Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko has announced that the federal government is proposing to extend draft exemption to IT professionals without a higher education degree. He mentioned that the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media is working with industry representatives to develop a qualification exam for IT professionals.
Amendments to a bill on volunteer fighter units would create the legal basis for young men to perform their compulsory military service within the Federal Security Service (FSB). The Sota media outlet notes, however, that lawmakers are keen to prevent "foreign agent" conscripts from serving in the FSB.
The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel has reported one more case of illegal conscription in Moscow. Oleg Ivanov, a 19-year-old student in his second year at a technical school in the Rostov region, had taken academic leave to work in Moscow. However, on Nov. 24, during another roundup, law enforcement officers raided the hostel where Oleg was staying. Since then, he has been unreachable, and his whereabouts are unknown. His mother has reported his disappearance and kidnapping to the police. Legal experts note that, while conscription of students on academic leave is illegal, countering the actions of draft offices is challenging because legal proceedings can take up to six months.
Authorities in Nepal have detained 10 individuals, suspected of recruiting people for the war against Ukraine. A police representative indicated that they had opened a human smuggling case. Investigators believe the suspects were illegally charging unemployed young men from Nepal up to $9,000 dollars and sending them to Russia on tourist visas, where they were recruited into the army upon arrival. Earlier, Nepalese authorities appealed to the Russian Federation to stop recruiting Nepalese citizens into its Armed Forces.
A Somali citizen, who was prevented from entering Finland from Russia due to the closure of border crossings, told BBC News Russian that he had been offered to volunteer for the war. Initially detained for having an expired visa, he was ordered by the court to be deported from Russia and sent to a center for the temporary detention of foreigners. According to the man, uniformed men came to the center and offered him and other foreigners the option to "work for the state" to avoid deportation. Without fully understanding the consequences, he signed a document. Subsequently, he was one of twelve people taken by bus to a tent camp on the Ukrainian border. When the men realized where they were, they refused to participate in the war despite threats. On Dec. 4, it was announced that their agreements would be terminated, and they would be sent back to detention centers, likely to face deportation from Russia.
In Saint Petersburg, a crime boss was summoned to a draft office for a military register data check-up. According to the Fontanka online media outlet, the police were unable to persuade witnesses to testify against the man, who was arrested on charges of hooliganism. As a result, they invited a military commissar to issue a draft notice. It should be noted that, according to video footage, the man is not a Russian citizen; he has a temporary ID for a stateless person.
Former Nefteyugansk city police chief Nikolay Plaksin has joined the war after being convicted of bribery. According to former colleagues, Plaksin is trying to avoid a prison sentence, as reported by the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] media outlet. It is alleged that he volunteered for the war "out of desperation." Earlier, the court sentenced Plaksin to one and a half years in a penal settlement and a fine of 500,000 rubles [USD 5,400].
Relatives of a missing serviceman from Komi [Russia's constituent republic] have been trying to find out his fate for over a year. In mid-September 2022, the man stopped communicating, and in October, individuals claiming to be members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine began calling the relatives. Some suggested to "collect his remains from the field and bury them properly," while others told them to head to Donetsk to rescue him from captivity. The Ministry of Defense says they are searching for the serviceman but cannot provide a timeline for any results.
A contract soldier from the town of Chebarkul serving in the 90th Tank Division has been arrested for the rape of a minor. According to the Astra Telegram channel, 21-year-old Kirill Fedulov was detained for the rape of a 17-year-old student in the Kurgan region.
In the Krasnoyarsk region, a 24-year-old war participant has been arrested on suspicion of murdering his father. The man asked his 63-year-old father for help in feeding the pigs, and when he refused, a fight ensued. According to investigators, as reported by the Borus Telegram channel, the man had a previous conviction for murder before participating in the war.
A military court in Moscow has issued the first known verdict on a case involving the violation of combat duty rules for repelling a sudden attack on Russian territory, sentencing Russian Armed Forces officers Anatoly Bondarev and Dmitry Dmitrakov to four years in a penal colony. According to investigators, in April 2022, they failed to save a military equipment warehouse near the village of Staraya Nelidovka in the Belgorod region from a Tochka-U (SS-21 Scarab) missile strike, resulting in the deaths of seven servicemen, 43 being wounded, and 15 units of equipment being destroyed.
In the Rostov region, an appellate court upheld the sentence of a contract soldier who tried to sell two assault rifles and a grenade illegally brought from the "DPR." Previously, he was sentenced to six years in a maximum-security penal colony.
In the Kurgan region, a criminal case has been initiated against a 20-year-old resident accused of draft evasion. The Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Kurgan region reports that the young man evaded visits to the military commissariat [enlistment office] from December 2022 to October 2023, despite receiving draft notices.
In Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic], the prosecutor has requested a five-year penal colony for Ramila Saitova under the charge of publicly inciting activities against the state's security. In November 2022, Saitova addressed mobilized soldiers in the region, urging those "who disagree with killing people" to return home.
The court of cassation overturned the verdict for Aleksey Moskalyov, convicted of "repeatedly discrediting the Armed Forces," and sent the case for a new review in the appeals instance. Moskalyov had previously been sentenced to two years in penal colony. Following his escape from house arrest, he was apprehended in Belarus by local authorities and extradited to Russia.
Mayor of Sochi Aleksey Kopaygorodsky announced the decision to forgo New Year's fireworks in the city to redirect the saved funds to support the Russian Army. He called on the city's residents to follow the authorities' example. Meanwhile, the speaker of the Saratov regional Duma [regional assembly] suggested redirecting funds intended for New Year's corporate events to the war effort, and the time allocated for such events to be used for crafting camouflage nets and making trench candles.
In the Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject], the compensation for firewood provided to relatives of all categories of military personnel, including those killed, has been raised. The maximum payout has now reached 18,000 rubles [$190], compared to the previous amount of 4,000 rubles [$40].
Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov), the head of the Crimea Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church [also known as "Putin's Confessor"], has announced a "collective contribution" among parishioners to support the war against Ukraine. Additionally, he instructed students of Sunday schools to write "letters with Christmas greetings" to soldiers by Dec. 25.
Convicts from the 11th penal colony in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject] have initiated the production of camouflage nets for Russian soldiers. Meanwhile, in Saint Petersburg, activists from the "Children of War" organization have crafted 50 pairs of socks for invasion participants.
Governor of the Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject] Oleg Kozhemyako announced the transfer of a large batch of aid from the region to the 5th Army and the 83rd Air Assault Brigade. Russian soldiers will receive weaponry, communication equipment, drones, specialized equipment, footwear and clothing.
In the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra, relatives of Russian soldiers took part in a "fashion show," where women showcased designer clothing in a military style.
In Buryatia, activists from the Prometheus volunteer movement visited a local school where they were greeted by children dressed in military uniforms and holding portraits of local residents who were killed in the war. The children performed the song "Stork on the Roof."
A "hero's desk" has been set up in one of the schools in the Moscow region in honor of a 26-year-old local resident who was killed in the war. Only distinguished students will be able to sit at it. A similar desk has also been installed in a school in the Krasnodar region.
Minister of Education Sergey Kravtsov has informed Vladimir Putin that the schoolchildren's movement Orlyata Rossii [Eaglets of Russia] will now admit children from preschools. According to historian Lev Lurie, even in the USSR, children and youth were not admitted into patriotic movements at such an early age.
The question of ending the war turned out to be three times more popular than inquiries about salary and pension increases, according to sociologists from the Levada Center. The primary concern of Russians seeking information from Putin during the December Direct Line, was the topic of war and mobilization, with the majority of respondents (21%) wanting to know when and how the war will end. However, pro-government media, citing the organizers of the Direct Line, claim that "the majority of appeals concern healthcare, pensions, benefits for large families and gasification," without mentioning the "special military operation" among the popular topics.
The family of Aleksey Pashnin, a 29-year-old draftee from the Ust-Kulomsky district of Komi who was killed, has been denied payments. The Ministry of Defense stated that he died from "injuries caused by unspecified combat operations" and denied compensation. However, relatives believe that Aleksey was killed by his fellow soldiers.
Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet], has learned about the existence of "disabled" units on the frontline. These units are composed of soldiers who are disabled and unfit for service, yet they are sent to assault squads without receiving proper medical treatment or examination.
Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] conducted interviews with women who connected through the Put Domoy [Way Home] Telegram channel—a platform for relatives of mobilized soldiers. These women are now united in their efforts to bring their husbands back from Ukraine and are actively involved in administering the channel. Meanwhile, the Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet published a story from a member of the movement of military spouses in Saint Petersburg. The story details how and why she is fighting for her husband's return from the frontline.