blankets, fixing quadcopters, and stepping in for draftees gone to war at their workplaces.
In the Rostov region, they are looking for six convicts with weapons who escaped from the Wagner Group’s training center in the Krasnodon district, Luhansk region. In addition to Russians, there are citizens of Uzbekistan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan among them. The mercenaries were supposed to go to the war zone. Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, the owner of the Wagner Group] said that “he has all the necessary information.” Meanwhile, according to the DonDay local media outlet, all-points bulletins for six armed prisoners appeared in cafes and restaurants on Beregovaya Street in Rostov-on-Don.
Servicemen of the Main Directorate of Special Programs of the President of the Russian Federation abbreviated as GUSP may be allowed to privatize public housing. The directorate is engaged in mobilization, but at the same time its employees do not take part in combat activities.