mobilization briefs
March 15

Mobilization in Russia for March 12-14, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

Vyacheslav Markhayev and Mikhail Matveyev, State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] members from the Communist Party, have proposed an amendment to the bill seeking to regulate the suspension of criminal investigations and release on probation for individuals who join the war with Ukraine. The proposed amendment calls for the exclusion of persons accused or convicted of sexual offenses from the bill's provisions. During the debates, Markhayev questioned whether it was just to let serious offenders go free in exchange for fighting in the war. In response, Andrey Kartapolov, Chairman of the Defense Committee and one of the bill’s authors, stated that there was “no need to fear” the return of convicts. He asserted that they are assigned to storm units, from which “only a small percentage” return. “What are we afraid of? And if [a convict] does fulfill his duty in the Armed Forces, he will return a different man,” argued Kartapolov, adding that the recidivism rate among convicts who came back from the war was “very, very small.”

The State Duma has approved a bill in the third reading to establish a Cossack mobilization reserve. If the bill is signed into law, all members of registered Cossack societies, such as the Don, Terek or Kuban hosts, would be required to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense and join the mobilization reserve. The heads of each Cossack military society would be responsible to ensure all members conclude such contracts. In case of a military threat, authorities can call up individuals serving in the mobilization reserve to perform specific combat assignments.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

In response to a query from wives and mothers of mobilized civilians regarding the maximum duration a soldier can be deployed on a single mission, the acting general director of the Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry claimed that there is no universally defined limit for military deployments that does not impact mental health, adding that the length of military service is determined by the law. Moreover, the official alleged that the health of military personnel is a responsibility of the command while recommending relatives to take a training course in spiritual and psychological support. To this end, he referred them to government-controlled organizations, such as the Defenders of the Fatherland Fund and the Committee of Families of Homeland Defenders. It should be noted that these organizations had been heavily criticized by military members and their families for failing to address their problems.

Maria Andreeva, one of the most public figures in the growing anti-mobilization movement Put Domoy [The Way Home], has been officially warned against participating in the “Noon against Putin” protest scheduled for March 17 at 12 p.m., an event deemed illegal by the authorities. Law enforcement followed Andreeva’s Telegram channel to reveal that she intended to participate in what they defined as “illegal behavior associated with extremist activities.” The warning refers to a video Andreeva reshared on Telegram, urging voters to go to polling stations midday on March 17 and deface the ballot. Despite the warning, Andreeva still intends to participate in the action.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Andrey Yegorov, a member of the Presidential election commission from the liberal Yabloko party, has been targeted by the draft office. Yegorov was contacted on the phone and required to report to the draft office in person to be handed the draft notice, however, he opted not to comply. Earlier, draft notices were hand-delivered to two other aspiring members of the district election committees, both associated with Yabloko. Worried about the increasing pressure on the opposition figures in the lead-up to the elections, Boris Vishnevsky, a member of the Saint Petersburg parliament, voiced his concerns to the Chair of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova.

Officials in the Moscow region have launched a pre-spring conscription information campaign. In Podolsk, for example, authorities have revealed that out of the town's residents, 720 individuals have evaded the draft, with 20 already under investigation. Those who refuse to serve are being reminded of potential criminal prosecution, fines, forced labor and other consequences.

Raids aimed at migrants and recently naturalized Russian citizens continue. As a result of such roundups in the Primorsky region and on the Kamchatka peninsula, law enforcement found over 40 migrants who had received Russian passports but failed to register with the military. Starting April 1, these men will be subject to the spring conscription campaign and may end up serving in the military. Reportedly, over 200 naturalized migrants were registered with the military during the fall 2023 conscription campaign. Out of them, over 80 were conscripted or signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense. Another significant raid in the town of Shchyolkovo in the Moscow region sent 110 men to a local draft office for military reserve registration. Civil charges for disregarding draft notices were brought against 11 of them.

The Unified Military Recruitment Center in Moscow, whose emergence was first reported by Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet], has begun serving military-eligible Muscovites. Gleb, a 24-year-old film director, was the first visitor to the center. According to him, conscripts are required to deposit their mobile phones upon entry and are provided with a plastic key to move around the building. When Gleb asked about the timeline for the introduction of electronic draft notices, the staff did not provide a specific date but indicated that a fine of 33,000 rubles [$330] would automatically be imposed on a citizen's Gosuslugi [public services portal] account if they missed their draft notice appointment.

According to Governor of the Ulyanovsk region Aleksey Russkikh, a new unit named the “Aleksandr Matrosov Howitzer Battalion is being formed in the region to join the war. The deputy governor has stated that recruitment is proceeding smoothly, with 50% of the required personnel already enlisted.

According to the Vazhnyye Istorii media outlet, the average regional sign-up bonus for individuals signing contracts with the Ministry of Defense has reached 225,000 rubles [$2,470] as of March. This means that a new contract soldier would receive a total of 420,000 rubles [$4,610], including the federal payment of 195,000 rubles [$2,140]. In a bid to attract new recruits for the war, authorities in various Russian regions have been steadily increasing the sign-up bonus. Since the beginning of March, the bonus has already risen in five regions, with an average annual increase of 150%. While just a year ago, the largest payments offered by five regions were 300,000 rubles [$3,290], the Moscow region now leads with an offer of 805,000 rubles [$8,840].

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Nikolay Vargantsev from the Volgograd region, Aleksandr Trofimov, Klim Nikitin and Dmitry Belyakov from the Sverdlovsk region, Aleksandr Butorin from the Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject], Pyotr Konovalov from the Astrakhan region, Vladislav Radchenko from the Rostov region and Innokenty Masalyga from the Irkutsk region.

Maksim Danyushin, a resident of the "DPR", was kidnapped in the center of Donetsk and sent to the forward positions. In February 2022, Danyushin had volunteered to fight on the frontline and spent six months near Kherson before returning to Donetsk with other survivors. Despite attempts by local authorities to persuade him to sign a contract, he refused. On Feb. 7, "DPR" traffic police stopped Danyushin's car and detained him, claiming he was wanted for going AWOL, as reported by the Telegram channel "Mobilization DPR Live". Subsequently, Danyushin informed his relatives that he had been taken towards Vuhledar, where he spent an entire month in the trenches, during which they allegedly pressured him to sign a contract. On March 7, he was sent into assault, and there has been no contact with him since. Danyushin's  family is demanding his safe return home.

Aleksandr, originally from the Rostov region and serving time for theft, signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense in the spring of 2023 and joined the Storm-Z unit to participate in the war effort. In early July, he sustained serious injuries, and in August, he was wounded again. Upon the completion of his contract, Aleksandr did not receive his salary, compensation for his injuries, or a "clean" reputation.

Another participant in the war with Ukraine, 41-year-old Nikolay Rudykh from Chita, has also complained about the lack of payments promised by the state. Rudykh served in the 123rd Motorized Rifle Brigade. In November 2023, he sustained his first injury. After spending three weeks in the hospital, he was redeployed to the frontline, where he sustained another injury. Despite submitting all required documents to his unit, Rudykh has received no compensation for any of his injuries.

Relatives of ex-convicts, mobilized soldiers and volunteer fighters serving in the Black Mamba unit, which operates under the 252nd Motorized Rifle Regiment, are complaining about the indifferent attitude of the commanding officers regarding soldiers who have been killed in action. Their bodies have not been evacuated from the battlefield for months. Consequently, relatives have been compelled to proactively reach out to the unit's commanding officer and appeal to authorities themselves to have their loved ones officially listed as missing in action.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

A court in Moscow has sentenced Sergeant Stanislav Ionkin to 20 years in prison for setting fire to a café in Kostroma, which resulted in the deaths of 13 people. After the verdict was announced, Ionkin's lawyer stated that his client intends to return to the war.

Military serviceman Vladimir Gavrish has been sentenced to five and a half years in a penal colony for two instances of going AWOL. The court determined that on May 31, 2023, Gavrish failed to return to his unit from leave. Subsequently, on June 15, military police officers located him and returned him to the military commandant's office. However, on Aug. 9, he once again fled his unit and returned home. He was subsequently located by police officers on Oct. 25.

The Southern District Military Court has upheld the sentence of contract soldier Ruslan Matveev for desertion and illegal possession of weapons. While in the occupied territory of the Donetsk region, Matveev took a discovered underbarrel grenade launcher and assault rifle and went home. He was apprehended by officers from the military commandant's office upon his return. The court has sentenced Matveev to seven years in a penal colony.

In Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic], a military court has sentenced Private Andrey Shulgin to eight years in a maximum security penal colony for going AWOL and for forging of a driver's license. According to the court, on June 17, 2022, Private Shulgin failed to report for duty. He was subsequently detained in August 2023.

Sergey Matveev, a resident of Pskov, has succeeded in having the refusal of alternative civilian service recognized as illegal. Matveev filed a lawsuit against the draft office that had denied him alternative civilian service. He stated in the lawsuit that he was raised in a religious family and regularly attends church. The court ruled in favor of Matveev, ordering the draft board to reconsider his request.

Searches and interrogations of artists continue in connection with the case of Pyotr Verzilov on charges of treason. On March 12, photographer Aleksandr Danilov from Saint Petersburg was taken for questioning. On the same day, law enforcement officers conducted a search at the studio of artist Anatoly Osmolovsky in Moscow. In Perm, Federal Security Service (FSB) officers searched the home of Nailya Allakhverdieva, who currently heads the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art (PERMM). Searches were also conducted in Voronezh at the residences of artists Ivan Gorshkov and Yan Posadsky. Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] has compiled all the information available about the searches of contemporary artists that began on March 12. In total, more than 30 searches have been conducted across at least 7 cities. It is worth noting that many of those interrogated were not acquainted with Verzilov.

According to the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, two individuals have been arrested in Saratov on suspicion of arson on the railway. The individuals are identified as 24-year-old Aleksey Yakovlev, who has a history of multiple convictions and has been associated with the Wagner Group, and his friend, 23-year-old Andrey Butuzov. A criminal case has been initiated against the detainees under the charge of terrorism.

The Moscow City Court has dismissed the appeal against the arrest of 22-year-old student Ibragim Orudzhev, accused of "training for terrorism" for photographing the work schedule of a draft office. Orudzhev was detained in November 2023 and has been held in a pre-trial detention center ever since. He faces the possibility of life imprisonment.

The FSB has apprehended four individuals allegedly affiliated with the Saint Petersburg cell of the Russian Volunteer Corps. They are accused of plotting to poison Russian volunteer fighters from the Española Battalion with a highly toxic chemical substance allegedly provided to them by Ukrainian intelligence. Additionally, it is claimed that they were previously tasked with guiding Ukrainian drones to conduct reconnaissance missions over transport, fuel and energy complex facilities, and defense industry sites in Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region. Rinat Ilyin, Nikita Krasilnikov and Artyom Shcherbakov, all aged 18 to 20, have been sent to a pre-trial detention center until Apr. 27; no information has been disclosed yet regarding the fourth detainee. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has opened a criminal case on charges of terrorist activities.

In Kazan, the court has ordered the detention of 51-year-old Natalya Romanenko, the former head of the Ukrainian community of Khabarovsk, and her 63-year-old husband, Vladimir Fetisov, on charges of preparing an act of terror. According to investigators, the couple allegedly attempted to transport explosives with the intention of detonating a bridge over the Amur River. Fetisov was apprehended on March 5, and reportedly, 8.8 kg of explosives were discovered in his vehicle.

In the Kaluga region, 22-year-old Vladislav Sosedov, originally from the Krasnodar region, was detained on suspicion of attempting to commit an act of terror. According to law enforcement officers, Sosedov planned to blow up the offices of Gazprom Mezhregiongaz and the Bryanskenergo building. However, at the last moment, he refrained from setting the timer for the explosion out of fear of causing harm to nearby residents.

The body of Belarusian activist Nikolay Alexeyev, who was shot by FSB officers during his arrest on suspicion of preparing an act of terror in Karelia, is being withheld from his family.


Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] is set to allocate over 1.13 billion rubles [$12.41 million] from its budget in 2024 to support war participants and their families, along with providing assistance to the occupied Berdyansk district of the Zaporizhzhia region. This allocation represents a 1.6-fold increase compared to the previous year's budget.

Volunteers from Buryatia are collecting packages for wounded Russian soldiers.