mobilization briefs
April 1, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Mar. 30-31, 2023 CIT volunteer summary 

At a briefing on the spring conscription, Rear Admiral Vladimir Tsimlyansky, Head of the Main Organizational and Mobilization Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, said, "The plans of the General Staff do not include a second wave of mobilization. The current number of conscripts and people who volunteered to participate in the [special] operation is sufficient for fulfilling the objectives." Tsimlyansky added that all conscripts who had served their terms of military service would be dismissed from their duty in a timely manner.

In addition, Tsimlyansky announced that during the spring conscription campaign, for the first time, citizens would be notified electronically. In the absence of technical feasibility, the notification will be made by summons. Yuriy Shvytkin, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] Committee on Defense, stated that notification via Gosuslugi [State Services] state bureaucracy portal would be equated to certified personal delivery of summons. However, the chairman of this committee, Andrey Kartapolov, disagrees with him because, according to Russian law, notification of conscription via the Gosuslugi portal is not feasible. Viktor Bondarev, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, expressed the same opinion. Later Shvytkin would not confirm his original statement.

Legal experts have also commented on the decision to distribute summons electronically: at present, electronic notifications should not be considered [or equated to] summons that military commissariats [enlistment offices] distribute to Russian citizens. In fact, those can only be considered notifications, and each person has the right to decide whether to respond or ignore them. The Voenny Ombudsmen [Military Ombudsman] Telegram channel reminds us that the bill on postal summons and self-appearance in military commissariats has not been adopted, and the hearing has been postponed until July. Therefore, there are no changes in the procedure for notifying citizens of their obligation to report to military commissariats. At the same time, officials at several military commissariats in Saint Petersburg stated that they had not been briefed on any innovations pertaining to the electronic summons.

The Gosuslugi [State Services] portal has disabled the option that allowed users to delete their profile data. Users believe that this is related to the Ministry of Defense's decision to forcibly send digital summons to conscripts. The button for deleting one’s profile is gone on the website. The mobile app responds to deletion requests with a message that the “function is unavailable.” Technical support is telling users that deleting their accounts is only possible if a user submits a “personal request.” MinTsifry [Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media] explains that the decision to disable the account deletion function was made due to the "increased cases of personal account hacking." The ministry confirmed that the account can now only be deleted by visiting the Multifunctional Public Services Center in person.

The number of conscripts called up this spring will be the largest in the last seven years — Putin signed a decree calling 147,000 citizens up for statutory military service. A similar number of conscripts was called up back in 2016 (and before that in 2014 and 2015).

Reports keep coming in from the Russian regional administrations as they announce target numbers of men to be conscripted. In particular, in the Nizhny Novgorod region, over 3,000 young men will be called up for statutory military service this spring and summer.

According to the Crimean Human Rights Group, Russian authorities in annexed Crimea failed to meet their targets for the fall conscription campaign back in November–December 2022, having managed to draft only 1932 Crimean residents into the Russian armed forces.

As the spring conscription is fast approaching, several independent media outlets, such as Meduza and Mediazona, jointly with the human rights organization Memorial, offer useful legal advice and guidance on how to avoid being drafted. OVD-Info [independent human rights project] reports that lawyers from Memorial launched a Telegram bot titled “I’m not joining in!” that helps to quickly put together a claim and challenge the unlawful actions of the military commissariats.

An advertising campaign is underway this spring across Russia, seeking to recruit 400,000 contract soldiers to replenish its troops. In the Moscow region, an ad was spotted at the entrance to a shopping center. Similar advertisements were seen in Bashkortostan [Russia’s constituent republic] and in the city of Chelyabinsk. Multiple seemingly innocuous job adverts for “security guards” hosted by a popular online marketplace Avito turn out to have been placed by recruiters seeking men for contract-based military service. A reporter from the Vyorstka media outlet called the number listed in one of such ads only to find out that the recruiter was after men who would agree to sign a contract to serve in the “special military operation” area. The recruiter could not provide an explanation as to why the ad called for a “security guard.” In the city of Izhevsk, district authorities leverage housing management companies, urging them to cascade information on contract-based military service to citizens.

Military commissariats continue to summon men for military register data checks. A resident of Saint Petersburg was summoned to report on Apr. 3 for such a check.

A high number of draftees are being killed in the war. The list of the dead was supplemented by Igor Piskovskiy from the Pskov region, Ruslan Bezus from the Voronezh region, Ruslan Tenyakov, Aleksey Petrovskoy, and Evgeny Ryabkin from the Kursk region, Andrey Boguk, and Denis Serdyuk from the Arkhangelsk region, Sergey Nechayev from Krasnoyarsk, Yuri Esaulkov from the Sverdlovsk region. Fathers with many children exempted from the draft are also getting killed in the war: Aleksandr Lyakhovoy from the Krasnoyarsk region and Alexander Dubik from the Volgograd region.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, journalists from BBC News Russian and Mediazona, together with a team of volunteers, have confirmed that 18,731 Russian servicemen, including 1,672 draftees, were killed. During this week, 708 names were added to the list, including 55 mobilized servicemen.

The Govorit NeMoskva Telegram channel correspondent interviewed the relatives of missing-in-action servicemen from North Ossetia [Russia's constituent republic]. The outlet devoted an article to the problems of Ossetia's residents who are looking for relatives in the "special military operation" area who have stopped answering phones or were reportedly KIA. "Every day, devoured by the unknown, mothers, wives, brothers independently search for their loved ones, and then organize the transport of bodies. There is practically nowhere to wait for help — there is no single center in the republic that coordinates this process and where desperate people could turn for help," the outlet writes.

“People with disabilities returning from the “special military operation” are 27 years old on average,” said Ekaterina Priezzhayeva, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, during a meeting of the Regional Health Council [an advisory body to the Federation Council, upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia].

Mayor of Svirsk, Irkutsk region, Vladimir Ornoev, told the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet that two companies of the 1493rd Regiment "went back to the frontline." Earlier, mobilized men from the Irkutsk region serving with the regiment complained that they were “sent to the slaughter” without proper training and artillery support. Ornoev said that he learned about the situation in the regiment directly from the soldiers, as well as from the wives of the mobilized men. Earlier, the governor of the Irkutsk region, Igor Kobzev, had promised that the soldiers would be transferred to another military unit. But the soldiers who are in touch with the media outlet say their situation has not changed.

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet, publishes stories of mothers of conscript soldiers who have been transferred to the Russian-Ukrainian border. The women complain that their sons live in flooded trenches that they dig themselves; there are no dugouts, weapons, or regular supplies. At the requests of the mothers to quarter their sons in nearby settlements, the command is replying that "everything is fine in the unit." The women also note that they have purchased uniforms at their own expense, and the conscripts have to pool money to buy diesel fuel for generators.

A woman from the city of Novocheboksarsk pleaded for the return home of a mobilized father of three. Nikolai Maksimov was drafted in Sep. 2022 from Novocheboksarsk. He is now at the front, despite guidelines from the General Staff to the contrary.

Residents of the Vladimir region were appealing more frequently in 2022 to the regional Commissioner for Human Rights. Their concerns included unlawful recruitment under the draft and torture in penal colonies. The Commissioner could only resolve approximately 14% of all cases of human rights violations.

In the Novosibirsk region, 11 large families appealed to the Commissioner for Children's Rights, asking for draft deferrals for fathers of many children during the “partial” mobilization and extension of the right to draft deferral to more categories of people. The number of draft deferrals granted was not disclosed.

Servicemen from the 348th Motorized Rifle Regiment, mobilized from the city of Kostroma, came home for a 14-day leave. Reportedly, they will be able to choose from a variety of services available during their leave. The list is composed of medical, socio-psychological, and legal services, as well as entertainment programs for family recreation.

Two soldiers from the 503th Motorized Rifle Regiment have been detained on suspicion of selling weapons and ammunition. Service members Bashir Magometov and Georgiy Dreev are suspected of selling weapons and ammunition to a “buyer,” i.e., the transaction probably occurred during a sting operation by the security agencies. Criminal cases were brought against the soldiers under Article 222, part 6 of the Russian Criminal Code.

During the night of Mar. 30 in Crimea, a truck belonging to the Russian Armed Forces with an intoxicated draftee at the wheel crossed into the opposite lane and collided with a car carrying a Crimea policewoman and her minor children. The woman was taken to intensive care, and the children sustained fractures and bruises. The service member is under investigation.

The Leningrad region court considered an appeal to the preventive detention of Yegor Balazeykin, 16, suspected of attempted arson at a draft office, and upheld it. The young man’s stay at a pre-trial detention center has been extended through Apr. 27. On his part, Yegor sent a small letter from jail where he gave an account of how he felt in detention and partially explained the motives behind his action.

The Saint Petersburg Garrison Military Court issued 13 sentences to military servicemen who had gone AWOL from their units and refused to participate in combat in Ukraine. The sentences ranged from 1 to 5.5 years in a regular security penal colony.

In Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic], a former soldier of the Alga Volunteer Battalion, Airat Abdullin, filed a lawsuit to terminate his contract. After the expiration of the contract, he filed a letter of resignation, which was signed by the company commander and battalion commander. However, after handing over the weapons and completing all the necessary procedures, the serviceman learned that the brigade command refused to sign the report without explaining the reasons. Despite this, the soldier left the place of service and returned to Kazan.

Residents of the Zabaykalsky region who returned from the “special military operation” intend to hold a rally because of problems with payments. Volunteer fighters faced difficulties in receiving payments from the regional authorities. They agreed to meet with the First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Zabaykalsky region Andrey Kefer to solve the problem, otherwise, they are going to hold a rally. Kefer, in turn, promised to help deal with the problem during his meeting with the servicemen on Mar. 31.

The press service of the Krasnoyarsk garrison military court reported that they are considering a large number of lawsuits from residents of the region related to call up for military service during mobilization. According to the Prospekt Mira regional media outlet, 59 people have applied to the court since September, and 32 lawsuits were connected with the “partial” mobilization. One appeal was fully satisfied, and two more — partially.

According to the press service of Sberbank, the bank has canceled the commission on transfers for citizens called up for military service and taking part in the "special military operation."

A woman from Yekaterinburg purchased a "hefty box of canned fish and condensed milk" for soldiers after reading the Telegram channel of State Duma member Maksim Ivanov.

A large shipment of aid went from Krasnoyarsk on four vehicles to the “special military operation” area. In Gorno-Altaysk, wives and mothers of military personnel collected 5 tons of aid for soldiers, most of which was intended for a field hospital. The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Berdyuzhye village, Tyumen region, raised money from locals to buy a drone for soldiers. In the Krutoy Log rural locality in the Kursk region, another firewood collection campaign for the “special military operation” participants will take place.

The Perm Diocese denied information about the distribution of "bulletproof candles" to Perm mobilized soldiers.

Young Army [pro-Kremlin youth organization] members from the city of Rzhaksa, Tambov region, sing a patriotic song with the lyrics, "Above us are only the skies, our commander-in-chief and the president." At the Novosibirsk University of Architecture and Design, college students were forced to participate in a master class on weaving camouflage nets. Participants in the Russian market for commercial drones have proposed including theoretical disciplines and practical training on UAVs in the school curriculum and have approached the Ministry of Transport with this initiative. The ministry's reaction is not yet known.