mobilization briefs
July 20, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Jul. 18-19, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] approved a bill, granting the National Guard of Russia the right to operate military vehicles [more details in our previous summary], in three readings in one day.

The Federation Council [upper house of the Federal Assembly] approved a package of amendments to legislation on "foreign agents", allowing the state to conduct unscheduled inspections of individuals and organizations that assist "foreign agents." They may be issued warnings, and if they fail to comply, fines will be imposed. The Federation Council also approved a bill banning gender transition and prohibiting individuals who have changed their legal gender marker from adopting children.

It was proposed in the State Duma that military personnel provide DNA samples so that the bodies of those killed in action could be identified. The bill has already been submitted for review by the Government.

The Ministry of Education and Science reported that more than 9,000 applications for admission to Russian universities had been submitted by war veterans and their children. This year, special quotas were allocated for them, amounting to 20 percent of the total number of state-funded places at universities.

Belarus reported the cancellation of border control at the border with Russia. This measure was introduced on May 5. The State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus stated that it was related to the process of ratifying an agreement on mutual recognition of visas with Russia.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Municipal leaders in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject] faced problems with recruiting contract soldiers into the Russian Army. Government sources in the region report a breakdown in recruitment targets set by the federal authorities, with virtually all municipalities failing to meet the plan. Reasons for the failure included people's unwillingness to serve, an unclear mechanism for working with the population, and difficulties in counting the number of those who have already signed contracts. Penalties for failing to meet the recruitment targets for city and settlement heads could be severe, including removal from their leadership positions.

In Saint Petersburg, a trolleybus with a mobile recruiting center for contract service has appeared. By signing a contract at such a mobile center, future contract soldiers can be guaranteed employment at Gorelektrotrans [state unitary enterprise in public transport] after their service period ends.

Natalia Kolesnikova, a member of the Shebekino Territorial Defense Forces, posted a message about recruiting women into their ranks. Kolesnikova said they would receive basic military training, learn tactical medicine and UAV operation. There are no restrictions on age or physical fitness for women.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated with Airat Hamatkhanov and Samat Mustayev from Russia's constituent Republic of Bashkortostan, Daniil Starodubtsev and Igor Pershin from the Samara region, Ivan Utenkov and Gennady Yugov from Russia's constituent Republic of Buryatia, Aleksey Peshkov from the Voronezh region and Pavel Slastin from Russia's constituent Republic of Khakassia.

According to the Astra Telegram channel, a serviceman was injured when the RuAF positions in the Krasnoyaruzhsky district of the Belgorod region came under fire on Jul. 18.

Another burial site of Russian soldiers and the Wagner Group mercenaries was discovered at the town cemetery in Zhigulevsk, Samara region. According to local residents, the graves are located on the roadside and appear to be simply covered with sand and stones. The number of burials is unknown.

Wounded participants of the war with Ukraine, who are currently in a military hospital in Chita, lodged complaints with Deputy Prosecutor General Dmitry Demeshin about the lack of payments and the loss of documents. In response, Demeshin issued directives to the prosecutors of the Primorye and Irkutsk regions to investigate these violations.

Andrey Reshetnikov from the Sverdlovsk region voluntarily went to war. There, he was seriously injured when a tree fell on him, resulting in severe brain damage and the loss of one eye. However, the army is not in a hurry to terminate Andrey's contract. Instead of discharging him, they continuously extend his leave.

Governor of the Novgorod region Andrey Nikitin met with soldiers from the 1008th Regiment in the zone of combat activities after complaints from their relatives and wives about service conditions. According to him, 120 servicemen were sent on leave after the meeting.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings, and Incidents

Three ex-convicts, who were mercenaries from the Wagner Group, were detained in Tuva. The young men were drinking alcohol at a cafe, were rude to the staff and acted aggressively, causing the cafe owners to call the police. A conflict broke out between the ex-convicts and the Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] officers who responded to the call. The mercenaries were detained, and they are now facing criminal charges for the use of force against a representative of the authorities (Article 318 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

A court in the city of Perm ordered 177 days of community service for a 30-year-old member of the Wagner Group Ivan Balabanov, who had just returned from the war. Prior to his departure to the war zone, Balabanov was serving a community service sentence for disorderly conduct. Upon his return, the man reported to the penal inspection board with proof of his veteran status, regardless of which he was taken to the police station where he was held for two days.

The Saratov Garrison Military Court sentenced a contract soldier to three years and six months in a penal colony for going AWOL. In early September 2022, the man failed to report for duty at the military base in the Smolensk region. Until December, he remained at his permanent residence in the Saratov region, after which he reported to the military investigation department voluntarily but fled while criminal proceedings were underway. He was placed on a wanted list and eventually detained in Moscow in June 2023.

More sentences for soldiers going AWOL during the period of mobilization were issued by the Vladimir Garrison Military Court. Senior Sergeant Aleksey Novikov who served under a contract was sentenced to three years in a penal settlement. He served in Ukraine from August to November 2022 and then left home on authorized leave, never to return again. Corporal Artyom Glukhov received two years in a penal settlement. After the expiration of his contract, he applied for resignation, but his application was not accepted by the command.

The Vladimir Garrison Military Court sentenced Artyom Zhidomorov, a warrant officer of the 15th Motorized Rifle Regiment, to 10 years in a maximum security penal colony for attempting drug distribution on a large scale. According to the verdict, in late 2022, Zhidomorov got a job as a distributor in an online drug store. In December, he was arrested by the police, and they found nine packages of metamfepramone with a total weight of 2.23 grams in his possession.

In Kazan, the Federal Security Service (FSB) apprehended a supporter of the "Freedom of Russia Legion," who, according to the intelligence service, was planning acts of terror on military facilities in Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan. During the search at the suspect’s home, they allegedly found transformers, timers for detonators, a quadcopter, silent timing devices, and components for explosives.

Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] has counted the number of AWOL cases registered over the last six months. Courts received 2076 AWOL cases during the first half of the year, which is twice as many as during the entire previous year. By June, the courts were already passing 100 sentences for this crime a week, while most of the condemned are now not contract soldiers as before but the mobilized. The most common punishment for going AWOL is still a suspended sentence, allowing the convicts back to the frontline after passing the sentence.

Meanwhile, the OVD-Info Independent human rights project has analyzed sentences in anti-war cases. 215 sentences are known as of Jul. 12, including 82 sentences to immediate imprisonment. Three cases were terminated. The average prison term has increased from 37 months in 2022 to 81 months in 2023. The Criminal Code clauses enforced against anti-war activists have also changed.


In Blagoveshchensk, a charity concert will be held, and the funds raised during the event will be spent on "items for our soldiers." Among the planned purchases are body bags and garbage bags. Clothing and medication will be procured for living soldiers. After the Sota media outlet published this news, the portal removed the information about body bags from the concert announcement.


Civil defense classes will be introduced in kindergartens, schools, and universities in the Belgorod region. Besides, starting from Sept. 1, school students will be taking a course of basic military training, and Belgorod State University has already prepared classrooms for military drill training.

A preschool teacher from Voronezh shared how children and educators react to military-themed Z-events, how they perceive Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and how the children await the return of their fathers who are participating in the invasion.

The Vedomosti media outlet has reviewed the new unified school textbook on the history of Russia and described how the chapter on the war in Ukraine is presented. According to the textbook, the reasons for the invasion are Ukraine's alleged desire to join NATO and obtain nuclear weapons. The paragraphs about Ukraine mention the persecution of "any dissent" in the country.


Shortly after Yevgeny Prigozhin’s [owner of the Wagner Group] rebellion, surveys among medical staff began in order to check their attitudes towards the war and Putin. Those who answered "incorrectly" were promised to be monitored and made to change their mind. However, after this information was made public and spread in the media, the surveys were stopped.

In Samara, a military hospital is being expanded. A new medical building worth 1.7 billion rubles [$ 18.5 million] will have been constructed by the end of next year. Member of the State Duma Alexander Khinshtein announced that the new building is primarily intended for participants in the war in Ukraine.

The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet interviewed Leonid Sinegribov, a miraculously saved former prisoner of a German concentration camp and a supporter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, who organized an exhibition called "Donbas: Crimes Without Statute of Limitations." At the exhibition, portraits of military men who distinguished themselves participating in the "special military operation" are displayed alongside information about prisoners of fascist concentration camps. In addition, journalists spoke to his son Vadim, who lives in Kyiv.