mobilization briefs
February 5

Mobilization in Russia for Feb. 2-4, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

On Feb. 3, women gathered in Moscow for the ninth consecutive Saturday to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Put Domoy [Way Home] movement timed the event to coincide with the 500th day since the beginning of mobilization and called on “all who care” to join in. Navalny’s team and politicians Maxim Katz and Yekaterina Duntsova have also endorsed the initiative. The Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the News] Telegram channel reported, however, that the number of participants was low—around 200 people, including many media representatives. Female relatives of soldiers mobilized from outside the capital joined for the first time. They recounted how their loved ones were rounded up during mobilization and spoke out for peace.

The Volunteer Company [a state-backed entity that holds different pro-military events] planned a provocation during the flower-laying ceremony, offering to pay 1,000 rubles [$11] per hour of presence in the Alexander Garden, but later did not disclose the exact gathering place and deleted the correspondence instead. Ostorozhno, Novosti reported that unidentified individuals, possibly provocateurs from the Volunteer Company, were seen recording the meeting’s participants on video.

At 11:45 Moscow time, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office issued a warning about an "unauthorized rally." Immediately after the conclusion of the flower-laying event, police began detaining journalistspresent at Manezhnaya Square without providing explanations. According to the Sota media outlet, nearly all male journalists were detained. Among them were correspondents from Ostorozhno, Novosti, Sota.Vision, Kommersant, France Press, Spiegel, as well as human rights activists from the For Human Rights movement. Maria Andreeva, a representative of the Put Domoy movement, attempted to block the police van holding detainees, claiming a relative of a mobilized soldier was among them. However, she was pushed aside, and the police van left Red Square. The 27 detainees were taken to the Kitay-gorod police department.

After the rally, the wives of mobilized soldiers proceeded to Putin's election headquarters. There, they wrote "instructions" for this “presidential candidate,” demanding the return of mobilized men. During their visit to the headquarters, one of the women discovered that candidate Putin lacked an election program.

The detention of journalists continued at Putin's election headquarters. According to the OVD-Info independent human rights project, seven journalists were detained there, including Andrey Zaykov of Japanese television company Fuji. They were taken to the Basmanny police department. Eventually, all journalists were released. However, one participant in the rally was left in the Kitay-gorod police department, awaiting a court hearing for charges related to participating in the rally and disobeying the police.

Protests in Bashkortostan

According to monitoring group OVD-Info, 34 individuals were sent to Bashkir pre-trial detention centers after attending protests on Jan. 17 and 19. All detainees were charged with participation in public disturbances; four of them were singled out as organizers. Moreover, 13 individuals are being accused of using violence against government officials. Two of the arrested protesters are women. Most charges involve snowballs thrown at police officers. Other than that, 163 administrative cases were opened in the courts of Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic], of which 123 for failure to comply with a lawful order of a police officer. 158 cases have already been reviewed, with the penalty announced for 67 of them and mostly limited to administrative arrests.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

A wave of police raids targeting migrant workers has swept across hostels, markets and cafes in the cities of the greater Moscow area. On Jan. 30, in the city of Balashikha, law enforcement rounded up 11 men who had received Russian citizenship but failed to complete their compulsory military registration. All men were brought to the draft office and reports were drawn up for four of them for failure to comply with their military registration duties. A similar raid was staged in the city of Shchyolkovo. According to the Baza Telegram channel, since Oct. 1, 2023, more than 400 men have been enrolled for military service as a result of raids against migrant laborers.

Governor of the Krasnodar region Veniamin Kondratyev increased the sign-up bonus for the local residents recruited to fight in Ukraine to 300,000 rubles [$3,300]. According to Kondratyev, over the past two years, more than 5 billion rubles [$54.93 million] have been allocated from the regional budget to support military personnel and their families.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Ilya Kokalov from the Leningrad region, Sergey Zabaluev from the Samara region, Ildus Magadiev from Bashkortostan, Artyom Parfyonov from the Novosibirsk region, and Roman Kolesnik from the Krasnodar region.

A Russian soldier was held in an illegal prison in the village of Zaitseve for over a month. The man enlisted in August 2023 and was serving in the 13th Tank Regiment. On the night of Dec. 25, he called his wife Olga to say that he and two other soldiers were being transported to an illegal basement jail for refuseniks in the village of Rozsypne. On Jan. 25, his fellow soldiers informed Olga that her husband had died. However, later, the unit commander claimed that he was still with the regiment for "temporarily incapacitated"—a term used for the prison for refuseniks. Later, the husband contacted Olga to say that he had been transferred to the 25th Brigade. The woman suspects he was coerced during this communication. Two days later, she found out that her husband's fellow soldier, who had been held with him in Zaitseve, had died and his body was transferred to a morgue in Rostov (as reported by ASTRA on Jan. 31). Olga's deceased husband's body was supposedly also brought in but subsequently "vanished from the morgue's records." The woman suspects that her husband was killed in Zaitseve.

Soldiers from the 1st Motorized Rifle Brigade complained about being beaten by their commanding officers, following which they were held handcuffed for several days. A video shared with Ostorozhno, Novosti, filmed on the night of January 13, depicts the soldiers handcuffed and immobilized for extended periods. During this time, they were deprived of food and restroom access. Later, one of them was sent to the forward positions, while the other managed to escape.

A military wife has been trying to find her missing husband for over three months. Viktor Zherditsky signed a contract in the spring of 2023 and served at the 87th Regiment. In November, he was dispatched to the Avdiivka direction as part of an attack unit and did not return. The commanders admitted that the man was missing in action. The woman described the situation in the unit as “completely outrageous”: soldiers were deployed to assault enemy positions without adequate training or medical assessments. The wounded and dead are not being evacuated. The woman’s inquiries for information on her husband’s fate filed with several government departments remain unanswered. According to the Ministry of Defense, the man is still on active military duty.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The municipal court in the town of Vyazniki in the Vladimir region sentenced Aleksandr Sladkov to one year of forced labor for illegal hunting and negligent homicide. During an unlawful moose hunt, Sladkov accidentally shot and killed a man. In sentencing, the court considered a “voluntary donation to a special military operation support fund” as an alleviating circumstance.

In the Lipetsk region, Mikhail L., a contract soldier on leave, assaulted his live-in girlfriend and a policeman responding to the emergency call. The man hit the policeman on the head. In response, the policeman fired his weapon at the soldier. Mikhail L., previously convicted of theft and verbal assault against a government official, is now hospitalized with gunshot wounds. An inquiry is ongoing to determine if the policeman's use of his service weapon constituted an abuse of authority.

In Krasnokamensk, the Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject], on Jan. 29, a local resident had a dispute with his acquaintance, a former Wagner Group mercenary, and assaulted him. The victim, who has a criminal record, suffered arm and leg fractures, internal injuries, and a closed head trauma. The assailant who also has a criminal record has been detained, and a case of intentional harm has been filed.

According to the SHOT Telegram channel, an employee of the Russian Railways [Russian fully state-owned railway company] was arrested for setting fire to a relay cabinet in the Moscow region. The arson occurred on the night of Feb. 3 near the Podolsk station, causing a delay of several trains for 20 minutes due to the burned relay cabinet. Roman B., an employee of a subsidiary of Russian Railways, has been arrested on suspicion of arson. According to Law enforcement officers, he agreed to an offer from "Ukrainian handlers" for a reward of 3,000 rubles [$33]. A criminal case has been initiated under the article on act of terror, and the man faces up to 20 years of imprisonment.

Assistance

According to Ostorozhno, Novosti, the management of the Electroagregat enterprise from Kursk has requested that workers from several workshops submit an application to withhold the amount of their average daily wage from their January 2024 salary, “for the needs of the special military operation.” This amounts to approximately 1,500 rubles [$16] for an average worker.

Children and Educational System

Eleventh-graders at a school in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region [Russia's federal subject] have been visited by employees of a military school. The guests initially intended to discuss their educational institution, but instead started talking about Ukraine. The Sirena Telegram channel quoted some of the statements made during the lecture. Meanwhile, in the city of Nefteyugansk, Khanty-Mansi autonomous region-Yugra [Russia's federal subject], marines have held a “lesson of courage” for elementary school students, teaching them survival skills in combat. Additionally, a school in Perm has installed mailboxes at each entrance to the school grounds for letters to be sent to the frontline. Also in Perm, a military training center will be established to train sergeants and reserve soldiers for the Russian Aerospace Forces, as has been ordered by Prime Minister Mishustin.

To address the shortage of employees in defense industry enterprises, Dmitry Fadeyev, head of the League of Defense Enterprises of the Defense Industry of the Vladimir Region and director of the Murom Instrument-Making Plant, proposed hiring schoolchildren.

Miscellaneous

A construction company from the Belgorod region posted a job vacancy for a security guard in the town of Novaya Tavolzhanka. The applicant is required to have skills in using an anti-drone rifle to patrol the company's construction site.

Longreads

A Tomsk resident, who signed a contract with the Russian Armed Forces, has filed a lawsuit against the command of his unit with the Tomsk Garrison Military Court. He is not being discharged from service, citing the mobilization decree currently in effect. Journalists from TV2 have prepared a report on the conflict between the soldier and the command.

The Activatica project, an independent media outlet, documented 3,658 protest actions in Russia in 2023. The most common reasons for citizens to participate in protests were against repression and in support of political prisoners, with at least 1,022 actions throughout the year. Anti-war protests ranked second, with 664 actions. Environmental protests were the third most popular, with 509 actions.