On Christmas, Putin met with the relatives of deceased participants in the invasion of Ukraine. The meeting, according to him, should serve as a "signal" to Russian officials at all levels that more attention needs to be given to the problems of the military and their families. Putin was informed of issues with insurance payments related to the deaths of volunteer fighters: the SOGAZ company only provides compensation to members of the BARS unit. "Honestly, this is the first time I've heard about it," Putin reacted, promising to look into payments for the families of deceased servicemen and volunteer fighters. During the meeting, he did not discuss the "difficult matters," presumably referring to the loss of loved ones in the war.
According to the analysis by the Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] Telegram channel, the families of the deceased soldiers were carefully selected: among them were two pro-government activists and the family of the abbot of the church affiliated with the Strategic Missile Forces, who died in November 2022. Several children invited to the President had already met with him on Nov. 4th on the Day of National Unity. This is not the first meeting of Putin with pre-selected relatives of deceased soldiers. In November 2022, he talked to the mothers of war participants, and, as Agentstvo established, the meeting also included employees of budget organizations and participants in pro-government movements.
In the city of Yekaterinburg, during the New Year holidays, law enforcement conducted raids on foreigners who recently acquired Russian citizenship but did not register for military service. They carried out a series of raids in shopping centers, dormitories, and markets, resulting in the detention of 15 men. According to the statement from the regional Investigative Committee, since the end of November 2023, 450 people have been registered for military service as a result of these raids, and 150 men have signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense.
Nepal has halted issuing permits for its citizens to work in Russia and Ukraine after several Nepali nationals died in the war in Ukraine. Work permits allow individuals to rely on government support in emergency situations. According to authorities, at least 10 Nepalese citizens fighting on the side of Russia have died in Ukraine, with about 100 still missing in action. In total, up to 200 Nepali citizens signed contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. In December, Nepalese authorities requested Russia to stop recruiting their citizens for military service. Additionally, 10 individuals involved in recruiting for the war were arrested.
According to human rights advocate Olga Bendas, the management of some Russian prisons has allegedly decided to use cold torture to force convicts to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense. According to Bendas' sources, representatives of the Ministry of Defense visit prisons every two weeks. Since convicts are reluctant to sign contracts, prison authorities allegedly exert pressure on them by confiscating warm clothing. There has been no independent confirmation of this information.
Wives of mobilized soldiers and activists from the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement staged another protest in the center of Moscow on Jan. 6, calling for the return of their loved ones from the war. Women wearing white headscarves laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Participants of the movement provided comments to the press (1, 2, 3, 4). Additionally, women engaged in solitary pickets in front of the Ministry of Defense and the Presidential Administration, demanding the return of their husbands. In total, around 15 women participated in the Moscow protest.
Source: Sota media outlet] | Wives of mobilized soldiers and activists from the Put Domoy movement, wearing white headscarves, laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow.
Another action of laying flowers was organized by the movement at Mars Field in Saint Petersburg, with the participation of five women. Similar actions took place in 11 regions of the country, including Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic], the Vladimir region, and the Voronezh region. The movement's participants also prepared leaflets demanding the return of mobilized soldiers from the war and urged the families of the mobilized to stop being afraid and join their actions. Reports on the events were prepared by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Sotavision.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Andrey Reshke from the Tomsk region, Sergey Sukharnikov from the Murmansk region, Aleksandr Garkiyn from the Vladimir region, Mikhail Fryshkin from Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic], Aleksandr Demidenkov, Aleksey Karpushin, and Andrey Zaritovsky from the Irkutsk region. The names of two more mobilized soldiers who died a year ago in the strike on the vocational school in the city of Makiivka have also become known: Sergey Konovalov and Aleksey Dolgov. Thus, the number of those who died on New Year's night a year ago reached at least 146 people.
In Buryatia, on Dec. 31, at least 11 soldiers who were killed in Ukraine were buried. Among them were 10 volunteer fighters and one professional military serviceman.
Regions report on local residents who have returned from captivity as part of the exchange that took place on Jan. 3. In particular, six residents of the Perm region, five residents of the Sverdlovsk region, three residents of the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], one resident of Vladimir, and one resident of Buryatia, who spent a year and a half in captivity, have returned to Russia.
The draft office of the Vladimir region has, for the first time, awarded combat veteran certificates to mercenaries from the Wagner Group who participated in the war in Ukraine. This was reported by the regional branch of the Defenders of the Fatherland Fund. Earlier, the Murmansk branch of the fund also reported on the issuance of veteran certificates to mercenaries.
An explosion occurred in a hookah lounge in Domodedovo, a suburb of Moscow. According to the Ostorozhno, Moskva [Careful, Moscow] publication, three flashbang grenades detonated, resulting in injuries to three individuals. As reported by the Telegram channel "112," four people were affected and subsequently sent to a hospital. The man who threw the grenades has been apprehended, it is claimed that he suffers from a mental illness and was in a state of alcohol intoxication.
- Nikolay Kostin received a five-year prison term;
- Contract soldier Nikolay Kuznetsov was sentenced to five and a half years in prison. After treatment in a hospital in February 2023, he did not return to his unit, reporting for duty 11 days later. Soon he fled again, and in September, he was apprehended by the police;
- Contract soldier Alan Ezeev received a five-and-a-half-year suspended sentence. He was absent from duty from March 3 to June 6, 2023. Ezeev claimed to have repeatedly requested deployment to the frontline, and the court considered this desire, imposing a suspended sentence;
- In the city of Stavropol, the court gave a one-and-a-half-year suspended sentence to contract soldier Vadim Bachurin. He arrived at his new duty station on July 10 instead of June 15. In court, the accused promised to continue service in a combat zone and received a suspended sentence;
- Mobilized soldier Oleg Kurochkin from the Rostov region, who was absent from duty from Jan. 4 to 19, 2023, received a two-year suspended sentence. He expressed remorse during the trial;
- The court in the city of Nalchik sentenced officer Dagi Gadiev to five years in a penal settlement. The defendant explained his absence by caring for his sick mother, but the court rejected this argument;
- In the city of Krasnodar, the court sentenced Senior Sergeant Leonid Antonovsky from the 10th separate GRU [Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation] brigade to three years in prison and stripped him of his military rank. According to the court, he was absent from duty twice from August to October of last year;
- Mobilized soldier Nazariy Sidelnikov received a five-and-a-half-year prison term. In January 2023, he failed to report for duty after leave, and was arrested by the police in late June;
- The court in Stavropol sentenced mobilized soldier Boris Zhukavin to one and a half years on probation. On June 22, 2023, he left the temporary deployment point of the unit and went home, returning to the military investigative department on July 17. Zhukavin expressed a desire to continue service in a combat zone, which may have been grounds for the suspended sentence;
- The Southern District Military Court confirmed the five-and-a-half-year prison sentence for Sergey Zaytsev. In June 2022, he left his place of duty but voluntarily reported to the military investigative department in December.
In 2023, the Tomsk Garrison Military Court reviewed 48 criminal cases under the charge of going AWOL. All defendants were found guilty, with 39 men receiving suspended sentences. Additionally, seven men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 5 to 13 years. The maximum sentence of 13 years was imposed on a serviceman accused not only of desertion but also of drug trafficking and theft. It is noteworthy that in 2022, the court handled only 14 cases of AWOL, and in 2021, there were 15 such cases.
A resident of the city of Kirov has been sentenced to two years in prison for setting fire to a contract military service recruitment facility. The man was found guilty under the charge of "defamation of the Russian Army," leading to dangerous consequences (Part 2 of Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code). In court, Vladimirov claimed that he accidentally set the tent on fire when he "curiously" looked through its window, attempting to illuminate the space with a lighter's flame. Subsequently, he recorded the burning tent on his phone and sent it to two recipients on WhatsApp. The damage was estimated at 23,000 rubles [$260].
The Federal Security Service (FSB) has reported the detention of a 16-year-old teenager from Russia's constituent Republic of Dagestan, who is accused of attempting to set fire to a Su-34 bomber in January 2024 at the Shagol military airfield in the Chelyabinsk region. Additionally, the detainee is suspected of involvement in arson attacks on the railway in Dagestan in November and December of 2023. The court has placed the young man in pre-trial detention for two months, and he faces up to 20 years of imprisonment under the charge of sabotage.
According to the Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the news] Telegram channel, 38-year-old Miroslav Marikovsky from the Moscow region has been found guilty of high treason. The publication does not specify the sentence imposed on the man, but the verdict has already been appealed. In June, Marikovsky, who lived in the Moscow region, was detained in the center of the city of Tambov. Police stated that he was waving his arms and using foul language on the street. The man was arrested for three days, after which he was charged with attempted high treason. Details of the accusation were not disclosed. The investigation into the case took only a few months.
War participant Mikhail Divinsky has been appointed as the director of a residential child care community in the Kaliningrad region. The new director is introduced as a football fan of the Spartak club and an educator who has been working with children for many years, including those in difficult life situations.
The Danilovsky bread factory in the Yaroslavl region has been repurposed from bread production to military products. Dmitry Fomin, the Minister of the Agricultural and Industrial Complex of the region, stated that bread production at the facility was unprofitable. Consequently, an investor proposed opening a new production facility at the plant for "manufacturing containers and packaging" for products in the defense industry.
Landing sites for UAVs will be established in the Samara region as part of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems national project. The regional government has issued a relevant resolution, and the construction for the UAV facilities will be supervised by the regional Ministry of Transport.