The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has developed a draft resolution "On the practice of court hearings of criminal cases pertaining to offenses against military service" based on the judicial practice of 2010-2022. In the draft resolution, the court clarified the specifics of qualified criminal offenses against military service. At present, the draft has not been published; excerpts from the draft were presented by TASS [Russian news agency] and RAPSI [Russian Agency of Legal and Judicial Information]. It is expected that the final document will be amended.
In particular, the Supreme Court has clarified when a soldier would not be subject to punishment for carrying out a criminal order, i.e., if a serviceman did not realize the illegality of the order or instruction he carried out, then he is not subject to criminal liability, and the commander who issued such an order should be held liable as the perpetrator of the corresponding crime.
In addition, the Supreme Court had clarified that in a case when a soldier is capable of continuing to carry out his combat duties, yet he (or she) chooses to surrender, then this would be considered a criminal offense against military service and punishable by 10 years in prison. The court cites the military service regulations, which state that a serviceman, "even while separated from his military unit and in а total encirclement, must resolute resistance to the enemy, avoiding capture." Russian lawyer and human rights activist Pavel Chikov has commented on the provisions of the Plenum of the Supreme Court’s draft resolution.
The Ministry of Defense is accelerating the preparation of short-term officer courses for contract soldiers. This follows from the Russian government's decree "On changing the norms of food provision for military personnel." Meanwhile, the State Duma has resumed the live broadcast of its meetings. The broadcasts stopped appearing on the internet in the autumn because the deputies were mainly discussing the war.
Information continues to come in from different regions of Russia about the distribution of draft notices. Thus, draft notices from the enlistment office started to arrive to the residents of the Altai region [federal subject of Russia]. One of them is at the disposal of the Altapress media outlet. The draft notice says that a citizen must appear "for military training." Sources of the publication claim that draft notices are primarily given to graduates of the military department of the Altai State Technical University under the age of 30.
The draft notices are being distributed in Tyumen demanding people to appear for "verification training." The regional enlistment office said literally the following, "You should have come for military training. However, it has already finished, therefore there is no need to come. You are late." It is reported that the training would end on Mar. 22.
Draft notices for "military service register data check-up" are being sent out by the enlistment offices of Karelia [Russia’s constituent republic]. In Yekaterinburg, draft notices are arriving to 16-year-old boys for registration with the military. The head of enlistment offices of two districts of the Krasnodar Krai [federal subject of Russia] linked the issuance of draft notices with the registration data check-up. He also called the information about the second wave of mobilization a "fake."
It is reported that in Moscow, a reservist woman, a mother of a one-year-old child on maternity leave, was summoned for a military registration data check-up. Notably, it happened in a polyclinic where she was seeking medical attention.
Draft notices are also being sent to St. Petersburg residents. Officials, headed by the governor of the city Alexander Beglov, call these activities "routine." Meanwhile, the district administrations are preparing to persuade men to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense.
In Russia, recruitment campaigns have intensified with the aim of enlisting men for contract-based military service. Since the beginning of the week, promotional materials have been published on the public pages of cities, towns, registry offices, libraries, and children's sports schools. Contract soldiers are offered high salaries and social benefits. In the Chelyabinsk region, the authorities began to invite people to serve under a contract. Contract military service is also advertised on the official Telegram channel of Pyatigorsk School №16. The publication tells about the conditions and benefits for those willing to sign a contract with the Russian Armed Forces.
Mobilized soldiers continue to be killed in the war. Among the casualties are Vitaly Tatarkanovich from North Ossetia, Aleksandr Maltsev from the Kirov region, Dmitry Akimov from the Kaluga region, Aleksey Yapryntsev from the Perm region, Dmitry Grabin and Sergey Borisov from the Yaroslavl region. In Vladivostok, due to numerous funeral ceremonies of soldiers at the local cemetery, a queue of hearses has formed.
Mobilized soldiers are killed not only at the front. According to the Astra Telegram channel, in the Kursk region, a 47-year-old mobilized soldier shot his fellow soldier Nikolay Savin in the head. According to the investigation, while changing guard, he allegedly accidentally fired a shot from an assault rifle, hitting Savin in the head.
Bashkortostan [Russia’s constituent republic] leads in the number of dead soldiers among the Volga regions. According to data from the Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet, more than 500 natives of the republic have already been killed in the war in Ukraine. Wives of mobilized soldiers from Bashkortostan say that the republic's authorities do not care about the soldiers. Women who disagree with sending men to the front visit the Ministry of Defense and the prosecutor's office and write complaints and statements that are ignored by the republican authorities.
Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, an independent Russian investigative media outlet] spoke to a volunteer who enlisted in Tatarstan's Alga volunteer battalion in July last year. The man said that his unit fought on the right bank of the Dnipro. When the contract ended, the volunteer, along with several fellow soldiers, wrote a report for dismissal. The brigade commander did not sign the documents, and after that, the soldiers handed over their weapons and went home without permission. Now they are to be charged with desertion.
The Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg questioned the authenticity of a video showing mobilized soldiers of the 138th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, who complain that commanders from the "DPR" send soldiers "to slaughter."
Aleksandr Kukushkin mobilized from the Primorsky region, who came under fire and received a shell shock, is about to be sent to the front again. At the same time, psychologists from the military unit found that the man had signs of psychosis, an average level of suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep problems, and many other consequences of being in a combat zone. The doctor directly recommended that the mobilized man be sent for rehabilitation; however, in the hospital where the man ended up after that, he was considered completely healthy, and A category of fitness for military service was put in his military ID.
The Lyudi Baykala [People of Baikal] media outlet managed to find acquaintances of mobilized soldier Yegor Svitnev from the Irkutsk region, who was captured on Mar. 15 in the territory of the Donetsk region.
Wives and mothers of servicemen in the Orenburg, Samara, and Ulyanovsk regions massively complain about the "mess in military documents." Reportedly, some of them have stamps of “People’s Militia of the LPR,” or “DPR” put on their military IDs; however, those have not existed since Jan. 1, 2023, since these formations became part of the RuAF. Meanwhile, in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region [federal subject of Russia], a volunteer soldier who returned from the war cannot receive a certificate of a participant in combat activities: now the military prosecutor's office is investigating his case.
The Vladimir garrison military court received two criminal cases initiated under the article on absence without official leave (AWOL). Earlier, this court had already sentenced three mobilized soldiers who had fled from military units to various terms of punishment.
In the Pskov region, the third case on leaving the place of service during the period of mobilization was submitted to the court (part 3.1 of Art. 337 of the Criminal Code of Russia). Roman Portnov faces up to 7 years in prison. Earlier, a similar case was initiated against another resident of the region, Dmitry Gusev.
In Moscow, Rosgvardia [National Guard of Russia] servicemen went to an urgent call because of men in black clothes with an “assault rifle.” Upon arrival, the servicemen found out that a bottle of cognac in the form of a weapon, which the men drank on the playground, was taken for an assault rifle.
Businessmen and the self-employed of Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic], who regularly donate money to the Russian Army, will receive financial aid from the state. The decision was taken by the Supervisory Board of the Guarantee Fund of the republic.
Russia is set out to raise the conscription age. The head of “Soldiers’ mothers of St. Petersburg,” the human rights organization, discussed with the Bumaga [Paper] online media outlet who will be affected by this age increase and how to protect oneself from conscription.
In Bodaibo town, Irkutsk region, the Children's House of Arts stage production donated all the money raised from ticket sales – 27 thousand rubles [approx. 320 euro] – to the aid fund for the mobilized. Meanwhile, in the village of Sylva, Perm region, schoolchildren made trench candles for the Russian soldiers.
In the courts, government officials started explaining delays in the completion of various social projects by the “special military operation.” Both civil and military offices in the Russian Federation have been requesting new extensions from the courts for unfulfilled obligations, using the “special military operation” as justification. Most often, deferral requests are made in the Zabaykalsky region. For example, the authorities have not been able to arrange cattle burial grounds in dozens of villages to combat anthrax for five years. It appears the Ministry of Defense has the most problems with infrastructure facilities, according to the court documents. Military officials are asking for deferments to avoid capital repairs of boilers and heating systems for years and not to install fire alarms.