mobilization briefs
February 20

Mobilization in Russia for Feb. 18-19, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Alexei Navalny’s Death

Yulia Navalnaya appeared on the Navalny YouTube channel, where she announced that she will carry on his cause, calling on people to stand together with her in the struggle “for our country.” “We know why Putin killed Alexei three days ago. We will reveal the specific reasons soon,” she declared. Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] published a full transcript of her address. Navalnaya also met with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. After meeting with her, Borrell stated that Vladimir Putin will be held accountable for Navalny’s death. Moreover, the European Council demanded that the Russian Federation allow an international investigation into Alexei Navalny’s death. The UK government also intends to push for a comprehensive investigation to hold those responsible to account. US President Joe Biden indicated that he is considering introducing new sanctions following the death of Alexei Navalny.

Employees of the morgue in Salekhard denied entry to Alexei Navalny’s mother and “literally kicked out” his lawyer. A representative of the Investigative Committee indicated that further checks must be completed before the body can be released, but did not say how long this would take. The cause of death “has still not been established,” indicated Alexei Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh. Later, Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote that investigators say they need 14 more days to carry out a “chemical examination” and cannot release the body before then. Yarmysh also confirmed this information.

Mediazona has identified a convoy of the Federal Penitentiary Service through surveillance cameras, which on the night of Feb. 17, before the arrival of Navalny's mother and lawyers, moved between the towns of Labytnangi and Salekhard, which is the only ground route to Salekhard from the colony in Kharp. The convoy could have been transporting Navalny's body. Shortly thereafter, the internet provider restricted access to the surveillance camera broadcasts in Salekhard. However, Mediazona downloaded archives from two cameras covering the period during Feb. 11-17 and made them publicly available. Journalists are urging others to join in examining these videos and report any observations to the editorial team that may be useful in investigating the circumstances of Alexei Navalny's death.

Meanwhile, over 54,000 people have submitted requests to the Investigative Committee demanding the release of Alexei Navalny's body to his family.

In at least 190 population centers across Russia, memorials have appeared and events have been held in memory of Alexei Navalny. In most cases, these memorials are erected near monuments to victims of political repression. Many of them are destroyed by law enforcement officers, communal workers, and pro-government activists. In many cities, law enforcement officers detain those who bring flowers and placards. According to the OVD-Info independent human rights project, by the evening of Feb. 19, 396 people have already been detained in 39 cities across Russia.

By the night of Feb. 18 in Saint Petersburg, 199 people who came to honor the memory of Alexei Navalny were held administratively accountable. Of these, 154 were arrested for up to 14 days, while another 19 people were sentenced to compulsory labor or fines. All were charged with mass gathering in a public place, causing a disturbance. Since there was not enough space in the Saint Petersburg detention facilities to accommodate everyone, several individuals were sent 280 kilometers away to the town of Podporozhye in the Leningrad region. A Moscow court sentenced Nabiulla Balabekov, who was detained with a placard at the Wall of Grief monument, to 15 days of arrest. After the court hearing, the man reported threats of torture and beatings from police officers. Law enforcement officers threatened an 18-year-old resident of Ulyanovsk, who was detained at an impromptu memorial for Navalny, saying they might cut off his finger with a saw and send him to the war. However, the young man was released without a formal report after he provided an explanation. Meanwhile, in Samara, a court deemed the act of laying flowers as petty hooliganism and fined the detained man 700 rubles [$7.6].

Despite the authorities' pressure, residents of Russia continue to honor Navalny's memory. In Belgorod, people are leaving candles and flowers in various places around the city in memory of the politician, as they are afraid of being detained at the monument to victims of political repression. In Novosibirsk, the monument to the victims of political repression has been cordoned off for three days, but people periodically come to leave flowers in the snow nearby. Meanwhile, in Tomsk, police officers are distributing warnings about "the inadmissibility of continuing anti-social behavior" to residents who bring flowers to the monument to victims of repression.

After mass online protests, online map services 2GIS and Yandex Maps banned reviews of monuments to victims of political repression. At regional radio stations, news about Aleksey Navalny is now subject to censorship.

Reverend Grigory Mikhnov-Vaytenko reports that he is gradually recovering from the stroke he suffered while in police custody.

The Grazhdanskaya Initsiativa [Civic Initiative] party filed an application with the Moscow mayor’s office to conduct a march in memory of Nemtsov and Navalny. The planned route for the March 2nd march is from Strastnoy Boulevard to Sakharov Prospect. The organizers expect up to 50,000 participants.

Aftermath of the Bashkortostan protests

The Prufy [Proofs] media outlet counted 64 Bashkortostan residents facing criminal charges for participating in protests in Baymak. The majority of these cases are for participating in mass unrest. According to activists, shortly before he committed suicide, the protester Manniyar Bayguskarov had been brutally assaulted. Also, demands had been made of him to inform on others, something he refused. This could have caused Bayguskarov’s suicide.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

According to Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, over 53,000 people signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense to participate in the war in Ukraine since the beginning of the year. At the end of 2023, authorities announced that 500,000 people signed contracts during the past year while at the end of January, Putin said that over 600,000 were serving in the combat zone.

Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] has revealed attempts by the Ministry of Defense to recruit convicts from women's prisons for the war in Ukraine as assault troops. Ex-convicts from penal colony No. 2 in the Leningrad region informed journalists about this. The publication also managed to identify the names of two women who agreed to go to the frontline. Representatives of the Ministry of Defense visited the colony several times, offering a one-year contract. Before deployment to the frontline, women were promised two months of training, and upon completing the contract, they were assured of pardon. Between 20 and 50 women agreed, but none have been taken from the colony so far.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

In Moscow on Feb. 17, wives of the mobilized from the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Law enforcement officers checked documents of journalists but did not detain them this time. However, the day before, the police issued warnings to Moscow politicians and journalists. In Novosibirsk, the police cordoned off a monument where relatives of the mobilized laid flowers in memory of fallen soldiers.

In the official Put Domoy chat, wives of mobilized soldiers have announced a rally to mark the second anniversary of the war. They invited people to come to Moscow on Feb. 24 at 12:00 to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden. Activists also called on widows to join the action. Furthermore, representatives of the Put Domoy movement stated that the wives of the mobilized would vote for the least pro-war candidate in the Russian presidential elections and reported increased pressure from the authorities on the movement's members and their husbands after the death of Alexei Navalny.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Ilya Bikmurzin from Russia's constituent Republic of Bashkortostan, Sergey Likhovtsov and Aleksandr Maslikov from the Volgograd region.

Based on open sources, Mediazona and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 44,654 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine, including 5,354 mobilized soldiers. Since the last update on Feb. 2, the list has been supplemented with 1,194 soldiers, 138 of whom were mobilized.

The governor administration of the Samara region will be led by a deputy who returned from the war. Dmitry Kholin, a former mayor of the town of Zhigulevsk, was mobilized in the fall of 2022, but Governor of the Samara region Dmitry Azarov signed an order appointing Kholin to the post. Kholin will begin his duties from Feb. 19. The reason for his dismissal from service was not reported.

According to relatives of Konstantin Shalashny, a mobilized soldier who spent nearly a year in a combat zone and suffered a spinal injury, he was denied assistance after being sent home for treatment.

The Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel has reported a tenfold increase in the number of requests for desertion assistance over the year. Out of the 2,086 requests received during the year, half were from contract soldiers who had signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense after the start of the war, 30% from mobilized soldiers, another 10% from contract soldiers who had served before the war began, and the remaining 10% from other categories.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

During competitions at a sports school in the occupied city of Melitopol, an ammunition explosion occurred. According to the Astra Telegram channel, the incident took place during sambo competitions while the Dnepr Cossack volunteer brigade was demonstrating weapons, which "resulted in a shot from a hand-held grenade launcher." Six people, including one child, were injured.

In wanted posters for deserters, the police accompany the posted information with the words "He abandoned his fellow soldiers." Such an announcement has appeared in Krasnodar. However, for other crimes, the police do not disclose the actions of the wanted individual.

In Stavropol, contract soldier Sergey Gorshkov was found guilty of hooliganism. In September 2023, while intoxicated, Gorshkov fired a flare gun at passersby. He faced up to seven years of imprisonment, but the court sentenced him to one and a half years on probation.

Atesh [a military partisan movement in the occupied territories of Ukraine and in Russia] has reported of sabotage in the Volgograd region. According to representatives of the movement, their "agent" set fire to a relay cabinet at the Maxim Gorky station in Volgograd.

Former police officer Konstantin Podoshvelev is suspected of recruiting for the “Freedom of Russia Legion” and vandalism.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) reported the killing of Russian Vitaly Dyatlenko during his arrest, alleging that he was preparing to assassinate a “politician” in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. Additionally, the FSB has reported the arrest of an Izhevsk resident on charges of treason. According to the agency, he was working for Ukrainian intelligence services and now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Human rights activists have highlighted the abuse of 20-year-old Valeriya Zotova, who was convicted for attempting to set fire to a collection point for aid to Russian soldiers.


Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has announced that the government will allocate 18 billion rubles [$195 million] to the Defenders of the Fatherland Fund. According to him, the funds will be used to "purchase medical items and technical rehabilitation systems."

Children and Educational System

Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, speaking at the plenary session "Talking About Important Things: Education Sphere," stated that by the end of 2024, "72% of children should become patriots."


According to sociologists cited by the Vyorstka media outlet, the majority of Russians (56% in the summer of 2022 and 53% in September 2023) do not expect any personal gain from a possible victory in the war in Ukraine. Find more details on what else Russians think about victory and defeat in the war, on the Vyorstka website.

The Demografiya Upala [Demography Decreased] Telegram channel explained why men from Tuva and other national republics are more often prone to participate in the war.