The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] approved a bill to allow people with criminal records to enlist in the Russian Armed Forces. Convictions for some serious crimes would continue to preclude military service. Moreover, the right to enlist would be extended to men deemed only partially fit for military service, those not registered in the reserve, as well as residents of the occupied regions of Ukraine.
The bill would also increase the age limit for contract-based military service to 65 years (70 for senior officers). Thus, people would only be able to retire from service once they reach the age of 65, if they enlist after the new legislation comes into effect. For mobilized soldiers, the age limit remains unchanged.
In consecutive second and third readings, the State Duma also approved a bill allowing for the release from liability of mobilized and contract soldiers convicted of crimes of minor and moderate severity. Note that deputies amended the bill yesterday to exclude convictions of sexual crimes against minors, crimes against the state, terrorism and a host of other crimes from the scope of application of the new legislation.
The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] supported an amendment that grants privileges to participants of the "special military operation" when applying to universities. Heroes of Russia, participants of the "special military operation," and the children of war veterans will have the right to admission to bachelor's and specialist degree programs within a separate quota. Moreover, according to the proposed legislation, involuntary military service will be considered as an individual achievement when applying to universities and colleges.
According to the accompanying documents to the draft amendments to the Regulations on Military Conscription, the Unified Electronic Database of conscripts will be created by Oct. 1, 2023 (which typically marks the start of the autumn conscription campaign). It is worth noting that according to the previously published government resolution draft, the electronic database was planned to be created by Dec. 31, 2023.
Reporter from the Kemerovo region Andrey Novashov, convicted in February 2023 for allegedly spreading fake news, was invited to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense. According to the reporter, he received a call from the city administration on a number he had only shared with the investigating officers involved in his case. Novashov refused to join the Armed Forces, pointing out that he had no intention to die for Putin.
In Rostov-on-Don, a young man suffering from asthma, a condition severe enough to constitute grounds for exemption, is forced into conscription service. 25-year-old Maksim Yevdokimov was declared fully fit for military service despite being officially diagnosed with bronchial asthma. Maksim’s lawyers argue that the draft office deliberately downplays Maksim’s health problems, and there is evidence to suggest that there are many more of such cases across the country.
Head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin announced that a "school for war correspondents" was founded in the city of Novosibirsk. Prigozhin went on to say that the school would also offer training to those planning to join the local defense forces and those "preparing for mobilization."
The first Russian service member who destroyed a Leopard tank in Ukraine has been given a one million ruble ($11,842) reward, Russia's defense ministry announced. The reward was received by soldier Andrey Kravtsov from Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic]. In the video released by the ministry, Kravtsov appeared to be missing his right hand, although most of the footage was staged in a way that conceals his impairment. A grenade launcher who was fighting by Kravtsov’s side was killed, but an equal reward will be paid to his family. The reward, presented by a Novosibirsk senator Aleksandr Karelin, was provided by entrepreneurs through a certain private foundation named Zabota Sibiri [Care of Siberia]. Reporter Dmitry Kolezev points out that he failed to find any record of such a foundation in the Russian national registry of legal entities.
The lists of war casualties have been updated with the names of Aleksandr Minin and Ruslan Lyadov from the Perm region, Sergey Nikitin from the Leningrad region, and Vladislav Venetsky from the Volgograd region.
In Rostov, according to the Deputy Head of the City Administration, the graves of those who died in the war with Ukraine will be decorated in a uniform style. Allegedly, this request came from the relatives of the deceased. Municipal funeral enterprises will be responsible for maintaining the graves.
The body of a 20-year-old conscript soldier Vyacheslav A., who had escaped from his unit with an assault rifle two weeks ago, was found in a forest in the Bryansk region. It is presumed that he committed suicide, as the police discovered two suicide notes next to him along with the stolen rifle and ammunition.
The Astra Telegram channel has published a video from an illegal basement used to hold Russian military personnel who refused to participate in the war with Ukraine. It is claimed that the basement is located in the village of Zaitseve in the Luhansk region, and the footage was taken during winter. This detention camp for "refuseniks" was reportedly shut down last year after media attention, but it is now operational again.
The Tomsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced Private Maxim Repeyko to a fine of 120,000 rubles [$1430] for the offense of bribery. The soldier wanted to take leave during the New Year holidays and made a request to his commander, but it was denied. However, after some time, the commander, whose case is being handled separately, offered Repeyko leave in exchange for 60,000 rubles [$715], which the private accepted and handed over.
The VCHK-OGPU Telegram channel has published a document stating that since February 2023, a total of 325 military personnel have gone AWOL, specifically from the Airborne Forces. Out of those, 228 individuals have been found, while 97 are still wanted by authorities. The document also records 239 criminal offenses and 29 cases of military personnel deaths. The date of the document itself is not specified.
A mobilized man from Yekaterinburg was arrested trying to get a deferment from military service for health reasons. The soldier was sent to the Belgorod region in October 2022. After an injury and an unsuccessful operation, he was given a short leave. He did not want to go back to the war and applied to the court for a deferment for health reasons. He lost the trial and was arrested for his refusal to return to the combat zone.
The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs put Lieutenant Dmitry Mishov, who refused to participate in the war with Ukraine and left for Lithuania, on the federal wanted list. According to the file in the Ministry of Interior database, the serviceman is wanted under a certain criminal article.
The military court sentenced Tver activist Ivan Kudryashov to six years in prison for preparing to set fire to a military commissariat [enlistment office], SOTAvision media outlet reported. A prosecutor requested seven years. Kudryashov was detained last fall. According to investigators, after the beginning of the war, he tried to persuade his former fellow soldier to "anti-war actions." The case was opened against him on the charge of preparation of an act of terror. Read more about Kudryashov's case in the Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] article.
Aleksandr Kraychik, who was born in Solikamsk and lived in Moscow, has been sent to a detention center in Perm on treason charges. He has been prosecuted since April for donating €50 to a Ukrainian charity.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) has reported the arrest of a Ukrainian citizen suspected of espionage in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria [Russia’s constituent republic]. The agency claims that the 44-year-old man was gathering military intelligence on an assignment from the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU]. Meanwhile in Mordovia [Russia’s constituent republic], a Ukrainian-born woman has been arrested on suspicion of shadowing the FSB and military facilities in the region. A treason case has been initiated against the woman.
A resident of Nizhny Novgorod, who worked in the defense industry, has been sentenced to nine years in a maximum security colony for treason. According to the FSB, the man was going to transfer secret information to foreign intelligence agencies.
In Chelyabinsk, a 17-year-old has been sent to a detention center for two months on the charges of preparing for railway sabotage. The young man was reportedly preparing an act of sabotage and attracted law enforcement’s attention while shooting the potential targets.
In Tver, a group of Orthodox volunteers organized a master class on weaving camouflage nets. City residents, whose relatives are involved in the war in Ukraine, as well as school and university students, are participating in net production. The organizers have also announced an expansion of production: they have started sewing men’s underwear and balaclavas.
As part of the Svoikh ne brosayem [We don't abandon our own] campaign, students from the Chita Medical College are making bandaging materials for service members involved in the war in Ukraine. From the Krasnoyarsk region, nearly 2,000 first aid kits were sent to the occupied part of the Luhansk region.
Mayor of Yakutsk [capital of Russia’s constituent Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)] Evgeny Grigoriev has decided to dedicate the festival of abundance and celebration of life, Yhyаkh Tuymaada, to the war in Ukraine. This has outraged local residents who have reminded that last year the Mayor of the city effectively announced that the Osuokhai circle dance (one of the key rituals of the festival) was performed by women supporting a "special military operation," although it was actually an anti-war action.
The Northern (Arctic) Federal University in Arkhangelsk will admit children of the service members involved in the "special military operation" and residents of the Belgorod region under special quotas. Some of the applicants may start their education without entrance exams.
The Gosuslugi [State services] public services portal is sending invitations to the Youth Day festival. Within its frame, visitors are promised an opportunity to meet the participants of the war in Ukraine.
The Astra Telegram channel published a story about a graduate of a military academy. This year, graduates completed their studies ahead of schedule — such a decision was made to promptly send the new junior officers to the war, as the acute shortage of them has been felt for quite some time. Besides, it turned out that at some point, their six-year contracts were modified to ten-year ones. The graduates were immediately assigned to various regions, and many were dispatched to the front line.
The Spektr media outlet interviewed a doctor from the Krasnodar region who works with soldiers returning from the war. He said that the soldiers receive no psychological support and bandages to dress their wounds are collected from around local villages. The soldiers are registered with the draft office and sometimes face prolonged struggles to obtain discharge due to their injuries.
The Mediazona media outlet published an article on how Kyrgyzstan has ceased to be a safe place for Russian political emigrants and what those who are wanted by Russia need to remember.
The Vyorstka media outlet found out that the heads of Russian regions which suffered the most war-related casualties have not been publishing information about military deaths for several months. The heads of the Vologda region as well as Russia's constituent republics of Tuva and Buryatia have followed this approach. According to the article, the Federal authorities instructed regional governors not to worry the local residents and publish positive news about servicemen instead, such as assistance provided to them and their families, and military accomplishments.
The Armed Forces of Russia still have no system for testing for PTSD. As the Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We can explain] Telegram channel points out, Russia is facing an increase in violent crimes for the first time in 20 years. The most affected regions are those close to the frontlines or with a high number of mobilized soldiers: in 2022, the Belgorod region saw a twofold increase in murders and attempted murders compared to 2021 (from 52 to 102), the Kursk region experienced a 33% rise (from 58 to 89), and in Buryatia, the number increased by 24%.