The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] has adopted in the first reading two bills authorizing the recruitment of currently incarcerated men for the war against Ukraine. The first bill allows for the enrollment of convicts, defendants and suspects into contract military service. The draft law was only submitted to the State Duma yesterday. Additionally, another piece of legislation, also clearing its first reading, will allow military personnel, who sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense during times of mobilization or martial law, to be exempted from criminal liability.
Furthermore, the State Duma has approved another bill in its first reading, paving the way for the establishment of short-term contracts (up to a year) with the National Guard. In conjunction to this, there are plans to preemptively assign reservists to units, subdivisions and branches of the National Guard. This draft law also intends to remove the existing age limit for joining the police force.
A bill raising the upper limit of conscription age was passed in its first reading by the State Duma. From 2024, the maximum age limit for conscripts will be raised from 27 straight to 30, whereas the lower limit will be gradually raised from 18 to 21, increasing by one year each year from 2024 to 2026. Moreover, starting from Jan. 1, 2024, even men who are younger than the legal draft age will be able to sign up for military service voluntarily once they reach the legal age of majority [18 in Russia]. The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] project thoroughly examined the bill while the Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet met Oksana Paramonova of Soldiers' Mothers of Saint Petersburg to discuss the potential effects of this law and risks for anyone who might find themselves in a draft office.
An amendment [to the Federal Law “On Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation”] was adopted in its second reading by the State Duma. The amendment aims to simplify the acquisition of permanent residency for foreign citizens who sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense. According to the new legislation, foreigners who sign a contract during the war in Ukraine, as well as their families, will be entitled to permanent residency status in Russia straight away without needing to obtain a temporary residence permit.
On Jun. 14, the State Duma adopted amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, which provide for fines of up to 1,000 rubles [$12] for individuals and up to 2,000 rubles [$24] for office holders, or administrative arrests for a period of up to 30 days for citizens who violate the state of martial law. If the violation is committed by a driver, in addition to the fine, their car can be confiscated. The amendments were introduced during the second reading of a draft law completely unrelated to the state of martial law. According to Valeria Vetoshkina, a lawyer from the Pervy Otdel [First Department] human rights project, the formulation of what constitutes a "violation" of the state of martial law is vague, and there are risks of arbitrary interpretation by the authorities.
Furthermore, the State Duma passed a law prohibiting the change of legal gender markers in the first reading. Some State Duma members justified the need for such a law by claiming that, amid the mobilization, some individuals hurried to complete the legal formalization of gender transition.
The Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma, Andrey Kartapolov, has stated that much of what concerns the activities of private military companies (PMCs) during the war has already been regulated. According to the Duma member, it is necessary to "establish fundamental provisions." He clarified that there are no plans to legalize PMCs. According to him, the focus is on establishing "their legal status in accordance with the legislation." Kartapolov also commented on the bill exempting contract soldiers from criminal liability during mobilization, saying, "If a person wants to sacrifice their life for the Motherland, why shouldn't we give them that opportunity?"
The Voyennye Advokaty project has examined the issue of at what age a mobilized individual has the right to be discharged from service. As noted by legal experts, the legal regulation of conscription and military service during mobilization differs from the regulation in peacetime. When applying the grounds for discharge during mobilization based on age, it is necessary to take into account the attainment by military personnel of the maximum age for being in the reserve. Therefore, mobilized individuals have the right to demand to be discharged upon reaching 50 years old (from private to warrant officer), 60 years old (from lieutenant to captain), 65 years old (from major to colonel), and 70 years old for generals.
Also, the Voyennye Advokaty project analyzed the bill amending the Federal Law "On the Procedure for Departure from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation." According to it, conscripts are obliged to hand over their foreign passports only if the decision on their conscription is made. Leaving the country for conscripts using an internal passport after receiving a draft notice is also prohibited. As for invalidation of international passports, the law concerns only persons "having access to information of special importance or top secret information classified as state secret."
Members of the State Duma have proposed to ensure that educational programs are aligned with traditional values in the legislation on education.
Contract service is being advertised in the Moscow metro, while in the city of Yaroslavl, agitational "cubes" have been placed. Tents with advertisements were noticed at a festival in Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] in the village of Morgaushi, Kanash district. Additionally, in Chuvashia, invitations to join the Wagner Group are being put into mailboxes.
According to the Governor of the Yaroslavl region, Mikhail Yevrayev, volunteer fighters from the region are now entitled to a one-time payment of 210,000 rubles ($2,500) instead of 100,000 ($1,190).
The authorities of the Vladimir region have been recruiting foreign citizens to participate in the war with Ukraine. Governor Aleksandr Avdeyev promised that they will be able to obtain Russian citizenship, although amendments to Russian legislation regarding foreign nationals obtaining citizenship for participating in the war with Ukraine have only passed their second reading. BBC News Russian has published a story on how migrants from Central Asia end up fighting in the war in Ukraine. They are most often recruited into the Wagner Group from Russian prisons. In Ukraine, many of them are being killed, and their relatives spend months trying to repatriate their bodies.
Local policemen from the town of Chystiakove [formerly Torez] in the occupied part of the Donetsk region were deceitfully taken to a military range in Mariupol to be subsequently sent to war. The "Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Donetsk People’s Republic" claims that the policemen were sent to "an exercise in fighting against sabotage and reconnaissance groups."
The Ministry of Defense keeps reporting on contracts signed with volunteer units. It is stated that 10 "volunteer corps" unit commanders have signed contracts with the Ministry.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Vitaly Shirshov from the Tyumen region, Roman Smirnov from the Leningrad region, Hamza Fazılov from the Novosibirsk region, Anton Stepanov from Yakutia [Russia’s constituent republic], Sergey Nikonov from the Voronezh region, Aleksey Mordashev from the Orenburg region, and Vladimir Kulagin from the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region.
Members of the Ryazan municipal Duma [legislative assembly] proposed forbidding relatives to independently arrange memorials for soldiers killed in the war with Ukraine. According to the deputies, it is necessary to strive for "uniformity" and not scatter memorial plaques around. Meanwhile, journalists from the Dovod outlet [independent Russian media outlet], thanks to the Battle of mentalists show, have discovered new graves of soldiers from the Vladimir region who died in the war in Ukraine.
The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We can explain] Telegram channel has collected stories of mobilized soldiers who are not granted the leaves promised by the president. According to the wives of the mobilized, leaves are often given only to those who are close to the military leadership.
Around 20 women are trying to find their relatives, soldiers from the Yaik Battalion [volunteer unit] from Orenburg. The men stopped communicating after Feb. 20. Having given up hope of receiving a response from the state officials, the women turned to Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] for help.
A soldier from the Yaroslavl region was accused of desertion due to the loss of his personnel file during the shelling. While the volunteer fighter was receiving treatment in a hospital, the mobilization began, and all military contracts were automatically renewed. By the time he learned that he had to come to his unit, criminal prosecution had already been initiated against him. Now he faces up to 15 years in prison.
In Tyumen, a servicewoman was convicted of going AWOL. According to the court, Z. Dzhioyeva did not return to her unit from a leave of absence. The woman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of suspended imprisonment with a two-year probationary period.
Another show trial was held in a military unit in the Krasnoyarsk region. A contract serviceman was sentenced to five years in a penal colony under the article on going AWOL during mobilization. In September 2022, he went to the town of Zheleznogorsk to rest, and did not return to service.
In the city of Kurgan, a man has been criminally charged with illegally crossing the state border for going to Kazakhstan in violation of a bail. After the mobilization was announced, the man tried to cross the border by plane but he was not allowed to leave the country. His next attempt to reach Kazakhstan, this time by train, was successful. When he returned to Russia at a later date, a criminal case was brought against him, and he now faces up to two years behind bars.
Ivan Kudryashov, accused of conspiracy for setting a draft office on fire, has announced a hunger strike at the pre-trial detention facility in Tver. The man is trying to make the facility provide him with vegan meals and deliver him the packages that were sent to him.
According to the Bank of Russia, 72.4 billion rubles [$852 mln] were frozen under the credit holiday program for the participants in the war with Ukraine and their families.
On Jun. 12, the Irkutsk Drama Theater presented the Love and Pigeons play. All proceeds from the performance — 220,000 rubles — are planned to be spent on the purchase of equipment for Russian servicemen by the pro-government People's Front. Later it turned out that not all viewers had known in advance what their money would be spent on.
Governor of Primorsky region Oleg Kozhemyako announced the dispatch of another batch of aid to RuAF militarymen.
The Perm State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company spoke about schoolchildren assembling military drones in robotics clubs. The idea to involve schoolchildren in assembling quadcopters belongs to the Sinergiya [Synergy] local enterprise.
In Saratov, in the Sunday school of the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Saratov, the Pobedonosets [Victorious] military sports section was opened. Children are promised to be taught drill and bayonet fighting.
In the сombat area, preparations are underway for the elections for the governor of the Omsk region. To facilitate this process, mobile polling stations will be deployed on Sept. 9 and 10 in areas where military personnel are concentrated.
Journalists of the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet visited the village of Dzhida, Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic], and conducted an interview with a resident who lost at the war both her mobilized husband and son, who was recruited by the Wagner Group from a penal colony.
Former mayor of Chita Aleksandr Sapozhnikov will not return to the war. In November 2022, he announced his resignation and subsequently went to the combat area in December. In April 2023, Sapozhnikov returned to Chita for a two-week leave where he underwent a military medical examination and was declared unfit for military service. Following this, Sapozhnikov submitted his documents to participate in the primaries of the ruling United Russia party for the elections to the Legislative Assembly of the Zabaykalsky region.