mobilization briefs
February 24

Mobilization in Russia for Feb. 22-23, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Alexei Navalny’s Death

The authorities have given Alexei Navalny's mother an ultimatum. According to Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, a representative of the Investigative Committee offered Lyudmila Navalnaya to agree to a secret funeral without a public farewell. If she didn't agree within three hours Alexei will be buried on the territory of the penal colony where he died. The politician's mother rejected the ultimatum, emphasizing that the Investigative Committee does not have the authority to decide how and where she should bury her son. She demands compliance with the law, which requires investigators to release the body within two days of determining the cause of death. This deadline is set to expire tomorrow, Feb. 24. Yarmysh called the investigators' new demand regarding the conditions for releasing Navalny's body "a complete disgrace" and noted that it is currently unknown how the authorities will react to Lyudmila Navalnaya's refusal.

Lyudmila Navalnaya's lawyers have filed a complaint with the Investigative Committee requesting to initiate a criminal case under the article on abuse of a corpse, as well as to open a criminal probe into the actions of investigators, in particular, Aleksandr Varapayev, who are obstructing the timely funeral and threatening Alexei's mother.

Alexei Navalny's team has announced a reward for information about the circumstances of his death. Director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation Ivan Zhdanov asked service members and law enforcement officers in Russia to send any information related to the murder of Alexei Navalny. In exchange for valuable information, the team offered a cash reward of €20,000 and assistance in leaving Russia. It was announced later by Zhdanov that the reward had been raised to €100,000.

Since the beginning of the campaign by the OVD-Info independent human rights project, over 93,000 requests had been submitted urging the Investigative Committee to release Alexei Navalny's body to his relatives.

President Joe Biden met with Yulia Navalnaya and her daughter Daria. He expressed condolences to the family of the politician. Additionally, Biden expressed his "admiration for the extraordinary courage of Alexei Navalny and his legacy in the fight against corruption and for a free and democratic Russia." On Friday, Washington announced new major sanctions against Russia in response to Navalny's death and aggression in Ukraine.

Propagandists are spreading a fake appeal allegedly from Alexei Navalny's mother. The recording first appeared on the Signal Telegram channel affiliated with Kristina Potupchik, a pro-Kremlin influencer who works for the presidential administration. The audio recording, created using neural network technology, caught the attention of Ilya Ber, the chief editor of the Verified Media outlet. He believes that the propagandists failed to generate a convincing voice due to the lack of materials to train the neural network.

The independent media outlets Vyorstka, Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories], Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] and the law enforcement-associated VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, have published details of the biography and career of Aleksandr Varapaev, the investigator who delivered the ultimatum to Alexei Navalny’s mother. Varapaev, 36, is a senior investigator specialized in important cases at the Investigative Committee for the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region [Russia's federal subject]. He started working for the Investigative Committee in Surgut in 2012, when he told local media that he had "joined the service in search of justice." Prior to that, in 2006, 18-year-old Varapaev was convicted of using violence against a government representative. The future investigator also had his driving license revoked for repeatedly breaking traffic rules. Moreover, banks had blacklisted Varapaev and denied his loan applications on several occasions. According to leaked information, his income rose sharply in 2022, reaching 2.7 million rubles [$29,000 or $1,160 per month], compared to 1.3 million rubles [$14,000 or $2,420 per month] in 2021.

The Holod independent Russian media outlet, citing sources, reported that staff of the penal colony, where Alexei Navalny died, repeatedly attempted to cover up the deaths of inmates. In one case, they tortured a man to death and then claimed it was a suicide. Many convicts also died in the colony due to the absence of any medical personnel.

Authorities and Legislation

The federal government has introduced a bill into the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] which would exempt Investigative Committee and prosecutor’s offices employees from regular conscription. If passed, they would become entitled to a draft exemption immediately after completing the relevant higher education. At present, such exemptions are granted to employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Fire Service, Federal Penitentiary Service and customs.

Also, the government approved a resolution allowing employees of the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor's Office to use Kalashnikov assault rifles for personal protection.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

According to the Baza Telegram channel, Yury Yevseyev, conscripted into the army despite having epilepsy, was discharged to the reserve after spending three months in the hospital.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Chingiz Tyurbeev from Kalmykia [Russia’s constituent republic], Denis Chernov from the Stavropol region, Stanislav Dedov from the Krasnodar region, Aleksandr Leukhin from the Kirov region, Ilya Dikov from the Ivanovo region, Ivan Nemykin, Oleg Altunin, and Dmitry Sitnichenko from the Belgorod region, as well as Andrey Zhukov from the Vladimir region.

The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet has published an infographic on the residents of Russia's constituent Republic of Buryatia and the Irkutsk region killed in the war with Ukraine, based on the analysis of data on casualties. At least 2,261 residents of the two aforementioned regions have been killed in two years of the war. Of those killed, 43.4 percent were volunteer fighters, 37.5 percent were contract soldiers, and 19.1 percent were mobilized soldiers. The average age of the deceased was 34 years. At least 1,600 children in the two regions lost their fathers.

The Vyorstka media outlet has published a longread by Olesya Gerasimenko about the surge of violence among Russian soldiers and officers involved in the invasion of Ukraine. Gerasimenko has interviewed frontline servicemen who reported their fellow soldiers being humiliated and beaten, tied to trees and put in pits, shot at and threatened with rape. The feeling of hopelessness impacts the mental health of frontline soldiers, especially ex-convicts who tend to direct their anger at fellow soldiers. Mobilized soldiers are also experiencing anger, primarily due to the lack of rotation at the front. No criminal cases have been initiated in relation to the incidents of violence mentioned by the interviewed soldiers, as the command prefers to avoid publicity.

The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel analyzed 427 verdicts of garrison military courts regarding cases of violence in the army and identified key similarities across all cases. Verdicts against commanders are fewer than those against subordinates. Triggers for aggression include unmade beds, dirty footwear, inadequate cleaning of premises, dissatisfaction with responses, delays in carrying out orders, and even the absence of regulation underwear. However, fines are the most commonly imposed punishment for assault, although they are not legally stipulated for commanders.

On Feb. 23, Aleksandr Osipov, Governor of the Zabaykalsky region, announced a minute of silence in memory of the soldiers killed in the war from the region; additionally, the authorities of the Zabaykalsky region confirmed the deaths of 16 soldiers as a result of an attack on the training ground in the village of Trudovske. Earlier, Vazhnyye Istorii confirmed the authenticity of a list containing 65 names of the killed soldiers and three unidentified individuals.

An illegally mobilized soldier with a third-degree disability, Vladimir Frolov, is being held in a military unit in the "DPR" and is being threatened with being sent back to the frontline. Despite having a valid draft deferral for health reasons, he was denied a medical evaluation board in February 2022 and was taken to the frontline. According to Frolov's wife, his health has deteriorated during his service, and a tumor has developed in his kidneys. Additionally, he sustained injuries in October 2022. Following his injury, he went AWOL, but the military police returned him, despite his reliance on crutches for mobility. Currently, Frolov's wife states, "He is being harassed, forced to sign a contract, and threatened with being sent to the assault." She filed complaints with the Military Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Defense, but to no avail.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In the Arkhangelsk region, Oleg Milkov, an informant and former Wagner Group recruiter, is threatening to kill activist Vladimir Kotov, who was convicted for "defamation of the Russian Army."

According to the Astra Telegram channel, on Feb. 17 in Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic], an intoxicated war participant, Ildar Migranov, attempted to strangle a traffic police inspector. As of now, no case has been filed.


In the Krasnodar region, volunteers are creating winter camouflage nets from wedding dresses. Meanwhile, in Obninsk, Kaluga region, it is proposed to pay 4,000 rubles [$43] to mothers and wives of war participants by March 8. There are a total of 368 families of war participants in the city.

Children and Educational System

In the Ulyanovsk region, "educational guidelines" on the interview of Putin with American journalist Tucker Carlson have been distributed to schools. Teachers are encouraged to organize class debates and engage students in research projects related to the interview's themes. The suggestion is to incorporate the interview into lessons on social studies, history, literature, geography, and other school subjects.

A military training center has been opened at Tyumen State University, where sappers will be trained from among the students under the guidance of former war participants. The center has been established on the premises of the Biology Department.

In one of the cultural centers in the Sakhalin region, children are learning war songs to perform at a concert in a military hospital in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Meanwhile, in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region [Russia's federal subject], a schoolgirl has cut her hair and donated the proceeds from its sale—10,000 rubles [$110]—to Russian war participants.

Various "holiday" events were also held in educational institutions across the country in observance of Feb. 23. For instance, kindergarten children played the Zarnichka military sports game and drew pictures for the soldiers on the frontline. Schools held meetings with participants of the invasion of Ukraine and conducted military marching training. Students wrote letters to soldiers and packed parcels with socks and cigarettes. In the Zabaykalsky region, the state puppet theater Tridevyatoye Tsarstvo [Faraway Kingdom] prepared a "patriotic" performance titled "Semeynyi NeboSVOd" [Family Sky Arch, the capitalized letters referencing the abbreviation for the "special military operation"] for children aged six and older.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for an end to the politicization and militarization of Russian schools, according to a report by the committee summarizing meetings held in 2024.


Oleg Kozhemyako, Governor of the Primorsky region [Russia’s federal subject] has announced the introduction of a supplement of 30,000 rubles [$320] to the base salary for a year for "veterans of special military operation" when employed at a number of companies in the region. The governor also revealed the establishment of the Tigr – pravoporiadok [Tiger – Law and Order] company, where war veterans can find employment to "assist the police and Rosgvardia [the Russian National Guard] in maintaining order on the streets of the region."

Russian border guards on the border with Estonia are requiring individuals to fill out forms with personal data, including their phone's IMEI number, and questions about their attitude toward the war with Ukraine. A source from Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] stated that such questionnaires are issued selectively and linked it to holding dual citizenships: Russian and European.