Yevgeny Fyodorov, a member of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], has commented on the deletion of a draft bill, which sought to harmonize the military service upper age limit during mobilization. He indicated that the authors are currently "refining the wording of the current version." It is worth noting that they had not formally introduced the bill in the State Duma.
CNN has reported that Russia has recruited up to 15,000 Nepali mercenaries for the war against Ukraine. According to the media outlet, Nepali citizens, who wish to join the ranks of the Russian Armed Forces, enter the country on tourist visas. In return, Russian authorities offer these recruits a $2,000 monthly salary and a fast-tracked process to obtain a Russian passport. Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] noted that official statistics do indicate a sharp increase in the number of "tourists" from Nepal, although not as substantial as suggested by CNN sources. According to the Federal Security Service (FSB), the number of Nepalese tourists jumped from 72 in 2022 to 1,039 in 2023, with the majority, over 700 individuals, arriving in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Authorities in Novosibirsk have reported that, as a result of January roundups, 50 naturalized citizens were compelled to register for military service. Among them, six, along with 10 foreign citizens, signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense. Another raid, described as a "screening of migrants who acquired Russian citizenship but failed to register for military service," took place in the Kyakhtinsky District in Buryatia, Russia's constituent republic. Draft office and Investigative Committee officials, together with police officers, visited the town markets, controlled 46 men and took 16 of them to a draft office. Meanwhile, in Omsk, representatives of a contract military service recruitment facility met with employees of the city’s enterprises in an attempt to recruit them to participate in the war against Ukraine.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Aleksey Lifatov from the Vladimir region, Artyom Shirinkin and Ivan Yuzhakov from the Tyumen region, Ivan Ponomaryov from the Vologda region and Aleksey Tsaplin from the Irkutsk region.
The Omsk Civil Association reported on the death of Vladimir Netesa, a resident of the Omsk region who was sentenced to 12 years in a penal colony for murdering his seven-year-old stepson in 2019 but was recruited to war after serving less than two years. According to the Omsk Civil Association, Netesa died of wounds in a hospital in the Russian-occupied city of Luhansk.
A serviceman from the 1st Motorized Rifle Brigade, formerly part of the "DPR" People's Militia, has recorded a video appeal. In it, he alleges that his command is assigning him on suicide missions as retaliation for complains about beatings of his fellow soldiers, lack of pay, refusal to provide medical treatment for the wounded, and a recent incident where a group of soldiers was held handcuffed and denied access to food and restroom facilities for several days. As a result of his numerous complaints, several commanding officers have faced disciplinary action. However, the serviceman believes that some remaining members of the command in his unit are seeking revenge by exposing him to life-threatening situations. He points out that he has been moved from his role as a UAV operator to assault troops and sent "against artillery." The serviceman is appealing for assistance to transfer him to the "normal regular Russian Army" as he wishes to disassociate himself from the local military command.
Relatives of the four sailors missing in action from the Novocherkassk large landing ship are still unable to obtain any information about their fate from the Ministry of Defense. The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel discovered posts on the Odnoklassniki social network regarding the search for 22-year-old Nikita Druzhinin, 26-year-old Vladislav Lapko, 25-year-old Vasily Shevchenko and 33-year-old Aleksey Ushakov. The relatives hope that the young men have survived and are in a hospital. As of now, out of the 33 officially listed as missing in action, the names of one deceased and nine missing are known.
The court in the town of Borzya has sentenced soldier Aleksey Klimov to two years and two months of penal settlement for failing to execute orders during an armed conflict. The man refused to go on a "service trip to perform combat and special tasks." From 2023 to 2024, the Borzya Garrison Military Court received 14 cases of refusal to execute orders during combat. At least five of them resulted in two-year penal settlement sentences.
In Buryatia, contract soldier Vladimir Danovsky received three and a half years of penal settlement for a combination of sentences, including going AWOL and theft.
The Omsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced mobilized pacifist Vladislav Krennik to five years in a penal settlement on charges of going AWOL. In September 2022, immediately after receiving a draft notice, Krennik informed the draft office of his pacifist beliefs and presented medical certificates confirming his back problems. Despite this, he was still sent to serve in a unit in Omsk. When Krennik learned that his unit was being deployed to the war with Ukraine, he approached the unit commander with a report, stating that his beliefs prevented him from killing and requested a transfer to alternative military service. However, his request was refused. Subsequently, Krennik deserted the unit and returned home, where he attempted suicide, leading to his admission to a psychiatric hospital. After being discharged, he was detained by military police.
In Saint Petersburg, a prosecutor has requested a 12-year sentence in a penal colony for 67-year-old woman Zhumangul Kurbanova, for setting fire to the door of a draft office. This comes despite the fact that she admitted her guilt, expressed remorse and fully compensated for the damage caused.
A Belarusian citizen has been detained on suspicion of arson of a traction substation in Tula. According to the FSB, he acted "on the instructions of Ukrainian intelligence services" and then went to Voronezh to commit another act of sabotage. A criminal case has been initiated against him for sabotage, and he faces up to 20 years of imprisonment.
The 2nd Western District Military Court has received a criminal case against Sergey Karmazin, a 45-year-old Ukrainian citizen, who is facing charges under eight articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The man was detained in February 2023. According to law enforcement, he set fire to two railroad relay cabinets under orders from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Initially, Karmazin was only charged with sabotage. However, during the investigation, he was denied access to an attorney. By the time his case reached the court, seven new charges appeared, including espionage and training to commit sabotage.
The 2nd Easter District Military Court has found an Omsk resident Denis Shadrin, 22, guilty of high treason, participating in activities conducted by a terrorist organization, and sabotage. Shadrin was then sentenced to 16 years in a maximum security penal colony. The FSB detained him in June 2023 for setting fire to a relay cabinet. The young man himself stated that he committed arson in order to prevent military vehicles located in eastern Russia from reaching the front.
The State Duma is considering commemorating the anniversary of the war with Ukraine in schools. Yana Lantratova, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education, has proposed designating February 24 as the Day of the Beginning of the Special Military Operation. The plan involves educating students about the history of the war, explaining its causes and goals, and covering the main events from the perspective of the Russian government. Combat participants will be invited to take part in official proceedings. Lantratova believes that a "deficit of patriotically-minded coverage of the special military operation" has a negative impact on the upbringing of the youth.
In 2023, 193,000 teachers resigned from Russian schools, marking the highest number in seven years, as reported by Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet]. With a total of 1,347,000 teachers in Russia, the resignations in 2023 accounted for just over 14% of the total. Over the past seven years, the number of resigning teachers has increased by a third: in 2017, 141,800 teachers left their positions, while in 2023, the number rose to 193,500.
The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet noted that during a "lesson of courage" at School No. 31 in Ulan-Ude, participants of the invasion of Ukraine presented children with a flag of the Wagner Group bearing the inscription "Nothing personal, just business." The names of the participants were not disclosed, but the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet found out that in the photo with students in Ulan-Ude were Yury Garmazhapov, head of the veterans' organization of the 160th Tank Regiment, Tsydyp Damdinov, a member of the Combat Brotherhood [All-Russian public organization of veterans], and Victor Plesovskikh, a recipient of the Order of Courage.
In the Moscow region, "volunteers" from the Ministry of Defense have started training students from 511 classes in operating UAVs. The course on drone operation and assembly for children will last until mid-April and will conclude with an exam.
In the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region-Yugra [Russia's federal subject], the local school management plans to organize a series of war games for schoolchildren. These games will replace the Fundamentals of Life Safety lessons and will be held after regular classes. During the militarized relay races, children will be required to assemble and disassemble assault rifles and provide first aid.
The My Military Toy contest was held among kindergarteners in Rostov-on-Don. Over 80 children, aged 5 to 7, participated in the competition, where they were tasked with drawing pictures, creating crafts and making military toys.
Residents of the Belgorod region have requested to grant children from border regions the status of Children the "special military operation." They addressed this proposal to Vyacheslav Gladkov [governor of the Belgorod region] and asked him to convey it to Putin. Within the framework of this suggested status, special preferential conditions for enrollment in universities, material assistance and free medical services for these children are recommended to be introduced.
Governor of the Saratov Region Roman Busargin has established the medal "For Assistance in the Special Military Operation" for volunteers supporting Russian invasion forces and residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine.
The Rotonda independent media outlet shared the story of Dmitry Makhayev, who was formerly employed at the PMC Wagner Center and has recently signed a contract with the Skif Cossack battalion to participate in the war.
A correspondent from the Spektr [Spectrum] independent media outlet managed to visit the Zakhid-1 [West-1] prisoner of war camp for Russian soldiers in the Lviv region. There, he found not only representatives of Russian ethnic minorities but also people from Central Asia—Tajikistan and Uzbekistan nationals. However, residents from Chechnya and Ingushetia [Russia’s constituent republics] were not present in the POW camp. You can read the second article in this series to find out the reasons behind this. The first part of the report is available here.