Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill criminalizing the "discrediting" of mercenaries as well as spreading "fake" news about them.
Federal authorities assigned regional administrations to recruit more volunteers for the war with Ukraine. The Sota Telegram channel received reports of this from two sources within the administration of a Russian region. Thus, reservists may be persuaded to enlist under a contract when they report to military commissariats [enlistment offices] for "registration data check-ups." Over the past few days, men have been summoned to military commissariats across the country.
Military commissariats of the Orenburg, Tula, and Rostov regions confirmed that men are being summoned for military registration data check-ups. Earlier, the military commissariat of the Rostov region stated that they do not plan to summon masses of men by mailout.
Military commissar of the Kurgan region Airat Zaripov gave an interview to local journalists, in which he spoke about draftees, the work of military commissariats, and the spring conscription campaign.
In Moscow, military commissariats request employers to provide lists of male employees under the age of 27 who are liable for military duty while not in reserve.
Beginning Monday, Mar. 20, mass agitation in the Moscow region will call men to enlist under a contract. The Baza media outlet reports that the deputy chairman of the Moscow regional government, Maria Nagornaya held a meeting with the heads of regional districts on Mar. 17. She instructed officials to begin actively campaigning on Mar. 20.
From Mar. 20 to May 31, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University will be carrying out an employee data check-up as prescribed by the “Instruction on applying for an occupational deferment for citizens of the Russian Federation in reserve…”
At the Ryazan branch of the Moscow Polytechnic University, students were offered to fill out application forms for enlistment for contract-based military service into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The university assured that the forms were distributed to students for informational purposes only and “no one will be called up till graduation anyway.”
Several senior-year students from Rostov-on-Don reported having received identical promotional letters that emphasized the advantages and benefits one can gain through contract-based military service.
The Tomsk State University organized a meeting with representatives of the 12th Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Defense for its students. In the announcement of the event, the university claims that contract-based military service is “an effective social lift and an opportunity to expedite an application for Russian citizenship.” Attached to the announcement was a document detailing the advantages and benefits a contract member of service will be eligible for, compiled by the university’s internships and employment department and subtitled “NOT for participation in the special military operation.”
Warden of the Penza State University Aleksandr Gulyakov denied media allegations that the students would be receiving draft notices along with their diplomas at graduation. The warden claimed that such allegations “cause anxiety among our students, who have nothing to worry about. We have never planned any such thing and we never will.”
Russian mobilized soldiers recorded another appeal to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin; this time, these were residents of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. They told that they were sent to assault the fortified area near Avdiivka, and about 70% of the attackers were put out of action as a result: some of the servicemen were injured, and some were killed. According to the soldiers, they are again going to be sent to assault despite all these.
Workers — builders and carpenters — are actively sought in Crimea to strengthen trenches. The Vyorstka media outlet found more than 10 such ads on the Avito advertisements website. Also, there were advertisements for the sale of wooden shields to strengthen the trenches on Avito. Recall that a video of trenches being dug along Crimea’s beaches was published on the internet in early March.
The Military Ombudsman project explained why enlistment offices cannot conduct a medical examination of students who have draft deferrals due to studying at university. Provided a student is required to undergo an examination, he should contact the prosecutor's office with a complaint about the actions of the military commissariat employees. It can be done on his own or with the help of a person to whom a power of attorney is issued.
According to the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel’s sources, a fire erupted on the Zorinsky – Trofimovsky-2 railroad segment. Two relay cabinets burned down that were used to control the automatic semaphore system. Two Saratov region residents suspected of starting the fire were detained and confessed.
A fire was set to a relay cabinet in the Gorelovo district of Saint Petersburg. The engineer of a commuter train heading to Lomonosov saw the flame and informed the dispatcher on duty. Perpetrators made a failed attempt to open the cabinet, and the cabinet only burned on the outside, and the equipment inside remained intact. Train travel was not delayed. Police are searching for arsonists.
The Mediazona independent news outlet tells the story of the Zotov family from Yaroslavl (we wrote of this family in our recent summary). Within a month of each other, both the mother and the elder daughter became criminal suspects and are facing charges of extremism and terrorism. The daughter was arrested for an attempt to set fire to an administrational building where care packages for draftees were being collected. The mother is being prosecuted for her comments on the explosion on the Crimea bridge. Despite bullying and threats by the representatives of the authorities, the Zotovs appear to remain unyielding in their anti-war position.
Roskomnadzor [Russia's internet censorship agency] blocked the site of the Idite lesom [Go through the woods] project that helped people leave to avoid mobilization. The project was launched after the mobilization started in Russia in Sep. 2022 by the former director of the Nochlezhka [Shelter] charity fund for the homeless, Grigory Sverdlin. According to him, Idite lesom is a Telegram bot where volunteers “recommend safe routes to leave the country and hiding places in Russia out of reach of draft notices as well as help with funds to buy tickets.” The project has helped three thousand people so far.
The Ministry of Defense has published a video demonstrating the training of tank crews of the Central Military District at one of the training grounds of the rear zone of the "special military operation." The military is said to be learning to fight the latest tanks of Western countries. In Kazan, the first group of mobilized citizens took their first two weeks' leave. In the morning, the fighters, who arrived on four buses, were met by their relatives and friends near the Central Stadium.
The Red Wings airline has begun to make draft deferral certificates for employees and even hired a special manager for this. In the first wave of mobilization, draft notices were issued to only one Red Wings employee, who received 300,000 RUB [~3,900 USD] of compensation from the company and went to the war.
The dismissal from service of Pavel Kozachkov, a mobilized soldier from the Volgograd region, whose story we told in one of the previous summaries, is being delayed due to red tape. Another resident of the Volgograd region, Aleksey Meshchersky, was mobilized with a backdated cancellation of the deferral. He was tricked into visiting a draft office and was sent to the “special military operation” area.
A rapper from the Tyumen region has sent a GAZ-69 (model 1970) off-road vehicle to the front. Meanwhile, in the Altai Republic [Russia’s constituent republic], kindergarteners, together with their parents and teachers, made another batch of trench candles.