mobilization briefs
February 23

Mobilization in Russia for Feb. 20-22, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Alexei Navalny’s Death

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said she had been secretly driven to a morgue on the night of Feb. 21 and finally shown the body of her son. Law enforcement declared that they had established the cause of death and presented respective medical and legal reports. Lyudmila Navalnaya confirmed having signed the medical certificate of death. Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh told the Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] Telegram channel that a post-mortem had been performed on the late politician's body. According to Yarmysh, the medical report shown to Navalny’s mother stated his cause of death as being natural. As Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] points out, once the cause of Navalny’s death has been identified, his body is to be released within two days, pursuant to Art. 8 of the Russian Federal Law "On Burials and Funeral Services." Instead, the authorities are pressuring Navalny’s mother and dictating conditions for where, when and how Alexei should be buried. Navalnaya revealed she had been threatened into burying her son in a secret ceremony without mourners. "They want to bring me to the edge of the cemetery, to a fresh grave, and say: here lies your son," she said. An investigator by the last name of Voropayev warned her that if she did not agree, something would be done with the politician’s body, "Time is not on your side, corpses decompose." Navalnaya refused to accept these conditions, stating that she wanted everyone to have an opportunity to pay last respects to Alexei. Lawyers interviewed by Agentstvo.Novosti said that by withholding the body from the family, the investigator violated several provisions of the Russian Criminal Code. These violations may entail a prison sentence of up to 12 years.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, reported about the events of the past two days. According to him, Navalny's mother spent nearly a day alone with investigators and forensic experts. Her lawyer was not allowed to assist her. "They openly threatened to use their media resources against her," Zhdanov stated. Zhdanov also named the conditions set by the authorities for the release of the body:

  • The body will be transported to Moscow by charter flight, and Navalny's mother does not mention the funeral before arriving in the city, "so that the body is not met at the airport;"
  • A member of the Investigative Committee must accompany the family until the funeral;
  • The mother determines when the funeral will be held after arriving in Moscow. Before the funeral, the body must be kept in a morgue in the Moscow or Vladimir regions. The last point was justified by the "fear that the morgue would be stormed."

In addition, the authorities did not approve both the cemetery and the mourning hall Navalny's mother selected for the funeral service. According to Zhdanov, the politician's family does not demand an independent post-mortem examination. The relatives want the body released so it can be buried properly.

The suit alleging inaction by the Investigative Committee in regards to releasing Alexei Navalny’s body filed by the late politician’s mother at the court in the town of Salekhard will be considered behind closed doors. The hearing is scheduled for March 4, meaning another potential two-week delay.

Great Britain instituted sanctions against the management of the Correctional Colony No. 3 where Navalny died. A total of six people fell under the sanctions including Vadim Kalinin, the colony director, and five of his deputies. The sanctions imply freezing of any of the men’s British assets and forbidding them from entering the country. Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] points out, however, that the six are already banned from visiting Europe and opening accounts there because of the security clearances they possess.

The Saint Petersburg Municipal Court considered the first batch of appeals against district courts’ orders to arrest participants of actions in memory of Alexei Navalny. In at least the first ten cases, the court denied the appeals, upholding the lower courts’ sentences. At least six Saint Petersburg residents, who were put under administrative arrests for bringing flowers, have been issued summonses. According to the Rotonda media outlet, the summonses were served as the men were undergoing interrogations by policemen sent to the pre-trial detention facility specifically for this purpose. The detainees were instructed to report to a draft office for a data check up or to establish a military record.

One of the detainees told RusNews that officials threatened to "break his fingers" if he failed to sign a summons. In another case, officials delivered a summons to the home of an individual, while he was still in a temporary detention facility. Human rights defender Dinar Idrisov and the Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel have also reported that authorities had served several summonses. According to them, authorities attempted to serve a summons to another man at his registered residence, after detaining him for laying flowers and later releasing him from police custody. A legal expert from the Prizyv k Sovesti [Call to Conscience] coalition spoke with Vazhnyye Istorii on conditions of anonymity and indicated that recipients of such summonses may be fined up to 30,000 rubles [$330] if they do not report to a draft office. However, when one man, who had also been detained and served a summons, reported to a draft office, however, an employee informed him that it was just a "scare tactic," adding that summonses that do not specify an office number can be considered invalid.

A Saint Petersburg resident, who also laid flowers in memory of Navalny, described his experience at a police station, where he spent 3 days under arrest for participating in a "mass simultaneous gathering of citizens." According to him, the police officers were polite and accommodating. Some of them were "very unhappy" and "frankly frustrated" with being ordered to "chase people with flowers." In his opinion, "at least half of the employees were sane," although some were not so obliging. One officer, for example, inquired, "How much were you paid?" Another put pressure by declaring that summonses had been served to several of the detainees. Meanwhile, the Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet spoke with city residents who began creating memorials in honor of the late opposition politician in the entrances and courtyards of residential buildings after authorities had cleared the memorials around city monuments.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that there is no order to identify all individuals bringing flowers to memorials for Navalny. The photograph of the document was previously published by Grigory Sverdlin, the head of the Idite Lesom! project. Sverdlin, when contacted by Agentstvo.Novosti, mentioned that the project verified the authenticity of the document with current government officials and concluded that the order form corresponds to a real one. However, he acknowledged that the project cannot fully guarantee the document's authenticity. In contrast, advocates from the Pervy Otdel [First Department] human rights project expressed doubts about the document's authenticity, as the electronic signature's expiration date had passed. Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, also raised concerns, noting that electronic signatures for officials typically have a validity period of one year or until the end of their term, whereas this document had a one-month validity. Agentstvo.Novosti observed that recent events confirm the ongoing close monitoring of opposition activists by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In Kurgan, police issue "warnings" to individuals laying flowers in memory of Navalny. In Arkhangelsk, at least three people received "warnings" about the inadmissibility of holding rallies due to Alexei Navalny's death. In Novosibirsk, police visit and call everyone observed in Navalny memorial activities, issuing warnings—several sources in the city told the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet about this. According to them, one police officer mentioned that the police were instructed to approach about "three hundred people." They also targeted those who did not lay flowers. In addition, the municipal authorities in Novosibirsk denied the request of local independent deputy Svetlana Kaverzina to hold a rally in memory of victims of political repression. The city administration believes that Kaverzina is associated with Alexei Navalny's structures, and as a result, her activities have extremist tendencies. The deputy confirmed that the police have a "plan" to issue "warnings" about "public events" to 300 individuals.

Orthodox Christians and priests have appealed to the Russian authorities, requesting the release of Alexei Navalny's body to his family "so his mother, other family members, and supporters could bid farewell and commit him to a Christian burial." Meanwhile, a parishioner from a church in Udmurtia [Russia's constituent republic] said that she was reported to the police for requesting a prayer for the repose of Alexei Navalny. The woman was summoned to the police station "to provide an explanation."

Following the death of Alexei Navalny, statistics from clinical psychologists and search queries have documented a rise in suicidal thoughts among Russians, as reported by the psychological support project Without Prejudice. Google search data reveals that interest in the topic of suicide has reached a monthly peak. The Meduza media outlet has prepared a guide to help individuals navigate these challenging times. In emergencies, people are advised to seek professional assistance, for example, through the free chatbot offered by Without Prejudice.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

The Mobilizatsiya [Mobilization] Telegram channel reports on roundups in the Moscow region—in Serpukhov, representatives from the military commissariat [enlistment office], the Investigative Committee, and the State Inspectorate for Road Traffic Safety are handing out summonses to drivers for military registration.

In Novosibirsk, leaflets distributed on behalf of the draft office carry the message: "If your neighbor is a migrant, call the military commissariat!" Similar images have been noticed in Telegram chats in one of the city's districts.

The government of the Saratov region printed 1.2 million copies of a newspaper, with all four pages dedicated to military service advertising.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

Former participant of the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement, Paulina Safronova, has announced the formation of her own movement, which will support the war but advocate for limiting the duration of conscription. Safronova revealed a conflict with another representative of Put Domoy, Maria Andreeva, attributing the rift to Andreeva's opposition to the war, while Safronova and her husband, currently serving in an assault brigade, believe in the necessity of fighting until victory. However, Safronova insists that rotation of frontline personnel is necessary for this. In response, Andreeva explained Safronova's departure as stemming from internal conflicts and clarified that she was not one of the founders of the movement and "appeared in Put Domoy around the sixth action." Andreeva also suspects Safronova's ties to law enforcement, particularly with "Center E" [the General Directorate for countering extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation].

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Aleksey Vlasov from the Sverdlovsk region, Vladislav Vybornov from the Ivanovo region, Yevgeny Poroshin from the Kirov region, Vyacheslav Kuzmin from the Volgograd region, Yaroslav Volchkov and Eduard Nechay from the Krasnodar region, Aydemir Magomedov from Russia’s constituent Republic of Dagestan, Sergey Khurumov from Russia’s constituent Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, and Andrey Zavgorodniy from the Rostov region.

Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 45,123 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine, including 5,408 mobilized soldiers. Since the last update on Feb. 19, the list has been supplemented with 469 soldiers, 54 of whom were mobilized. According to the journalists, at least 6,614 people from the list were killed in the period between October 2023 and February 2024, when Russian forces were advancing near Avdiivka and neighboring areas of the Donetsk region.

Dovod [independent Russian media outlet] counted at least 436 residents of the Vladimir region who died during the two years of the full-scale invasion. Dovod notes that the peaks in mortality occurred in October–November 2022, when immediately after the start of mobilization, newly conscripted soldiers were sent to hold the frontline in the Svatove direction, and in February 2023, when assault troops formed by ex-convicts from the Wagner Group stormed the town of Bakhmut. Additionally, significant losses were recorded in May 2023, when the Murom Engineer-Sapper Brigade came under artillery fire from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and in October 2023, coinciding with the start of the Russian offensive on Avdiivka.

Public celebratory events were canceled in the Zabaykalsky region after the news of heavy losses among the mobilized soldiers from this region as the result of an attack on the training ground in the village of Trudovske in the occupied parts of the Donetsk region. At least 65 soldiers from Russia's 36th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade headquartered in Borzya were killed there, with three soldiers still missing. Vazhnyye Istorii confirmed the authenticity of the victims list. A large number of wounded soldiers is also being reported. Governor of the Zabaykalsky region Aleksandr Osipov stated that "the information that is being shared is unreliable and greatly exaggerated." However, he promised to "provide any assistance" to the families of the mobilized soldiers and to make sure their relatives get "reliable information." The deputy governor of the region, Ayagma Vanchikova, announced a day of mourning via her Telegram channel, but that post was later deleted.

In addition, a grassroots memorial dedicated to the fallen mobilized soldiers has been set up in Chita, the capital of the Zabaykalsky region. A compilation by Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] includes coverage from the authorities and state media in the Zabaykalsky region on the death of military personnel from Borzya.

Andrey Karazinov, a 21-year-old orphan from the Oryol region, went to war as a volunteer fighter. He sustained several injuries, underwent major surgery, and completed rehabilitation. Upon his return home, Karazinov attempted to claim his due privileges and a "governor’s" payout of 500,000 rubles ($5,420), but was unable to secure them. He was supposed to submit his request within 12 months of his injury, but during this time, he was in a coma and undergoing treatment. Despite having a metal plate in his skull, Karazinov was also denied disability status. Furthermore, officials refused him the allocation of an apartment, referring to his "existing housing"—the scorched remains of his late mother’s apartment.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Southern District Military Court reduced the sentence for Nikolay Vinnik, a soldier previously found guilty of murdering a fellow serviceman, by three months. The court of first instance sentenced Vinnik to 11 years and 11 months in a penal colony. On March 8, 2023, the soldier had an argument with a fellow serviceman and shot him with an assault rifle. The victim died from the wounds received.

The Southern District Military Court has increased the fine for mobilized soldier Ivan Shvechikov to 750,000 rubles [$8,130] for bribing his commander. Shvechikov participated in the war with Ukraine and was injured. After receiving treatment in the hospital, he was supposed to return to the war. However, the soldier reached an agreement with the deputy platoon commander that, in exchange for money, the commander would alter his health category to avoid sending him to the frontline. Concurrently, a criminal case was initiated against the deputy platoon commander.

In the Zabaykalsky region, soldier Sergey Gubarev was sentenced to six and a half years in a penal colony for going AWOL for a year.

In Krasnoyarsk, a court has sentenced Ukrainian native Dmitry Kiselyov to 13 years of imprisonment for treason and preparing for sabotage. According to investigators, Kiselyov photographed infrastructure in the Krasnoyarsk region and plotted an explosion on the railway on the instructions of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

A resident of the Stavropol region, Vladimir Isupov, has been sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in the activities of an extremist organization and preparing an act of terror. According to investigators, Isupov recorded an audio message in which he recited the oath of allegiance to the Right Sector [a loosely defined coalition of right-wing to far-right Ukrainian nationalist organizations].

A case of treason was initiated in the Zabaykalsky region. The Federal Security Service [FSB] stated that a resident of Chita was an administrator of a channel controlled by the SBU and was "conducting anti-Russian propaganda" in the interests of Ukraine. He was also accused of collecting data on soldiers and their relatives, which he allegedly passed on to foreigners. The man was detained while attempting to leave the country.

Another case of treason was initiated in the Moscow region against a native of Yaroslavl. Allegedly, at the request of Ukrainian intelligence services, he was to carry out a car explosion in Lobnya. Additionally, a treason case in Moscow has come to light: according to the case file on the Moscow City Court's website, discovered by Mediazona, the investigation is requesting the arrest of Martynov N.

An unnamed student from a local university in the Omsk region was detained by FSB agents. According to law enforcement officials, the young man is purportedly a supporter of the Russian Volunteer Corps and the "Freedom of Russia Legion." Allegedly, he planned to travel to Ukraine to take part in the war, and during a search of his apartment, flags and other paraphernalia of these organizations were found. The detainee was sent to a pre-trial detention center.

Ivan Ignatov, arrested on suspicion of treason in the Voronezh region, revealed details of torture and threats by law enforcement officers: he was suffocated with a plastic bag, subjected to electric shock, and endured sexual violence. Ignatov was apprehended by the FSB along with two other men in June 2023. They were accused of providing Ukraine with information about Russian military facilities and transportation infrastructure, as well as collaborating with the Right Sector.


As the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion approaches, the OVD-Info independent human rights project has compiled a summary of the persecution of the anti-war movement in Russia. Since Feb. 24, 2022, 19,855 people have been detained for their anti-war stance, with 267 individuals ending up behind bars. The average sentence term has increased from 36 months in 2022 to 70 months in 2023.

The Proekt [Project] independent media outlet has released a study analyzing criminal and administrative cases brought to courts in Russia from 2018 to 2023. According to their calculations, over 116,000 individuals faced direct repression in Russia over the last six years, with 11,442 people prosecuted under criminal charges (5,613 accused under repressive articles, and another 5,829 under articles related to crimes against the state). About 105,000 individuals were brought to administrative responsibility for expressing their views and participating in rallies. Additionally, courts received cases against 4,642 individuals who refused to fight. The authors concluded that the scale of Putin’s repression has long exceeded the scale of all Soviet general secretaries except Stalin.