mobilization briefs
February 18, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Feb. 16–17, 2023, CIT volunteer summary 

The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) [right-wing populist and ultranationalist political party] faction in the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] has prepared a bill introducing the term and status of "children of the special military operation." The new document is intended to help establish benefits and payments for them similar to the children of war [those who were minors during WW2], as LDPR leader Leonid Slutsky stated. It is noted that the bill not only addresses children from the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia but also children from the border areas of neighboring regions of Russia, for example, the Kursk and Belgorod regions.

Despite numerous statements by the Ministry of Defense of Russia confirming the validity of the draft exemption for citizens who have three or more dependent children, the draft office of the Stavropol region refuses to exempt such citizens. According to a letter from the Stavropol draft officer to State Duma member Nina Ostanina, the draft office is "implementing only the laws of the Russian Federation." Men with three children will not be demobilized until the law “On mobilization training” is amended accordingly.

Putin signed a law according to which the widows of the soldiers killed in the "special military operation" will receive social support, including a monthly payment, regardless of their family composition. However, the measures are valid only until they remarry.

In yesterday's summary, we reported that the Tomsk State Pedagogical University was recruiting people to work at mobilization alert stations. Today, an employee of the university told the TV-2 news agency that she was signed up to work at the station without her consent.

In the Archedinsky Forest College, Volgograd region, an employee of a military commissariat [enlistment office] spreads lists of students who supposedly need to appear at the military commissariat no later than Feb. 22. Students are required to sign next to their last name.

In the Belgorod region, on behalf of Putin, they began to provide new housing to people whose old housing was in the emergency zone due to the war in Ukraine. The floor space of ​​the new housing should be the same as that of the old one. Because of this, some Belgorod residents who own housing in settlements where the state of emergency has been introduced are urgently trying to register floor spaces larger than they actually have.

Two more mobilized soldiers were killed in the war in Ukraine: 32-year-old Aleksey Kirichenko from the Volgograd region and 45-year-old Dmitry Lyskov from the Kirov region.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, journalists from BBC News Russian and Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet], together with a team of volunteers, have succeeded in confirming the death of 14,709 Russian militaries, including 1,121 mobilized soldiers, 40% of whom were killed after Jan. 1. As BBC News Russian notes, in the first two weeks of February, journalists and volunteers managed to identify 1,679 killed — this is five times more than the usual weekly numbers.

At the cemetery of Voronino, a village near Tomsk, the number of graves of service members killed in the war is growing day by day. Where there used to be just one row of burials earlier, there are now three rows of graves. The earliest burial dates back to Feb. 26 of last year, while the latest one was held on Dec. 27. Among those laid to rest are both mobilized soldiers and mercenaries from the Wagner Group.

Mobilized citizens from Samara of the 1444th Regiment who had complained of being mistreated by officers and reassigned to different military units after the regiment was disbanded were arrested and forced to apologize; this information has now been verified. The video shows two service members accompanied by military police apologizing to the platoon aligned in a line formation, then being shoved back into the vehicle and taken away. It is reported that they are now again being forced to the forefront and coerced into signing contracts.

Not only draftees from Samara were being put under pressure by the command after having recorded a video appeal. Families of mobilized soldiers from several other regions argue that their sons and husbands faced severe consequences, too, after having complained of the command of the “DPR” army. Many servicemen report having their mobile phones taken away; others decry being forcibly reassigned to other military units. Mothers of draftees from Tatarstan [constituent republic of Russia] claim that the unit their sons served in was disbanded, with members being transferred to other units. In their new units, these soldiers are still put under duress, being threatened and forced into assault missions. Soldiers from other regions managed to inform their families of being reassigned to new units but have not been heard from since.

A relative of one of the draftees stationed near Kherson claims the man complains about heavy drinking among fellow soldiers and commanders, as well as receiving threats, including the use of weapons and a total lack of response from officers.

Human rights commissioner of the Sverdlovsk region Tatiana Merzlyakova reports that three servicemen have returned to the region from Ukrainian captivity. Among them is draftee Vitaly Miller.

TV Rain [Dozhd, an independent Russian TV channel] has released an interview with three Russian servicemen who have returned home from the war in Ukraine. They were all discharged after suffering severe wounds. Despite having health problems and their commanders being unqualified and indifferent to the fate of their subordinates, all three are willing to return to the combat zone.

A court in St. Petersburg refused to dismiss a contract serviceman diagnosed with lymphoma from service, referring to Putin's decree on "partial" mobilization.

The Kalininsky District Court of Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan,  sentenced Anzhelika Vyropayeva, the wife of the head of the enlistment office which services Ordzhonikidzevsky and Kalininsky districts, to three years of probation for facilitation of a bribe for military service exemption. She will also have to pay a fine of 510 thousand rubles.

A 22-year-old man was fined 150,000 rubles by the Soviet District Court of Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan, for participating in the September protests against the drafting of Kemran Agabekov. During the time of the investigation, the 22-year-old man was in jail. The court took this into account and decided to reduce the fine to 50 thousand rubles.

A man with objects resembling F-1 grenades was detained at the Kursk railway station in Moscow. The Baza Telegram channel reported that he also had anti-personnel landmines with him. The station area was secured. According to media reports, the detainee recently returned from the war in Ukraine.

A refugee from the Kharkiv region, 46-year-old Sergey Karamzin, who fled the war into the Russian Federation in November 2022, was detained in Moscow. On February 16, 2023, a criminal case was opened against him on sabotage allegations. According to Russian security officials, Karamzin allegedly set fire to a relay cabinet that regulates train traffic lights on the Podolsk-Grivno railway line.

A teacher from Kansk city in the Krasnoyarsk region is accused of damaging a banner that advertised military service. He shot at it with a hunting rifle because of his opposition to mobilization. In October, the teacher was detained and taken to the police station, where officers started beating him and threatening to rape him if he didn’t take the extra blame for setting fire to a draft office. There were abrasions on his body, traces of electric shocks and handcuffs, and his knees were scratched and bruised. The teacher shared the details of his torture with the news outlet.

One person was killed and three people injured by an explosion at the Chapaevsk Mechanical Works in the Samara region. The incident happened at the detonator cap assembly line. [Detonator caps are devices that trigger explosives as the fire from the lit fuse reaches them.]

A joint investigation by Le Monde newspaper, The Insider, and Bellingcat investigative media outlets reports that the Russian branch of the French retail chain Auchan is supplying aid to Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Shortly after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, St.Petersburg employees of the French retail chain took various items, including clothing, gas cylinders, and sleeping bags from the company’s warehouses and sent them to the Russian Army. Providing the items to the military was positioned as “humanitarian aid” even though only supplying the civilian population can be considered as such. Representatives from the Ukrainian branch of Auchan were shocked by this information and reached out to the headquarters in France for an explanation. The report also states that in addition to Auchan, the home improvement hypermarket chain Leroy Merlin could have taken part in supplying Russian troops as well.

Employees of Yakutsk district newspapers (part of the Sakhamedia holding) actively bake Z-shaped gingerbread cookies to send to the war. The campaign is called "Sweet news from the motherland" and is timed to coincide with Feb. 23 [Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia]. Meanwhile, in Tuva [Russia’s constituent republic], a mother of a deceased mobilized soldier was given a bag of dumplings. Officials timed the gift to coincide with the New Year, which Tuvans celebrate on Feb. 17.

In the Nizhny Novgorod region, the senior group of a kindergarten visited a military commissariat [enlistment office] in the town of Kulebaki. The reason for the visit was that the children "have insufficient ideas about patriotic education, about the Russian Army, and about people of military professions." Meanwhile, at a school in the Moscow suburb of Balashikha, children were met by guard-doormen soldiers. Reportedly, this was due to an ongoing "lesson of courage".

Reports continue to come in about interrogations of arriving men at Moscow airports. Earlier, several people contacted the Voyenny Ombudsmen [Military Ombudsman] project’s hotline, reporting that male travelers arriving at Moscow's Vnukovo airport are being questioned by border guards, who are reading their correspondence and looking through their phone photos. The Sirena Telegram channel asked its subscribers if they had experienced anything similar and now presents three stories.