mobilization briefs
March 22

Mobilization in Russia for March 19-21, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Russia’s "Presidential Election"

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) officially declared Vladimir Putin the winner of the 2024 presidential race. With 76.27 million votes allegedly counted in his favor, Putin received 87.28% of the ballots cast in the election. Communist candidate Nikolay Kharitonov placed second with 4.31% of the vote, followed by Vladislav Davankov of the Novye Luydy [New People] party and Leonid Slutsky of the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) at 3.85% and 3.20% respectively. Across Russia, the CEC claimed to have recorded an unprecedented voter turnout of 77.49%. Outside of Russia, Putin officially received 72% of the vote while Davankov came second with 17%, followed by Kharitonov (2.22%) and Slutsky (1.97%). Almost 7% of the ballots were spoiled. In total, over 383,000 Russians voted in the election abroad.

The CEC head Ella Pamfilova praised a "very clean and accurate" election campaign and brushed off the criticism of the Saint Petersburg election commission member Pavel Shapchits who revealed that the election results collated at the polling stations had not aligned with the data captured into GAS Vybory [Russian state-run automated election system]. All issues had been "dealt with thoroughly," Pamfilova reassured. She said the election authority received over 14,000 complaints during the vote, however, less than 500 of them reported alleged violations, while some 7,000 were fabricated abroad in order to disrupt the election. No complaint resulted in cancellation of election results at any polling station. 

Electoral Fraud and Oddities

A video depicting ballot stuffing allegedly at one of the polling stations in Saint Petersburg has surfaced online. The Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] Telegram channel speculated that the premises in the video resemble polling station No. 2 at School No. 260 on Lermontov Avenue. However, the Grazhdanskyi Nabliudatel [Civil Election Observer] project in Saint Petersburg claims it is polling station No. 5. Later, a second video from the same polling station emerged, showing the ballot box being overturned, presumably to conceal the evidence of ballot stuffing. Putin received 81.28% of the votes at this polling station, while at polling station No. 2 located in the same building, he received 74.85%. The City Election Commission has announced that it will investigate the operation of this polling station. Agentstvo.Novosti has analyzed photos of all staff members at polling station No. 5, identifying the violators as teachers Irina Minyakova and Irina Borovleva from School No. 260. Additionally, the SOTAvision online media outlet published videos showing election commission members at polling station No. 2309, located in School No. 22 in Krasnodar, discussing ballot stuffing and falsifications during the at-home voting process.

The voting results for individual polling stations on the CEC website changed by lunchtime on March 20, as noted by Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet]. According to the new data, Putin gained 4800 more votes, Slutsky gained 335 votes, Kharitonov lost 883 votes, and Davankov lost 408 votes. While these changes are minor in absolute numbers, they shed light on potential adjustments in the president's favor. The Perm 36.6 media outlet highlighted that in the final protocol of precinct election commission No. 3017 in Perm, Putin had 366 votes, whereas the CEC website showed 694 votes, indicating an addition of 328 votes to his count. Similarly, Slutsky and Kharitonov saw a slight increase, while Davankov had votes deducted. Specifically, Davankov lost 100 votes at his hometown polling station No. 536 in Smolensk.

In the Pskov region, the number of voters in the elections may have been inflated by as many as 20,000 individuals. Electoral summary tables indicate that the region has over 499,000 registered voters. However, according to Elena Mayatnikova, a member of the election commission, only 479,000 people in the area are eligible to vote.

Roman Udot, an electoral expert, highlighted discrepancies between Moscow's electronic voting system and traditional paper balloting in the case of votes for Davankov. According to the CEC, Davankov secured 4.44% of the vote in Moscow's electronic voting, contrasting with 11.27% in paper ballots. Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, received 89.1% in electronic votes and 76.79% with paper ballots. Udot believes Moscow's paper ballot results are the most trustworthy in the country, where Putin received the lowest percentage, and Davankov achieved his highest. Moreover, according to election researcher Maksim Gongalsky speaking to Agentstvo.Novosti, Davankov’s actual result from paper ballots in Moscow could be about 17%, while Putin's might be around 68%. His conclusions are based on an analysis of the results of the paper voting in Moscow by polling station. Gongalsky also found nearly no evidence of ballot stuffing in Moscow's presidential elections. Instead, according to the expert, workers at election commissions rewrote ballots in Putin's favor, particularly taking votes away from Davankov. Once cleansed of falsifications, the election results closely matched exit poll data from Boris Nadezhdin's team in Moscow: Putin at 67.9%, Davankov at 20.63%, Kharitonov at 3.84%, Slutsky at 1.7%, with spoiled ballots totaling 5.7%.

Olesya Vasilchenko, an attorney and an election commission member in Saint Petersburg, told of being physically beaten at a polling station. Vasilchenko suspects that she was assaulted because she was interfering with falsifying the election results at the polling station. She demands that a criminal case be brought under the articles on assault and on obstructing citizens from exercising their electoral rights. Vasilchenko’s election commission reported 93% of the vote going to Putin and 0.47% to Davankov.

The Sirena news outlet with the help of data that the computer programmer Ivan Shukshin collected from the GAS Vybory site [Russian official election information portal] found out that Putin received 100% of the vote at 390 polling stations across 50 Russian regions. Most of such polling stations were in the Kamchatka region (39), Murmansk region (38), and Sakhalin region (37). In most cases, crew members of ships currently at sea were the ones who voted in these polling stations. In Moscow, Putin received 100% of the vote at 21 polling stations. Almost all of them are located on the premises of state-owned medical institutions.

The 2024 presidential "elections" became the most falsified in the history of Russia. Vazhnyye Istorii analyzed the official data provided by the CEC on the March 15–17 poll and published the most conclusive evidence of election fraud happening on a large scale. Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet], whose journalists continued their analysis of the official data, noted that given the scale of election fraud, one cannot even estimate the number of votes stolen. Researchers were unable to identify any polling stations whose reports were free from statistical anomalies. What was considered a deviation in previous elections has now become the norm, with normality vanishing entirely.

Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] spoke with four independent observers about the indifference of colleagues, offers to jointly fabricate voting results, and copying figures from a computer. Novaya Gazeta Europe [European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta] talked to observers from Moscow, Krasnodar, and Nizhny Novgorod about police violence and ballot stuffing during the "elections." Meanwhile, Meduza published an analysis of violations related to the secrecy of the vote and other voter rights committed by the police and election commissions.


On March 17, during the "Noon Against Putin" protest at one of the polling stations in the Moscow region, a man was detained for putting an "incorrect" ballot in the box. Aleksandr Shokhirev from Yekaterinburg, detained in Bratsk for casting his vote incorrectly, was placed under administrative arrest until March 30. He was accused of "discrediting the Armed Forces'' and publicly displaying prohibited symbols. At the moment of his arrest, police officers assaulted him and threatened to cut off his finger. The Khoroshevsky court in Moscow fined a local for making inscriptions on ballot papers that discredited the Russian Army. Meanwhile, the Lyublinsky court sentenced a Moscow resident to 12 days of detention for allegedly "expressing himself rudely using obscene language" at a polling station, although the resident denied this had happened. At the same time, the Moscow City Court ruled to release Moscow observer Vera Indienko, who had previously been sentenced to 12 days of arrest for having an avatar in a white-and-blue sweater.

Svetlana Yusupova, a resident of Vyazniki, Vladimir region, was fined 5000 rubles [$54] for distributing flyers urging to "vote against all" and "mark all the boxes," charging her with illegal campaigning. In Saint Petersburg, independent municipal deputy Nikita Kirillov lost his mandate for calls to vote at noon. In Arkhangelsk, veterinarian Alyona Osotova was detained by law enforcement officers for distributing leaflets calling not to vote for Putin. She was forced to record a video "apologizing," after which she was released with three administrative protocols.

The woman who set off a firecracker at a polling station in Perm has shared details of how she fell victim to scammers. 64-year-old Elena had money withdrawn from her credit card with a promise that it would be returned if she completed a task.

Yury Ischenko, a 62-year-old resident of the Rostov region who spilled brilliant green on ballots at polling station No. 120 on March 15, was put into custody for two days. He was found guilty of petty hooliganism. However, according to a source within law enforcement, Ischenko may be facing substantial charges as immediately after his arrest, he declared that his actions were intentional and driven by his political beliefs.

As highlighted by Mediazona, the criminal case against 20-year-old Moscow resident Alina Nevmyanova, who poured paint into a ballot box on the first day of voting, will proceed under a special procedure. The investigation was completed in five days. Nevmyanova is accused of obstructing the work of election commissions, allegedly committed as part of a group conspiracy.

An administrative case has been launched against Galina Efimova, an elderly woman who ignited a smoke bomb at a polling station in Volgograd. She has been accused of disrupting the voting process and could be fined between 2000 and 5000 rubles [$22-$54].

Authorities and Legislation

The Federation Council [upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] has unanimously approved two related bills seeking to regulate the conditionsunder which mobilized and enlisted participants of the war against Ukraine can be exempted from criminal prosecution and punishment.

In the Belgorod region, the authorities of the Grayvoronsky urban district have urged residents of border settlements to leave the area amid shelling and fighting, which have been taking place on the border with Ukraine in recent days. The Yaroslavl region has reportedly agreed to take in evacuees from the border district. Moreover, Belgorod region authorities decided to evacuate around 9,000 minors to various regions of Russia. For instance, the Leningrad region expects to host 200 children. There are also plans to send school-age children to camps in the Kaluga, Penza and Stavropol regions.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu has announced plans to form two combined arms armies and 30 military formations, including 14 divisions and 16 brigades, by the end of the year.

The Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] Telegram channel wrote that on March 19, in Barnaul, individuals in military uniform visited one of the city’s enterprises and served draft notices to several workers, summoning them to the draft office to receive mobilization orders.

In Tyumen, Anton Teploukhov, a reserve officer and a children's hockey team coach, is going to war after being called up by the draft office. According to the publication 72.RU [Tyumen city online media outlet], Teploukhov was planned to be called up during the mobilization in the fall of 2022, but he was not drafted then because he had three children. Now, his oldest child has turned 16.

The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel believes that as of today, the electronic conscription cannot be carried out due to the lack of regulatory framework by the Russian government and the lack of the military registration database.

Another raid against former migrants who have acquired Russian citizenship took place in Omsk. "Draft dodgers" were handed draft notices. Another raid was conducted in Cheboksary, marked by harsh detentions.

In the Krasnoyarsk region, two corrective colonies and other sentence-serving institutions are going to be closed. According to regional human rights ombudsman Mark Denisov, this "optimization" is due to the recruitment of convicts for the war. He did not rule out the possibility that other penitentiary facilities might also be shut down but expressed confidence that they would need to be reopened after the war concludes.

According to Ilya Yashin, a Russian opposition politician currently in prison, the percentage of those convicted of going AWOL from a military unit is steadily increasing.

A French court has set a precedent by granting asylum to a Russian who fled the country after receiving a draft notice during mobilization. A university graduate who was enlisted in the reserves after receiving training in the military department at his university, had to legally challenge the French Office for the Protection of Refugees (OFPRA) after they refused his request. According to the man's lawyer, "officials could hardly believe that a person who had never served in the army and had not undergone the relevant training was subject to conscription and deployment to the frontline."

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Mikhail Shatalov from the Stavropol region, Andrey Sikhvardt from the Volgograd region, Ruslan Afanasyev and Vadim Shcherbakov from the Rostov region, Rail Yerguzhaev from the Astrakhan region, Kamaldin Amangulov from Russia’s constituent Republic of Dagestan, Denis Belevich, Sergey Talankin and Dmitry Smetanin from the Sverdlovsk region, Yevgeny Bykov from the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject], and Aleksey Korobko from the Krasnodar region.

Rustam Kerimbaev from the Vladimir region, previously convicted of going AWOL and later participating in the war in Ukraine, was released from captivity after an exchange on Jan. 3, 2024. The Dozhdus Tebya [Will Wait for You] pro-war Telegram channel claimed that he voluntarily surrendered himself as a captive.

Several former Wagner Group mercenaries complained to the Bloknot [Notepad] Stavropol media outlet because they could not receive social benefits for their injuries. According to them, the officials claimed that the regional law did not cover assistance to members of military volunteer formations. However, the law itself does mention "volunteer" formations.

In September 2022, approximately one hundred volunteer fighters from Russia’s least populated Nenets autonomous region were ceremoniously sent to the frontline. After one year, almost none of these individuals survived. The Sever.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet explored the reasons behind these men's decision to go to war. Meanwhile, the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet found out that one of the mobilized soldiers who was killed in the war, Pyotr Lyudvig, belonged to the small Golendra ethnic group. Currently, only about two thousand Golendra remain in the Irkutsk region.

The Vyorstka media outlet shared the story of Nikolay Kartashyov. He was one of the first soldiers who invaded Ukraine, took part in the capture of Bucha, later fled the frontline, and received a suspended sentence. Nevertheless, just a couple of months later, he found himself back on the frontline, where he was captured. In the spring of 2024, Ukrainian investigators accused Kartashyov of violating laws and customs of war and of cruel treatment of civilians, coupled with intentional murder. He did not make it onto the latest lists for exchange and currently faces life imprisonment.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The court in Magnitogorsk sentenced a mobilized sergeant to 10 years in a maximum security penal colony for intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm and assault on a superior during the mobilization period.

Three Russian soldiers from the Sokol special forces volunteer unit were charged with assaulting their commander and kidnapping a person who ultimately died. One of the defendants in the case is already deceased.

In the occupied village of Hornostaivka in the Kherson region, law enforcement officers have abducted and hidden three civilians for over four months. Twin brothers Ivan and Anton Shtep, as well as Denys Shum, were detained by the police without explanation in November 2023. Since then, the young men's relatives have received no information about their fate. Also in November 2023, 27-year-old Ruslan Rusnak was detained in Hornostaivka, who was murdered on the same day after hours of torture. The same police officers who detained the Shtep brothers and Shum confessed to the torture.

In the village of Nikologory in the Vladimir region, a 19-year-old "volunteer fighter" of the "special military operation" together with two teenagers have abducted and assaulted a 17-year-old acquaintance. Currently, a criminal case has been initiated against the soldier for the kidnapping of a minor committed in a group. According to local residents, the teenager was found in a serious condition in the trunk of a car.

In the city of Luhansk, a man has detonated an explosive device during his detention, killing himself and injuring five police officers with shrapnel wounds and concussions. The man was reportedly being pursued on suspicion of a grave crime.

According to the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, Dmitry Bugaev, a contract soldier who had served time for intentionally causing grievous bodily harm and was wounded in the head during the war, has now been sentenced to one year in a maximum security penal colony for beating up a policewoman. As mitigating circumstances, the court took into account his participation in the war and military awards.

The court in Chita sentenced a man, who had previously been pardoned and served in the combat zone, to two years of probation for theft. The soldier, under the influence of alcohol, saw that someone lost his phone and wallet in a fistfight, and took them. In 2011, the man's full namesake was sentenced for murder, car theft, and robbery but released on probation. In 2022, he was convicted for a knife attack.

The court in Borz, Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject], sentenced serviceman Yegor Bochkaryov to six and a half years for absence without leave. Investigators reported that on Sept. 25, 2023 he left his military unit, and on Dec. 3, voluntarily turned himself in at the commandant's office. The judge considered Bochkaryov's prior criminal record for going AWOL in March 2023 while determining his sentence.