mobilization briefs
March 27

Mobilization in Russia for March 25-26, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack

Alisher Kasimov, a Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, was remanded in custody until May 22 by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on charges of terrorism. Kasimov, the eighth suspect linked to the Crocus City Hall attack, is reported to have rented his apartment to the four perpetrators of the mass shooting. Kasimov admitted having rented out his apartment on the largest Russian classified advertisements website Avito, but denied having any knowledge regarding the intentions of his tenants. Kasimov’s mother, who claims her son’s innocence, told journalists he has three young children and worked as a cook in a cafe called "Halal" in Krasnogorsk just outside of Moscow.

The brother of Dilovar Islomov, the former owner of the car used by the gunmen to flee the scene, claimed to the Vyorstka media outlet that his brother was unaware of the planned massacre when selling the car to the terrorists. On Monday March 25, the court arrested the Islomov brothers and their father for their alleged involvement in the attack.

Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations reported having finished clearing debris at Crocus City Hall. According to the Investigative Committee, the attack had left 139 people dead and 182 injured. The Ministry of Emergency Situations has published a list of victims, currently containing 120 names. The list will be updated as the forensic investigation progresses.

Alexander Bortnikov, the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), acknowledged that the United States had warned Russia about a looming terror attack. According to his statement, the information was allegedly not confirmed.

Two sources familiar with the Moscow authorities have told Vyorstka that the city will conduct public inspections of residential buildings and other real estate objects following the terror attack at Crocus. The Moscow State Housing Inspection has alerted Zhilishchnik State Budgetary Institution [Moscow utility provider] employees that they need to prepare lists of buildings "with absolutely no problems." A second Vyorstka source added that this is not a sudden inspection.

Alexei Navalny’s Death

On the 40th day following Alexei Navalny's death, people gathered at the Borisovskoye Cemetery beside the grave of the opposition leader to honor his memory. Among those present were the mothers of Alexei Navalny and Yulia Navalnaya. A tribute video titled "In Memory of Alexei Navalny" was also released by a collective of opposition musicians. Meanwhile, the Govorit NeMoskva [NonMoscow Is Speaking] Telegram channel maintains a map commemorating Navalny, marking points he visited as part of his political and investigative endeavors. The list already includes over 35 cities.

Sergey Mazanov, a leading anchor on the Volgograd 1 TV channel, broadcasted the names of individuals who had laid flowers in memory of Navalny at the monument to victims of political repression in the city. He also displayed their photographs and social media links and disclosed their places of employment. Mazanov stated this is "not the full list" and the "investigation is still ongoing." He mentioned that key partners in the investigation included the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Volgograd region and a foundation supporting the "special military operation." The information shared by Mazanov was likely obtained from law enforcement.

Authorities and Legislation

In the wake of the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack, members of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] have been discussing potentially lifting the moratorium on the death penalty. Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma, tasked the formation of a working group on the issue. The Constitutional Court refrained from commenting, stating that "the issue might become a subject for consideration by the court." Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] summarized the viewpoints expressed by State Duma members regarding the moratorium. The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel surveyed experts on constitutional law about the prospects of lifting the moratorium. According to them, constitutional amendments would not be required; a decision by the Constitutional Court would suffice. This viewpoint is also shared by experts interviewed by the Vyorstka media outlet, who perceive the reinstatement of the death penalty as a political decision rather than a legal one.

Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia's Commissioner for Human Rights, came out with a statement stressing the inadmissibility of using torture on detainees and suspects.

A group of lawmakers headed by Yelena Yampolskaya, Chair of the Committee for Culture, introduced a bill, which seeks to limit access in public libraries to books written by "foreign agents."

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu dismissed the possibility of further mobilization to create a "sanitary zone" near the borders of the Belgorod region as "complete nonsense." Earlier, Vyorstka, citing sources, reported on authorities' plans to recruit 300,000 people for the purpose of encircling the city of Kharkiv.

At least 11 residents of the Ulyunsky rural settlement in Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic] received draft notices for annual military training. The district draft office confirmed the issuance of the notices. The training will take place at a military unit in the city of Ulan-Ude for a period of 10 to 15 days.

The city administration of Ulan-Ude will hold a meeting for private company executives regarding the recruitment of contract soldiers. The announcement of the meeting, along with the corresponding directive, has been published by the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet. The meeting itself is scheduled for March 27. Meanwhile, authorities in the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject] have tasked municipal mayors with finding participants in the "special military operation" for the upcoming autumn elections who are willing to run for seats in local councils. The number of war participants eligible to run for office is not limited.

Governor of the Irkutsk region Igor Kobzev announced an increase in the sign-up bonus for those willing to sign contracts, doubling it from 200,000 [$2,155] to 400,000 rubles [$4,310]. According to him, these will be the highest payouts in the Siberian Federal District.

Andrey Travnikov, the governor of the Novosibirsk region, has enacted a decree initiating the regular conscription campaign, with the conscription period set to begin on April 1 and end on July 15.

During a city government meeting, Marat Urmanov, the military commissar of Saint Petersburg, announced that the unified city database of those eligible for military service is at 97% completion. According to Urmanov, the register is expected to be operational by Oct. 1. It is currently being tested in four regions. However, Saint Petersburg is not among them. Consequently, the draft office is independently filling the database. Urmanov also stated that by July 15, the city intends to conscript 2,500 residents for the spring conscription campaign, marking the lowest draft numbers in nearly two decades.

A conscript shared with the Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel how the newly opened Unified Military Recruitment Center in Moscow operates. According to the man, despite arriving for merely a data check-up, he was unexpectedly sent to a medical evaluation board, and the data check-up itself resembled a conscription procedure. Furthermore, he noted that free movement within the building or exiting it was prohibited—navigation was only possible with special plastic cards.

In a recent interview with the Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet, female convicts from penal colony No. 2 in the Leningrad region shared insights into the recruitment process for the war with Ukraine. They discussed their reactions to the arrival of Ministry of Defense representatives, their motivations for agreeing to participate in the war, and the possibility of being deployed to the frontline in the near future.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Ivan Korolkov, Mikhail Semukhin, Kirill Reshetnikov and Mikhail Maingard from the Sverdlovsk region, as well as Denis Saveliev from Russia’s constituent Republic of Chuvashia.

The sister and mother of Vladimir Frolov, an illegally mobilized resident of the “DPR,” have recorded video addresses stating that he is being forcibly held in a basement and threatened with being sent to an assault. In October 2022, Frolov suffered a serious injury and was hospitalized. Despite this, his commanding officers insisted on his return to the frontline. There are indications that a case may have been initiated against him for going AWOL. Frolov’s relatives claim that he has a plethora of health issues that were disregarded during the mobilization process.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

Danil Kovtun, a 19-year-old conscript from the Stavropol region, has died in Crimea. According to his commanding officers, he shot himself. Shortly after being conscripted, Kovtun was deployed to serve in the village of Perevalne, where the 126th Coastal Defense Brigade is located. At some point, for no apparent reason, he allegedly shot himself in the neck or head. Kovtun's parents do not believe this version as their son's face remained intact after death. The prosecutor's office refused to initiate a criminal case. It is worth noting that over the past six months, this is at least the third conscript from the 126th Brigade whose death occurred in unclear circumstances.

The Pskov Garrison Military Court has registered a criminal case for the seduction of a minor, initiated against a military personnel. While details are scarce, it is known that the case involves a child under the age of 16. Further information regarding the case has not yet been disclosed.

An ex-mercenary of the Wagner Group, who murdered his partner and cut off her ear, has been placed in a pre-trial detention center. A murder case has been filed against him.

In Vladikavkaz, two former members of the Wagner Group are set to stand trial for a brawl with the police. They are accused of using violence that threatened the life and health of a law enforcement officer. On Feb. 28, a car with tinted windows and fake license plates, driven by one of the accused without a driver's license, was towed to an impound lot. Subsequently, the driver and his companion went to a police checkpoint and initiated a fight with the police. As a result of the altercation, one officer sustained moderate injuries, while another suffered minor injuries.

​The FSB has reported an attempted apprehension of Andrey Zhvakin, an alleged "supporter of the Russian Volunteer Corps," in Samara. During the operation, Zhvakin reportedly detonated a bomb, killing himself. According to the FSB, Zhvakin was planning to detonate a bomb at the "humanitarian aid reception point of a volunteer organization," purportedly under the orders of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). The intelligence service's report further alleges that Zhvakin was involved in "publicly discrediting the Russian Armed Forces" from 2022 to 2024.

A 21-year-old resident of the Samara region has been charged with terrorism following the arson attack on the museum dedicated to the "history of the special military operation" in Saratov in December 2023. Upon his arrest, the young man explained to the police that he committed the arson after receiving a call from scammers. He now faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years behind bars.

A 14-year-old sixth-grader and a 20-year-old young man have been detained for setting fire to a relay cabinet in Saint Petersburg. According to Fontanka [pro-Russian media outlet of the Leningrad region] and the SHOT Telegram channel, both individuals are facing charges of a terrorist attack. They have both been remanded in custody.

Children and Educational System

A school in Simferopol distributed questionnaires among 10th-graders to learn their attitudes towards the "special military operation" and their willingness to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense.