mobilization briefs
February 26

Mobilization in Russia for Feb. 23-25, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Alexei Navalny’s Death

On Feb. 24, Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, posted a video demanding that the authorities release her husband’s body for burial. In her emotionally charged statement, she pointed out that on the 9th day since Navalny’s death the Russian authorities still refused to hand over his body to the family. Yulia Navalnaya openly criticized Putin, saying he was behind it all. Navalnaya argued that despite Putin's long-standing portrayal of himself as a devout Orthodox Christian, his actions are a betrayal of the Christian faith and ethics. Putin will also have to answer for the war he unleashed against Ukraine and "not only to people," Navalnaya added.

Later that day, Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote that the politician's body had been handed over to his mother. "The funeral is yet to come. We don’t know whether the authorities will interfere with carrying it out in the way the family wants and as Alexei deserves," Yarmysh said. Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, confirmed this announcement and thanked everyone who had sent appeals to Russian authorities. According to the independent human rights project OVD-info, as many as 98,300 appeals had been sent demanding the release of Navalny’s body to his relatives. The date of the funeral is yet to be announced.

Yekaterina Duntsova, Russian anti-war politician barred from running in the upcoming presidential election, called on members of the public to congregate in the largest churches on Feb. 24 at 03:00 p.m. to mark the 9th day of Alexei Navalny's death according to the Orthodox tradition. In Moscow, dozens of people queued up outside the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer to pay their respects to the late politician. According to the SotaVision Telegram channel, several people were stopped by police for random ID checks while exiting from the cathedral. Police efforts were coordinated by the General Directorate for Countering Extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, known as "Center E." In Saint Petersburg, mourners gathered in the Smolny Cathedral. Police and Center E officers patrolled at the entrance, conducting ID checks and filming the visitors with mobile phones, as reported by the Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet.

People continued to protest and lay flowers in memory of Alexei Navalny across the country, including in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Ufa, Kazan, Vladimir, Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Makhachkala and Sochi. Law enforcement officers detained participants in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Kazan, Saint Petersburg, Ulyanovsk and Vladimir.

Anti-War Protests

Moreover, people in Russia held anti-war protests on the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion. Peace signs, colored like the flag of Ukraine, were suspended on statues in Petrozavodsk. Moscow residents laid flowers at the foot of the monument to Lesya Ukrainka, although municipal workers later took the flowers away. In Saint Petersburg, residents laid flowers at the monument to Taras Shevchenko. Police officers detained a woman after she affixed a note to the monument with a verse from the poem "Legacy" by Shevchenko. They took down the note and threw the flowers into the nearest bin. Meanwhile, green ribbons against the war started to appear in Kirov. Omsk residents also expressed their opposition to the war, while in Novosibirsk police officers detained three people on Lenin Square.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

The Put Domoy [Way Home] movement organized an event to mark the 2-year anniversary of the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Participants gathered at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow to lay flowers. They formed a queue when law enforcement officers restricted access to the monument to two people at a time.

Before the start of the event, police attempted to prevent the wives of mobilized soldiers from laying flowers. Although this time the Moscow prosecutor's office did not issue warnings about the "planned unauthorized event," an unknown young man and correspondents from SotaVision, Mikhail Lebedev and Anna Sliva, were detained at the event, despite having press cards and vests. Lebedev was released from police custody, while Sliva was accused of "unlawful use of journalist identification" and held until the morning. Journalist Yulia Petrova from RusNews was also detained but was later released. In total, four individuals were detained.

In the city of Yekaterinburg, police detained local residents during the events on Feb. 24 due to a post in the Put Domoy movement channel. The authors called on people to lay flowers on the occasion of the second anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine. In particular, activist Anna Sayfutdinova was detained for laying flowers at the Eternal Flame.

Detentions at Various Events

On Feb. 24, arrests occurred in nine cities: Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Kursk, Moscow, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Saint Petersburg Stary Oskol and Ufa. According to OVD-Info, in at least three police departments, the detainees had their phones confiscated.

OVD-Info is aware of 49 individuals detained during the protests on Feb. 24. Thirty-eight people were detained during the protests in memory of Alexei Navalny, six at the anti-war protests, four at the protests by military spouses, and one person during a solitary protest against torture in prisons.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

The Hindu newspaper, citing spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal from India's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reports that India has requested Russia to allow its citizens who have signed contracts with the Russian Army to be discharged early. According to The Hindu, approximately 100 Indian citizens may have signed contracts with the Russian Army in the past year.

Governor of the Tomsk region Vladimir Mazur has announced the creation of a special unit named "Vasyugan," which will be composed of local residents. During a live call-in show in late 2022, volunteer fighters voiced their complaints to the governor about the inability to terminate their contracts.

It has been revealed that Oleg Kinev, a former member of the Yekaterinburg regional assembly, who was sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony for the murder of an elderly woman, has gone to war in Ukraine. He has been serving in the Storm-Z unit since the end of last year. Kinev was not scheduled for release until 2032.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Andrey Baistryuchenko, Sergey Bykov and Sergey Androsov from the Belgorod region, Artyom Zhukov from the Krasnoyarsk region and Anatoliy Baidin from the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject].

Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] and Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] released an investigation into Russian casualties to mark the second anniversary of the start of the war. According to the findings, an estimated 75,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the war, with the number potentially ranging between 66,000 and 88,000. In 2022, Russian losses were approximated at 24,000, but this number surged to 50,000 in 2023. At least 20,000 of the deceased servicemen were convicts who signed contracts with either the Ministry of Defense or "private military companies." Over the past six months, the average daily rate of losses for the Russian Armed Forces has stood at 120 soldiers.

The Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has compiled a list of 10,974 people who were killed in the war against Ukraine. These people were residents of the Volga region, which comprises 15 federal subjects and republics of Russia. Among these, the constituent republic of Bashkortostan experienced the highest toll, with 1,540 men killed. Following closely are the Samara region with 1,164 casualties, Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan with 1,116, and the Perm region with 1,105 fatalities. Additionally, the It's My City media outlet verified the deaths of at least 236 mobilized soldiers from the Sverdlovsk region, which is not part of the Volga region.

A resident of Chelyabinsk, who signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense in the spring of 2023 while in prison, complained that he did not receive his salary nor the "governor’s’’ 225,000 rubles [$2,400], and his payroll cards were inactive. The soldier explained that the contract he signed was taken from him while he was in prison, leaving him without even a copy. The Ministry of Social Relations of the Chelyabinsk region responded that the decision to provide a sign-up bonus is based on documents confirming the conclusion of the contract. The contract military service recruitment facility in Chelyabinsk issues these documents.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In annexed Crimea, Russian soldiers of the so-called Medvedi [Bears] 81st Volunteer Brigade stormed into a café in the village of Chornomorske, firing shots into the air and brutally assaulting the guests. A total of 12 people were injured, including one woman. Despite the fact that a large group of soldiers was involved in the attack, only two have been detained.

Dmitry, a resident of the Krasnodar region, had his request to be transferred to alternative civilian service denied by the draft board. This case arose from his assertion that military service conflicts with his religious beliefs. It is reported that the refusal was based on his inability to answer questions about Orthodox holidays.


Karl Pomishin, a shaman from the village of Ranzhurovo in the Kabansky district of Buryatia, a constituent republic of Russia, dispatched 50 amulets made of fir bark to the frontline "to ward off evil forces."


The Chronicles research project concluded that, after two years of the war, the number of war supporters has decreased by nearly a quarter. This finding emerged from a survey conducted from Jan. 23 to Jan. 29, involving 1,602 respondents. In February 2023, consistent war supporters accounted for 22% of respondents; by October 2023, this figure had declined to 12%; and in January 2024, it slightly increased to 17%. Moreover, only 17% voiced support for a new wave of mobilization. Researchers highlighted a notable disparity between people's aspirations for the future and their expectations for Putin's next term.

Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] discussed with researchers from the Laboratory of Public Sociology how Russians justify the war with Ukraine by moving from shock at its beginning to accepting mass killings as inevitable.

The main Russian propaganda TV channels, the Rossiya-1 [Russia-1] government-owned federal TV channel and Channel One [Russian state-owned TV channel], ignored the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine. The only mention of the two years of war came in a phrase in the Vremya [Time] evening newscast. The refusal of federal channels to cover the second anniversary of the start of the war may be a reaction to changes in public opinion and the increasing number of supporters calling for an end to the war.


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on how Russian authorities are developing a program for military-patriotic education of the youth. The main features of state patriotism include the cult of war, isolationism and "traditional values."

Relatives of mobilized soldiers shared with the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet the efforts they make to bring back their loved ones, either alive or dead.