mobilization briefs
March 4

Mobilization in Russia for March 1-3, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Alexei Navalny’s Funeral

According to the independent crowd estimation project White Counter, as many as 16,500 citizens attended the funeral of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on March 1. 16,500 is the estimated number of people who walked from the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God "Assuage my Sorrows" in Moscow's Maryino district to the Borisovskoye Cemetery on that day. The calculation did not factor in the mourners who left the church after the service, nor those who came to the cemetery directly from the Borisovo metro station. With a margin of error estimated at 20–25 per cent, the number of participants cannot fall below 12,000–13,000, White Counter concludes. Meanwhile, Russian opposition channel TV Rain says, citing informed sources in the Moscow Mayor’s office, that at least 23,000 citizens came to pay their last respects to Navalny on March 1. This estimate was based on tabulations of commuting flows from Maryino to the neighboring North Orekhovo-Borisovo, the district where the cemetery is located. The evaluation involved comparing the average weekday commuting flows with the excess commuting flows observed on March 1. A reporter at the Astra Telegram channel spent six hours in the queue of mourners, interviewing those who came to bid farewell to the politician.

On the night following the funeral, makeshift memorials in Brateyevo, as well as memorials to Navalny at the Solovetsky Stone and the Wall of Grief monuments in Moscow, were destroyed. Flowers left in tribute to Navalny in other cities were also removed.

On the following day, thousands of mourners continued to bring flowers to the politician’s grave, queueing up outside the Borisovskoye Cemetery. Even after the cemetery was closed for the day, the visitors kept coming, throwing flowers over the fence. On Sunday, March 3, queues lined up once again outside the Borisovskoye Cemetery, while the pile of flowers left at Alexei Navalny’s gravesite continued to grow. According to TV Rain, by Sunday afternoon, the pile was almost two meters high, with an Orthodox cross at the head of the grave barely visible above the flowers. At 5:00 p.m. the cemetery closed again, but one hour later Navalny’s supporters were still seen gathering outside the entrance, throwing flowers over the wall and tying them to the fence.

According to updated data from the OVD-Info independent human rights project, on the day of Navalny's funeral at least 103 people were detained in 20 cities across the country. At least 5 of the detainees were kept overnight in police stations, one person was beaten, and three had their phones confiscated. Aleksandr Myslenkov, who was assaulted by the police near the Borisovskoye Cemetery, was later fined 50,000 rubles [$550] for "defamation of the Russian Army." Former cameraman of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation Pavel Zelensky, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2021 for extremism and testified against former colleagues, was arrested for 15 days. Zelensky was detained near a church in Borisovo and charged with minor hooliganism and disobeying the police. In Kazan, women who laid flowers at the memorial to victims of political repression were fined for participating in an unauthorized "worldwide public event" in memory of Navalny. In Yekaterinburg, Sergey Tiunov, who was detained while laying flowers, was charged with disobeying the police and held overnight at the police station. At least 11 detainees on March 1 were denied legal assistance. Additionally, according to OVD-Info, officers from the General Directorate for Countering Extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, known as "Center E," selectively interrogated detainees at the police station. Marina Lachinova from Saint Petersburg was charged with disobeying a police officer while laying flowers in tribute to Alexei Navalny on March 1 and arrested for two days. Five activists from Voronezh trying to travel by train to Navalny's funeral were arrested for five days on drug charges. Nine others were not allowed into Moscow but were eventually released without charges. Lawyers from the Pervy Otdel [Department One] human rights project] report that courts in at least four cities decided that Navalny’s name constitutes extremist insignia and used it as a basis for arrests of those who display the name on posters.

At Alexei Navalny's funeral, plainclothes law enforcement officers were filming the politician’s mourners with smartphones. The Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] Telegram channel claims to have identified one man captured in photographs of the event with two others, all wearing dark clothes. Vladimir Shcherbakov, 25, is reported to have received a stipend, according to leaks, from the Moscow University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2021, while his profile on the VKontakte social network indicates he attended a cadet school in Moscow during his youth. Previously, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] reported about provocateurs who were shouting calls to head towards the Kremlin, rather than to the cemetery.

Mental health counseling services have reported a surge in emergency aid requests. They have received 15 to 20 times more requests after Navalny’s death and funeral than usual. We encourage our readers, who are struggling to cope in times of crisis, to seek professional help. For example, they can reach out to Without Prejudice, a project providing free psychological assistance, using their chat bot.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

The Vyorstka media outlet reports that recruitment from penal colonies and pre-trial detention centers is not the only option for replenishing the Russian Armed Forces. Judges also use the article on extraordinary circumstances of the Criminal Procedure Code to allow convicts to leave for the front. They have been considering motions to that effect from recently convicted individuals since 2022. People sentenced to community service or restriction of freedom can request for their sentences to be suspended temporarily. Journalists have found more than a hundred petitions from individuals convicted of driving under the influence, failing to pay alimony or theft, where they plead with the court to let them go to war. However, some judges do not consider military service and participation in the war as mitigating factors and deny such motions.

The Novosibirsk City Hall has requested a list of individuals with unpaid housing and communal services bills from the municipal service management. The deadline for submission was March 1, and the purpose was to assist military commissariats [enlistment offices] in recruiting citizens for contract-based military service.

A resident of the Vladimir region applied for contract military service but changed his mind the following day after arriving at the military unit. Although the man's contract with the Ministry of Defense was not concluded, he was still enrolled in the personnel lists. Only after a lengthy investigation did the lawyers manage to have his enlistment recognized as unjustified by the prosecutor's office.

Authorities of the Tomsk region have offered a sign-up bonus of 600,000 rubles [$6,560] to local residents aged from 25 to 45 who sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense and deploy to Ukraine as part of the recently formed Vasyugan unit. The press service noted that candidates who are over the age of 45 will be evaluated on an individual basis.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Sergey Basov, Andrey Shekhovtsov and Yury Korchagin from the Belgorod region, Sergey Zmeyev and Andrey Lapp from the Sverdlovsk region, Roman Borzov, Artyom Shurupov and Aleksandr Zenchik from the Irkutsk region, Aleksey Zarubin, Aleksey Panasyuk and Aleksandr Anisimov from Russia's constituent Republic of Buryatia, as well as Dmitry Kryzhko from the Volgograd region.

Mobilized Pavel Parfyonov recorded a video address in which he complained that he was expelled from the military hospital in the city of Khabarovsk. He explained that he had requested hospitalization due to an exacerbation of eczema, but the doctor, citing a directive from the leadership of the Eastern Military District, refused to do so. Allegedly, after Parfyonov's video was posted, he was detained by military police officers.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

According to information from the Baza Telegram channel, a former Wagner Group mercenary has been arrested in the city of Kirov on suspicion of rape. The publication reports that on the night of Feb. 24, Efimov allegedly raped a 22-year-old woman in someone else's car, and after she managed to escape, he set the car on fire. Efimov was previously convicted of rape in 2013 and of murder in 2019. While in prison, he signed a contract with the Wagner Group and went to war. After his contract ended, he was granted a presidential pardon.

The court in Saransk has arrested former Wagner Group mercenary Yakov Paramonov for two months. He is accused of rape and sexual violence against a minor. According to investigators, on the evening of Feb. 27, Paramonov allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old schoolgirl at knifepoint. In 2017, Paramonov was sentenced to seven years in a maximum security penal colony for a series of robberies and one act of sexual violence. He likely joined the Wagner Group directly from prison.

Pro-government media reported an explosion near the power substation in Yekaterinburg on March 2. The substation supplies electricity to enterprises of the military-industrial complex. According to the Kremlin-aligned news outlet Mash, the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device.

Children and Educational System

A kindergarten in Mordovia organized a parade and singing contest among children. The main goal of the competition, held under the slogan "Life for the Motherland, honor to no one," was reported by local TV as "to help children grow up as patriots of their homeland."

At the Twelve Collegia building at Saint Petersburg State University, an exhibition on "the participation of students in the special military operation" was held to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.


Altai, Buryatia and Tyva [all Russia's constituent republics], where up to a third of the population lives below the poverty threshold, saw a record increase of up to 57.7% in money deposited in private bank accounts in 2023. Finnish institute BOFIT researcher Laura Solanko concluded that this increase is due to payments to participants in the war with Ukraine and death gratuity payments received by the families of the deceased. The 7x7—Gorizontalnaya Rossiya [Horizontal Russia] news outlet tells the story of life in the Altai Republic—a place where people earn their living either from tourism or from war.

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet sheds light on the conditions awaiting wounded soldiers in Russian hospitals. For instance, the hospital in Omsk faces a shortage of wheelchairs and crutches, while another hospital in Irkutsk lacks essential medications. Volunteers are forced to collect clothing for the wounded, while authorities eagerly dismiss calls for donations and videos of injured soldiers seeking assistance as fake.

The T-Invariant media outlet recounts how the Federal Security Service (FSB) launched the largest "scientists' case" in modern Russia, targeting the signatories of an anti-war letter across the country. Agents of the FSB regularly summoned those who signed the letter for questioning, threatening many scientists with criminal charges.

The Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] Telegram channel tells the story of Yevgenia Maiboroda, an elderly woman who was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for sharing two anti-war posts on the VKontakte social network.