mobilization briefs
February 2

Mobilization in Russia for Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

In the State Duma, Russia's lower house of the Federal Assembly, a bill to penalize "crimes against the security of the Russian Federation" with asset seizures has been passed in consecutive second and third readings. The decision was unanimous, receiving 377 votes in favor with no abstentions or opposition. Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called the initiative a "law on scoundrels." Once the bill takes effect, courts will have the authority to order the confiscation of property and deprivation of honorary titles when sentencing individuals convicted of various political offenses, notably including "discrediting the Russian Armed Forces" and spreading "fake news" about them. Detailed discussions of the bill were provided in our previous summaries (1, 2, 3, 4).

The State Duma is set to review a bill aimed at compensating de facto spouses of soldiers killed in Ukraine. The initiative concerns unregistered unions where partners lived together in a shared household for at least three years, or only one year if they had a child together. In the event of a soldier's death, the de facto wife would be allowed to petition the court under a special procedure to officially recognize their concubinage, in order to receive a share of the inheritance and statutory benefits. Notably, the suggested amendments would apply retroactively and would therefore cover unions formed before their enactment.

Protests in Bashkortostan

In Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic], arrests of local residents for participating in the protests on Jan. 17 in the town of Baymak and Jan. 19 in the city of Ufa continue. Criminal proceedings related to the organization and participation in mass riots have been initiated against Ilnur Khazhyev. Despite the defense's request for house arrest, the court has decided to remand the man to pre-trial detention until March 17. Khazhyev is the sole breadwinner for his family, and one of his five children is disabled. Additionally, it has been reported that a student, Vilnur Kudashev, and three other young people from the village of Yuldybayevo have been detained. Ilyshat Shayakhmetov was taken into custody by the police from the village of Ishmurzino in the Baymak district.

The Supreme Court of Bashkortostan has rejected the appeal against the arrest of Dim Davletkildin, who was beaten by law enforcement officers after his detention. The judge refused to consider the inclusion of medical records confirming the assault, citing the absence of the original documents. However, it is worth noting that obtaining the originals is not feasible as lawyers are not permitted access to the pre-trial detention center. Despite the lawyer's statement that Davletkildin suffered spinal injuries from the beating, he will remain in pre-trial detention.

Zalia Akhmadeyeva, the sister of Bashkir activist Rifat Dautov, who died following his detention, shared details about her visit to the Investigative Committee with her lawyer. During the visit, they were assured that an "objective and thorough investigation" into Dautov’s death would be conducted. In light of this, the lawyer specifically requested personal involvement in all examinations related to the case.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

The authorities persist in their efforts against the relatives of mobilized soldiers who are advocating for the return of their loved ones from the war. In a live broadcast, Vladimir Solovyev [Russian propagandist] insulted Lidiya Nekrasova, the mother of a mobilized soldier. Nekrasova had previously reported on the problems faced by mobilized soldiers and shared the results of two months of attempting to establish a dialogue with the authorities. Solovyev claimed that mobilized soldiers receive substantial compensation for their participation in the war and questioned whether Nekrasova deserved her husband, despite her having a son who was mobilized. Meanwhile, Igor Ashmanov, a confidante of Putin's election campaign, deleted appeals from military spouses on his social media page and posted an offensive message. Despite these attacks, activists remain undeterred, continuing to send their appeals to Putin's confidants.

The court has rejected Paulina Safronova, an activist from the Put Domoy [Way Home] Telegram channel, in her lawsuit against the administration of Dolgoprudny for denying permission for a rally. Safronova stated that the refusal was based on the argument that "events can only be organized by the city administration, and for all others, there is the COVID reason to refuse." Moreover, she reported that unknown individuals who had been waiting for her at the court followed her home.

Female relatives of mobilized men from the occupied territories of the Donetsk region in Ukraine received threats from law enforcement officers after participating in protest actions of the Put Domoy movement.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Residents of the city of Orel have reported receiving calls from a bot offering to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense, as per information shared by the Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the News] Telegram channel. These calls are coming from the phone number of the Ministry of Defense's hotline. Citizens of Orel are being offered contracts to participate in the "special military operation."

According to the National Resistance Center of Ukraine, there are reports that Crimean students are being urged to enroll in courses for FPV drone operators. Supposedly, the training is conducted at a training range near Sevastopol, and upon completion, participants are offered contracts with the Russian Army.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Ivan Vyatkin from the Omsk region, Vitaly Perfiliev from the Irkutsk region, Mikhail Myasnikov from Russia's constituent Republic of Chuvashia, Oleg Skovorodin from the Volgograd region, Alisher Karabekov from Crimea and Aleksey Blokhin from the Vladimir region.

News has also emerged of the death of another conscript, 19-year-old Ivan Rakitin, who was killed during the shelling of Belgorod. The young man was buried on Jan. 16, with the specific date and details of his death not disclosed.

The Astra Telegram channel has reported the first death of a serviceman following detention in an illegal prison for refuseniks located in the village of Rozsypne within the "LPR" territory. Fellow soldiers of the deceased serviceman from the 27th Motor Rifle Brigade have indicated that he had suffered a broken arm and nose, along with extensive bruising, following beatings. Contrary to these accounts, the serviceman's family was informed that he was killed in a shelling attack. The death notice attributes his death to wound shock, multiple rib fractures and visceral injuries.

In Kamensk-Uralsky, Sverdlovsk region, the burial of serviceman Vyacheslav Saraev has been delayed for a week. The deceased's relatives have refused to proceed with the ceremony, expressing concerns that they may not receive the death gratuity payments entitled to those killed in the Ukraine invasion. The official death report attributes his death to heart failure, although his commander has stated he died from wounds. According to the law, benefits are only granted to relatives of individuals killed by injuries or diseases acquired while performing military duties. Consequently, the relatives are seeking to ascertain the precise cause of Saraev's death.

For the second time this year, Russia and Ukraine have conducted a prisoner-of-war exchange. This marks the first POW exchange since the incident involving the shooting down of the IL-76 military transport aircraft, which, according to the Russian side, had Ukrainian POWs on board. The Russian Ministry of Defense has reported that 195 Russian soldiers have returned from Ukrainian captivity in exchange for "exactly 195 Armed Forces of Ukraine POWs." However, according to reports from the Ukrainian side, 207 people returned home to Ukraine.

A group of former fighters from the Storm-Z unit from Moscow and the Moscow region, who were recruited into the war while serving sentences, have recorded a video addressing their concerns to Putin. They complain about not receiving payments for their service and encountering difficulties in obtaining combat veteran status. This issue has been raised previously in video addresses by former Storm-Z unit fighters from the Orel region and Chuvashia. According to these individuals, ex-convicts across the country are facing similar problems.

The wife of Igor Ostaltsev, a mobilized soldier from the Primorsky region, complained about irregularities in the medical evaluation of her husband. She reported that doctors ignored health issues the man is facing, including a concussion, partial loss of vision and hearing problems, and did not perform the necessary tests. Despite these health issues, Ostaltsev received an "A" service fitness category and is on the verge of being sent back to the frontlines.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

According to data compiled by the Vyorstka media outlet, the year 2023 witnessed a record number of murders in three regions bordering Ukraine, marking the highest in 16 years. The Bryansk region reported 167 murders, Kursk had 190, and Belgorod recorded 552 murders. This represents an unprecedented surge in homicides among all regions. Notably, the previous record in Belgorod was in 2022, with 101 murders. Last year also saw a rise in severe and grave crimes in the Belgorod region.

In Kemerovo, a court sentenced Aleksandr Derzhalov, a mercenary affiliated with the Wagner Group, to seven years in a penal colony for his involvement in a murder attempt. The verdict highlighted Derzhalov's prior presidential pardon and acknowledged his participation in war, evidenced by receiving the "For Valor" medal, as mitigating factors. Investigations by Vyorstka revealed that Derzhalov had a criminal record, having been convicted seven times.

The Southern District Military Court has upheld the sentence for mobilized soldier Ruslan Demakov, who was earlier found guilty of causing severe bodily harm resulting in death and breaching rules of interpersonal conduct among comrades-in-arms. According to case records, Demakov fatally assaulted another soldier for being intoxicated while on duty. Demakov has been sentenced to nine years in a maximum-security penal colony.

A former mercenary from the Wagner Group, Ben Ahmed Sherif, was found guilty of drug offenses and theft. Sherif, originally from Tunisia, arrived in Saint Petersburg. Between 2018 and 2021, he faced four convictions for theft, ultimately leading to a v for attempted robbery in 2021. While in prison in July 2022, Sherif enlisted for the war in Ukraine as part of the Wagner Group. Upon returning from the frontline last year, he was detained in May 2023 for buying drugs. He was found guilty of drug offenses and sentenced to eight months in a penal colony. Considering the time spent in pre-trial detention, Sherif was released right in the courtroom.

The Omsk police have apprehended Yegor Milliarder, a participant in the war with Ukraine from the Krasnoyarsk region, after discovering ten packets of methadone totaling 4.8 kg in his possession. Prior to this, the man had been convicted twice for drug-related crimes. In 2022, he was sentenced by the court to 12 years and 2 months in a penal colony, from where he enlisted for the war.

Russian garrison military courts continue to issue verdicts against military personnel accused on charges of going AWOL:

  • The Novosibirsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced Grigory Pankov to five years in a penal colony. According to the court, Pankov left the unit on Jan. 1, 2023, and was found on Oct. 18.
  • In Pyatigorsk, a soldier has been sentenced to six years in a penal colony for going AWOL twice. The first time he left the unit was on Feb. 22, 2023, and he returned only on May 5. The second time, he went home in June of the same year and returned two weeks later.
  • In Krasnoyarsk, a contract soldier has been sentenced to six years of imprisonment. Private A. did not return to the unit in December 2022 after the end of his leave. At the end of October 2023, he voluntarily came to military investigators.
  • The Borzya Garrison Military Court has sentenced soldier Igor Nepogodyev to six years in a penal colony. On March 11, 2023, he went AWOL, and on Sept. 6, 2023, he was located by military police.
  • The same court has sentenced soldier Aleksandr Chulkov to two years in a penal settlement. Chulkov refused to comply with the commander's order to go on a military mission to Ukraine.

In the Moscow suburb of Dolgoprudny, two 17-year-old youths have been apprehended on suspicion of attempting to set fire to a relay cabinet on the railway section between the Mark and Novodachnaya stations on Jan. 31. The teenagers revealed that unknown individuals had contacted them via a messaging app, offering the task with the promise of reward. A criminal case on charges of sabotage has been initiated against the teenagers.

According to the Telegram channels SHOT and Baza, law enforcement officers in Kursk detained a local elderly woman suspected of setting fire to a relay cabinet on the railway section between the Kursk and Svoboda stations. According to reports, the woman fell victim to fraudsters who initially swindled 313,000 rubles [$3,480] from her and then coerced her into committing the arson. The question of initiating a criminal case for hooliganism is currently under consideration.

A criminal case has been initiated against Mikhail A., an 18-year-old resident of the Arkhangelsk region under charges of "Organizing the activities of a terrorist organization and participating in the activities of such an organization." According to investigators, in 2023, he joined the "Freedom of Russia Legion" ranks due to his anti-war position. Between June and September, following the orders of unknown individuals, he allegedly set fire to two bathhouses on the territory of a military unit. He later vandalized an armored personnel carrier and a stela with indecent inscriptions. On Sept. 23, Mikhail was detained while infiltrating the territory of a military unit with gasoline. He faces up to 20 years of imprisonment.

The Khabarovsk Regional Court has sentenced a local woman to eight years in prison on charges of high treason. The woman was arrested on March 13, 2023. The Federal Security Service (FSB) claims that she transferred money to purchase weapons, ammunition and uniforms for the AFU. Pro-government media also disseminated information that the convicted woman was an activist of the "I am/We are Furgal" movement. However, supporters of Sergei Furgal [Russian politician who served as Governor of the Khabarovsk region from 2018 until his arrest in 2020, which sparked mass protests in the region] have reportedly not recognized her. This has led to suggestions that authorities might be attempting to discredit the movement and its supporters.