The Federal Service for Labor and Employment has clarified that the absence of military registration documents is not a reason to refuse employment. However, the Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel stresses that, even though there are no legal restrictions on employment, people without a military ID or registration certificate should expect a draft office to be notified. Employers are obligated to inform them within three days about any new hire liable for military duty but lacking military registration documents. It is worth noting that this rule only applies to employees, excluding individual entrepreneurs and other self-employed contractors.
Following an extraordinary meeting, the Tula regional parliament submitted a bill to the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] proposing to permit the recruitment of foreigners with criminal records. The current legislation allows this only for Russian citizens. The bill also proposes to exempt from punishment individuals convicted of minor and moderate offenses, if they sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense before March 1. This provision applies to both foreigners and Russian citizens.
Details have emerged of a meeting held on Jan. 11 between Boris Nadezhdin, a politician aiming to run against Putin in Russia's upcoming presidential election, and a group of women whose husbands had been mobilized to fight in Ukraine. The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel reported that 14 activists of the Put Domoy [The Way Home] movement attended the meeting (10, according to the Gorizontalnaya Rossiya [Horizontal Russia] media outlet). The activists noted that Nadezhdin has so far been the only election candidate who agreed to meet with them. During the meeting, the women discussed the problems faced by families of mobilized soldiers. They expressed particular outrage over the fact that while 18,000 pardoned ex-convicts have already returned home after a matter of months in the combat zone, the Kremlin refuses to discharge mobilized civilians until the end of the war. Last but not least, they were hurt and angry by the comments made by Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma Andrey Kartapolov in his notorious interview of Jan. 9. Nadezhdin expressed support for the women, saying that it was time to "end this matter with Ukraine" and to start negotiations. However, as the Sota media outlet notes, no straightforward anti-war statements were made by the activists during the meeting.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Valery Bagmet from Russian-occupied Crimea.
Additionally, according to the Astra Telegram channel, two mobilized soldiers died on Jan. 11 in a fire at a bathhouse in the village of Anatolievka in the Kursk region: 26-year-old Dmitry Golubev from Saint Petersburg and 32-year-old Aleksandr Stulov from the Nizhny Novgorod region. Two more conscripts, 20-year-old Pavel S. from the Leningrad region and 20-year old T. Kubanych from Saint Petersburg, were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 41,731 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine, including 5,067 mobilized soldiers. Over the past two weeks, the list has grown by 1,132 soldiers, including 152 mobilized men. The journalists have also been able to determine that at least five Russians born in 2005 and 48 Russians born in 2004 were killed in the war in recent months. It is worth noting that in April 2023, the State Duma approved amendments to the legislation, allowing 18-year-old school graduates to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense.
The Nash Vyhod [Our Way Out] project, initiated by the Ukrainian authorities for the purpose of searching for and returning POWs, reports that 73% of the 180 people who returned to Russia during the last exchange were recruited by the Russian Ministry of Defense in penal colonies. The project notes that the list for exchange is coordinated by the Russian side. Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] checked individuals from the project's published list through a random sample and confirmed that it predominantly consists of those convicted in recent years. According to the relatives of the former prisoners, they are currently in a military unit near Moscow and are undergoing interrogations by the Federal Security Service (FSB).
According to Elena Popova, a human rights activist from the Movement of Conscientious Objectors, a human rights organization supporting those who refuse to perform military service, warrant officer Roman Esenov was forcibly sent to the frontline despite his health condition, which only permitted him to perform non-combatant service. In the fall of 2023, Esenov, serving as a contract-based paramedic in the 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade, had a conflict with his superior, resulting in Esenov being severely beaten and hospitalized. According to Esenov's relatives, he was illegally sent to the combat zone to complicate the investigation.
Lieutenant colonel Irek Magasumov of the 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade, a Hero of Russia, suspected of murdering an 18-year-old girl in a bar in Luhansk, has been additionally charged with hooliganism. Following the murder, Magasumov reportedly took a Niva vehicle from the junior soldiers to travel back to the unit. According to the Kommersant daily newspaper, investigators were considering the possibility of lessening Magasumov’s charge to "negligent homicide."
In Dalnerechensk, Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject], a court has sentenced Maksim Volkovoy, an ex-convict recruited by the Wagner Group to participate in the war, to seven years in a penal colony for the murder of a fellow drinker. The court considered Volkovoy's participation in the invasion of Ukraine and the awards he received as mitigating factors. It was also determined that the conflict was instigated by the victim, whose "comments about the military operation in Ukraine had deeply hurt the defendant's feelings." Despite the court's conclusion that Volkovoy had no prior convictions, Mediazona discovered that he had been sentenced to eight years in a penal colony in 2022 for the murder of another fellow drinker with a knife. According to the Sirena Telegram channel, as of Dec. 18, 2023, individuals returning from the war in Ukraine have committed at least 83 crimes, resulting in the loss of lives of no fewer than 27 people, as reported by the Agentstvo.Novosti outlet.
In Novosibirsk, a military court has sentenced serviceman Maksim Perelyotov to five and a half years in a penal colony for going AWOL. Perelyotov abandoned his unit three times, but each time voluntarily turned himself in to the commandant's office, identifying himself as a soldier gone AWOL.
A court in Saint Petersburg has fined music teacher Tatyana Limeni-Osipova 40,000 rubles [$450] for failing to report a crime. According to investigators, she knew that her friend Maksim Asriyan planned to set fire to a draft office. The investigation into Asriyan continues, and a recent charge of treason has been added to the case against him.
In Russia's constituent Republic of Chuvashia, Vadim Filyankin, a resident of Mordovia [Russia's constituent republic], has been sentenced to two years of imprisonment for setting fire to relay cabinets on the railway in the town of Alatyr. In December 2022, a group of young people was detained in Alatyr on charges of several episodes of railway arson, which they allegedly have committed for the "Freedom of Russia Legion." Filyankin and another defendant, 19-year-old Artyom Begoyan, have entered into a pretrial agreement, with Begoyan testifying against his accomplices. The verdict for the third defendant in the case, Nikita Kitaykin, is currently under appeal. All the defendants refused to communicate with human rights activists.
The regional court of Bryansk has sentenced Pyotr Kolistratov, a resident of the Rostov region, to eight years of imprisonment for attempted treason and trying to illegally cross the border. According to investigators, Kolistratov decided to "switch to the enemy’s side."
The Yaroslavl regional court has once again issued a verdict for businessman Rovshan Namazov, who had previously been sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment on charges of treason. However, the initial sentence was overturned due to a "significant violation of criminal procedural law." According to the investigation by Mediazona, this marks the first time in at least the last five years where a guilty verdict under the article of treason has been overturned, leading to a retrial. The details of Namazov's criminal case remain undisclosed, but it is known that he was selling engines for military vehicles on the largest Russian classified advertisements website, Avito.
The FSB has reported the detention of an employee of one of the sensitive enterprises in the Penza region, who allegedly established contact with a "representative of Polish intelligence services" to transfer information about production volumes. In exchange, the man hoped for assistance in relocating abroad. A criminal case has been initiated against the detainee for cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state.
In Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic], students from the mechanical engineering department of the East Siberia State University of Technology and Management have produced 10 marching axes for Russian soldiers from old auto parts. Previously, the same students sewed protective camouflage kits and wove camouflage nets.
The OPLOT patriotic public organization in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject] has announced an expansion of its basic military training courses in response to increased attention from Ukrainian media. Initially training adult women, the center has now opened the courses to teenagers aged 14 and older.
An analysis of open sources by the independent media outlet Bumaga [Paper] indicates that at least 18 students have been expelled from universities in Saint Petersburg for political reasons since the beginning of the war. The exact number of students expelled for political reasons in Saint Petersburg remains elusive, as universities do not publish expulsion orders.
The Serditaya Chuvashia [Angry Chuvashia] Telegram channel has shared footage from a tractor rally in support of the "special military operation" that took place in the village of Batyrevo, Chuvashia.
Members of the "Ochnis!" [Wake Up!] movement have launched a website called the "War Calculator," allowing individuals to calculate how the funds allocated by authorities for producing UAVs and missiles used in attacks on Ukraine could have been used. The website randomly generates a set of social goods and civil objects.
The Foundation for the Support of Crime Victims has compiled a special report for Putin, detailing the infringement of victims' rights resulting from the pardoning of criminals for their participation in the war. According to the foundation's experts, in 2022, Putin repeatedly signed decrees granting pardons to convicts while simultaneously expunging their criminal records, complicating subsequent state monitoring. Additionally, the foundation notes that former convicts receive "significant preference": the period of their participation in the war is limited, in contrast to mobilized and contract soldiers, whose service term is open-ended. To address these issues, the foundation proposes legislative measures to the president. These include introducing administrative supervision for those returning from the frontline, ensuring compensation guarantees for the harm they have caused, informing victims about criminals' pardons and developing social adaptation programs.
Mediazona and Novaya Vkladka [New Tab] have investigated over 30 domestic murders related to disagreements about the "special military operation," shedding light on some of these conflicts.
A journalist from the Vot Tak [Like This] media outlet worked a shift at an assembly warehouse producing equipment for Russian soldiers and has written an article, providing insights into the people employed in such facilities, the employment process and working conditions.
The Vyorstka media outlet has published a piece on how people on both sides of the frontline celebrated the New Year. The article includes interviews with those affected by the war and those involved in it.