The Russian government has endorsed a bill that would prevent employers from terminating the employment of a widow within a year of her husband’s death, if he had been fighting in Ukraine. Currently, existing laws protect certain groups, including mothers of children under three and single mothers raising children with disabilities, from employment termination.
A group of lawmakers from both houses of the Federal Assembly of Russia has introduced a bill that would exempt vehicles donated for "humanitarian needs and the execution of certain tasks in the field of defense and security" in the annexed territories from duties and taxes. On paper, the bill concerns transportation means donated to the military by "volunteers." However, the Sota media outlet notes that it also provides for the duty-free delivery of vehicle registration documents. The existing legislation requires manufacturers, dealerships or customs offices to issue these documents as part of a vehicle’s registration in the Russian Federation. Vehicles lacking proper documentation are likely stolen. The proposed bill, if enacted, would allow duty-free importation of vehicles into the Russian Federation, allegedly for the needs of annexed territories. Afterwards, however, importers could legally sell such vehicles at market value.
A law enforcement officer beat up Aysuvak Yavgastin, another participant arrested in the wake of the protests in Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic]. Yavgastin had been charged with organizing and participating in mass unrest, as well as assaulting a police officer with intent to kill.
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation was seeking to arrest the Bashkortostan resident Rifat Dautov in Moscow for his role in civil disturbances while the man died in custody charged for alleged offenses during the protests in Ufa, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] revealed. On Jan. 26, an application was filed with the Basmanny court in Moscow to secure Dautov's arrest, along with two other activists: Ruslan Gabbasov, a co-founder of Bashkort [public Bashkir national organization] who had by then emigrated from Russia, and Samat Davletov, who had participated in protests in Baymak and was detained at the same time as Dautov. Davletov was sent to a pre-trial detention center, while Gabbasov was arrested in absentia. The charges against the deceased Dautov, who had been on the wanted list since Jan. 22, were dropped.
Wives of mobilized residents of the "DPR" joined the weekly demonstration organized by Put Domoy [Way Home], a Telegram channel that unites disgruntled relatives of Russian men who were called up to fight in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The women laid flowers, tied with white ribbons featuring printed appeals for peace and the safe return of their loved ones, at the Eternal Flame memorial in Yenakiieve. This was the second time the demonstration was staged in the "DPR." The first such rally took place a week ago on Jan. 22.
Zaschita Prav Mobilizovannyh, a Telegram channel advocating for the rights of mobilized civilians, posted a video filmed by one of its female members who spoke about her attempts to meet with the authorities and discuss the problems related to mobilization. Having received a long list of decrees and ordinances in response to her appeals, the woman described her experience as "legalized lawlessness." According to the activist, injured soldiers are being returned to the war zone as soon as possible without proper treatment, while those with minor wounds are being treated directly at the frontline. All leave permissions that were not granted in 2023 were declared expired, while instead of being rotated, mobilized soldiers are allegedly being sent to the hottest spot of the front in Avdiivka. With the authorities unable or unwilling to deal with the problem, the women have no other option but to struggle for the demobilization of their loved ones who have been fighting for more than a year.
In Perm, a recruitment facility for contract military service has opened on the site of the Khromaya Loshad [Lame Horse] nightclub, which burned down on Dec. 5, 2009, resulting in the loss of 156 lives.
Vladimir Rashchupkin, the former head of the Azov town administration in the Rostov region, signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense and went to war against Ukraine after failing to appeal his sentence for abuse of power.
Dmitry Tomilin, a former policeman from the city of Zelenograd, a Moscow district, has returned home after being released from his penal colony and has joined the war. In 2016, Tomilin and his colleague Vitaly Tolpeko were involved in a deadly incident when a quarrel broke out while drinking with a female acquaintance. Tolpeko and Tomilin decided to kill the woman and hide her body in a well. In 2017, Tomilin was sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony for being part of a group involved in the murder. However, he currently works as a trainer at a fitness center in Zelenograd. The organization openly states on their website that Tomilin is a "veteran of the special military operation" in his trainer profile.
The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel has published several stories told by female relatives of mobilized soldiers. According to these women, despite severe and contagious diseases such as hepatitis B and C, the men are being sent to the war, and unit commanders are allegedly disregarding orders from prosecutors to discharge these individuals from service.
In the Sverdlovsk region, Ivan Komarov and Roman Kalmykov, two former mercenaries from the Wagner Group, have been detained on suspicion of raping and robbing a local female resident. According to police reports, they were apprehended in Severouralsk, the location where Komarov's mother resides.
The Astra Telegram channel has reported that Fidan Khayerzamanov, a soldier of the 31st Motorized Rifle Regiment, has been detained on suspicion of shooting three civilians in the town of Kreminna. Two of his fellow soldiers, Igor Dmitriev and Azamat Gareev, are also wanted in connection to the case. They are suspected of murdering Alla Burlutskaya, her husband Andrey Rubans and her mother. The motives for the murder remain unknown. This incident adds to previous reports of mass murders of civilians allegedly committed by Russian soldiers in occupied territories.
Military lawyers from the Voyennye Advokaty Telegram channel are analyzing the judicial practices regarding cases of going AWOL for more than one month. Despite their efforts, no acquittals have been identified for this charge, although instances of case dismissal during preliminary investigations are not rare. In the past year, a novel approach has surfaced, where servicemen could receive probation by submitting a report indicating their intention to go to war. However, in recent months, there has been an increasing number of verdicts where the court did not impose probation, even when convicted individuals expressed their willingness to return to the frontline. This trend may be linked to the possibility of signing a new contract with the Ministry of Defense after serving time in prison.
Garrison military courts from the Southern Military District have reviewed new cases against servicemen found guilty of going AWOL. Some of these individuals had previously participated in the war against Ukraine, a factor that the courts have considered as mitigating circumstances:
- Mobilized soldier Yevgeny Goltzman has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, facing charges related to two instances of leaving the unit without permission and theft. Goltzman has appealed to Putin for clemency, offering to enlist in the war against Ukraine in the event of a non-custodial sentence.
- The Garrison Military Court in the city of Maykop has sentenced mobilized soldier Vladimir Litenkov to five years in a penal colony. In late June 2023, he left the temporary location of his unit and returned home, and he was apprehended by the police on Oct. 18. The court recognized Litenkov's participation in the war and military awards as mitigating factors.
- Contract soldier Roman Goryachiv has been sentenced to seven years in prison for violating statutory relations and going AWOL. He was absent from service from March to April 2023 until his apprehension.
The Garrison Military Court in the Zabaykalsky region has sentenced serviceman Sergey Zolotaryov to five and a half years of a penal colony for going AWOL during the mobilization period. On Dec. 24, 2022, after being discharged from the hospital, the soldier did not return to his unit and was apprehended in July 2023.
The same court has sentenced serviceman Ilya Butenko to two years in a penal settlement for refusing to follow orders during combat. According to the court's version, Butenko "verbally and then in writing refused to participate in combat, as manifested by refusing to go on a duty trip."
A court in Saint Petersburg has sentenced serviceman Sergey Medvedev to seven years in a maximum security penal colony on charges of desertion. According to the court, Medvedev failed to report to his military unit following his leave and evaded both military command and law enforcement authorities. He was apprehended on Oct. 13, 2023. Medvedev claimed that he had no intention of neglecting his duties but went into hiding out of fear of facing responsibility.
In the city of Cheboksary, authorities have apprehended a primary school teacher on charges related to an act of terror. Investigators reveal that on the evening of Jan. 28, she recorded a video address in support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and distributed it among the students' parents, followed by allegedly setting fire to the school where she was employed. A security guard spotted and promptly extinguished the blaze, resulting in no injuries. During interrogation, the woman stated that her actions were prompted by "instructions from unidentified individuals," and her arrest occurred while she was attempting to steal gold—a task she claimed was assigned by law enforcement to ascertain whether parents in her class were financially supporting Ukraine.
Governor of the Magadan region Sergey Nosov has proposed conducting a campaign to support the military during the Russian presidential elections. He suggests weaving camouflage nets, manufacturing trench candles, and preparing "dry showers" for soldiers directly at polling stations.
An Irkutsk post office supervisor has been terminated from her position after refusing to accept trench candle shipments for the military due to concerns about the suitability of the post office building for this purpose.
The Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] Telegram channel analyzed a series of recent sentences handed down to Wagner Group mercenaries by judges in Russia. In these sentences, the courts tend to overlook previous convictions and impose insignificant punishments. Attorneys for the mercenaries, in their appeal filings, are attempting to expunge previous convictions from their clients’ criminal records.
The Sever.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet describes how the conditions for convicts participating in the war with Ukraine have changed and the circumstances the convicts and their relatives are encountering in reality.