mobilization briefs
January 15

Mobilization in Russia for Jan. 12-14, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

On Jan. 13, activists of the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement organized another action for the return of their loved ones from the war. Women laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow. According to the published video recording, approximately 20 people participated in the event. After laying flowers, some activists staged solitary pickets. One of the movement's active participants, Maria Andreeva, was detained at the monument to Marshal Zhukov on Manezhnaya Square during a picket demanding "Freedom for mobilized soldiers! Return husbands, fathers and sons!" A correspondent from SOTAvision [Russian independent news outlet] captured on video Andreeva shouting during her detention, "Our guys on the frontline are breaking their asses for this government, and they are detaining the wife of a mobilized man." According to Andreeva, another police officer later intervened, ordering, "Don't touch this one! Haven't you heard? Don't touch this one!" After that, her documents were checked, and she was released. This information is confirmed by the SOTAvision correspondent who witnessed the detention. Andreeva noted that this picket was also an experiment demonstrating that the police have an order from above not to touch military spouses. She called on other military spouses to be more active in participating in pickets.

At the same time, the planned action to lay flowers at the eternal flame on Mars Field in Saint Petersburg, scheduled for 2:00 p.m., did not take place. According to a correspondent from the Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet, none of the movement's participants had arrived by the appointed time. Instead, there were only unknown men in civilian clothes at the memorial, presumably employees of the General Directorate for Countering Extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, known as "Center E." They were photographing everyone who approached the site.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Olga Romanova, Executive Director of the Rus’ Sidyashchaya [Russia Behind Bars] civil rights movement, has stated in an interview with the German publication Bild that heating is turned off in Russian penal colonies during severe frosts to force convicts to go to the war. The Federal Penitentiary Service has rejected these accusations. Prior to this, human rights activist Olga Bendas claimed that the leadership of some Russian penal colonies allegedly confiscates warm clothing from convicts as a means of pressuring them into signing contracts with the Ministry of Defense.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Yevgeny Novikov from the Irkutsk region, Yury Shaimardanov from the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject], Aleksandr Akulinin from the Orenburg region, Yevgeny Upkholoyev from Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic] and Aleksey Drobotun from the Rostov region.

The Krym.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has identified the names of 568 Russian soldiers from Crimea who were killed in the war in Ukraine (according to the calculations of Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, at least 548 residents of the occupied peninsula were killed during the war).

The former Mayor of Vladivostok, Oleg Gumenyuk, sentenced to 12 years for bribery, has gone to fight in Ukraine. Reports about Gumenyuk signing a military contract surfaced in November 2023, and now his lawyer, Aleksandr Kitaev, has confirmed the news. However, Kitaev mentioned that he does not have precise information about his client's current location. On Jan. 18, 2023, a Vladivostok court found Gumenyuk guilty of taking bribes totaling 38 million rubles [$426,600] and sentenced him to 16.5 years in a maximum security penal colony, along with a fine of 150 million rubles [$1.68 million]. An appellate court later reduced the prison sentence by four and half years, but in the end, the former official, who had always claimed to be innocent, only served a fraction of his sentence.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported about a group of Russian soldiers, who had been wounded or were suffering from serious illnesses, such as Hepatitis C or HIV. These soldiers were waiting for a military medical board to decide on their service fitness category when their commanders ordered them back to the frontline. Some of the soldiers enlisted, knowing about their illnesses, while others were infected during their service. Commanders often held them in basements and pits to isolate them from the rest. Although many in the group signed contracts voluntarily, they now seek to return home, citing a Ministry of Defense directive that outlines illnesses and disabilities, which preclude contract-based military service during mobilization or martial law. Unfortunately, as noted by the Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel, servicemen already under contract will not be able to resign even if they suffer from one of the listed conditions.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the News] Telegram channel discovered that Moscow courts in a single day banned five videos in Russia, all focused on discussing methods of evading military service. These videos, released in 2022, covered topics such as the announcement of mobilization in Russia on April 1, 2022, interviews with human rights advocate Aleksey Tabalov, leader of the human rights organization Shkola Prizyvnika [Conscript School], a Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] podcast, and a guide on avoiding conscription through complaints of vegetovascular dystonia. The court rulings emphasized that draft evasion in Russia is criminally punishable and argued that such information poses a threat to the foundations of the Russian constitutional order. Despite the bans, all five videos are still accessible on YouTube, with only one being restricted within Russia.

In the Rostov region, at least three servicemen paid officers 40,000 rubles [$450] each to avoid deployment to the war with Ukraine. One of them, Roman Solovyov, reached an agreement with the assault group commander Eduard Kuleev to be exempted from frontline duty by transferring 40,000 rubles [$450] to Kuleev's wife. Solovyov was fined 35,000 rubles [$390] by the court, and Kuleev's actions are classified as fraud, as per court records. This follows a similar case in Volgograd where five military personnel were convicted for bribery-related attempts to avoid deployment, resulting in suspended sentences and fines ranging from 100,000 to 750,000 rubles [$1,100-8,420]. Notably, there have been no reported legal actions against the commanding officer implicated in the bribery scheme.

The SHOT Telegram channel reported the arrest of a 24-year-old local in Krasnodar, suspected of setting railroad equipment on fire. According to investigators, for a reward of $200 from a "Ukrainian handler," he unlocked and burnt a cabinet supplying lubrication to the rails on the Krasnodar-Sortirovochny—Pashkovskaya section in mid-December. The detained person is now facing criminal charges for acts of terror, with a potential sentence of up to 20 years in a penal colony.


Big sports events will be held in Volgograd in memory of the Wagner Group soldier Aleksey Nagin killed in Ukraine.

The Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] Telegram channel reports on how authorities and propagandists in Yakutia are attempting to convey the idea that life in the trenches is a continuation of their usual village life to attract people to the war in Ukraine. They position the war as a festive event, referring to the sense of rural community, traditions and historical memory.


The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet, tells the story of two residents of Chukotka who, in the fall of 2022, following the announcement of mobilization, decided to escape to the United States by boat to avoid being sent to the war in Ukraine.