mobilization briefs
March 29

Mobilization in Russia for March 26-28, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Crocus City Hall Terrorist Attack

The Ministry of Emergency Situations has published a list of 143 names of victims killed in the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack. For its part, the Investigative Committee has received 143 reports of missing persons and identified 84 bodies so far, including 5 children aged between 9 and 16 years old. The Baza Telegram channel has reported that at least 95 individuals are still missing, including victims of the attack whose bodies have yet to be identified. Meanwhile, the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel has estimated that the number of missing people, not included in the list of 143 victims, is around 100. TASS [Russian state-owned news agency] has reported that the number of injured in the attack has risen to 360. Of these, 92 have been hospitalized, with 63 already discharged, while the remaining 205 received ambulatory care.

Senator Andrey Klishas has stated that the perpetrators of the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack could not be subject to capital punishment, even if the Constitutional Court were to lift the moratorium on the death penalty, stressing the Constitution requires a trial by jury for crimes punishable by death. However, the Russian Criminal Code has prohibited jury trials for acts of terror since 2008. Under current legislation, the death penalty can be considered for only five offenses: murder, attempts on the life of a state or public figure, attempts on the life of a judge or law enforcement officer and genocide. Jury trials are still provided for in these cases. Sources within the government informed the Vyorstka media outlet that the Kremlin is not seriously considering lifting the moratorium on the death penalty. Nevertheless, the discussion on this issue appears to be more serious than ever before.

BBC News Russian has reported that in the wake of the terrorist attack in Moscow, there appears to be a noticeable increase in checks on migrants. The number of rulings in Moscow courts regarding violations of entry regulations by foreign nationals has significantly risen following the attack on Crocus City Hall. Since the morning of March 25, 784 such cases have been registered, compared to a total of 1106 cases the previous week.

On March 27, a police raid targeting migrants took place at a Wildberries warehouse in Elektrostal, Moscow region. According to the Astra Telegram channel, the raid involved checking for residency permits, work permits and military IDs. At least 5,000 employees were scrutinized, and 38 individuals were detained for military service register data check-ups. Sources to the SHOT Telegram channel have disclosed that inspections will be conducted shortly at all major Wildberries warehouses and sorting centers in the Moscow region.

According to the Sirena Telegram channel, police reports from Kuzbass, Norilsk, Orenburg region and other regions reveal arrests and deportations of migrants. During a raid in Chelyabinsk, two migrants were issued draft notices by the military commissariat [enlistment office]. Meanwhile, in the wake of the terrorist attack, Andrey Nikitin, the governor of the Novgorod region, has implemented restrictions on migrants, prohibiting them from selling alcohol and cigarettes, as well as from driving buses and taxis. These restrictions, effective from March 26, mandate the dismissal of already employed migrants by June 26. Against this backdrop, a wave of xenophobia is rising in Russia. Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet] has reported new incidents of attacks on individuals with a "non-Slavic appearance," accompanied by a growing "degree of hatred" towards migrants.

Eva Merkacheva, a member of Russia's Presidential Human Rights Council, has stated that lawyers defending those accused of the terror attack at the Crocus venue are being pressured to withdraw from the case. She highlighted that if they refuse, they face threats of having their ears cut off. Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia's Commissioner for Human Rights, following her statements condemning the use of torture, has expressed relief that the terrorists were not lynched. In her view, this demonstrates that Russia is a "civilized and mature state."

The Investigative Committee has announced the detention of another suspect in the case of the terrorist attack at Crocus, whose identity has not been disclosed. According to the agency, he was involved in financing terrorists. Additionally, investigators purportedly claim to have obtained "confirmed data on the receipt of significant sums of money and cryptocurrency by the perpetrators of the terrorist attack from Ukraine, which were used in preparing the crime." Aminchon Islomov, the brother of the latest owner of the Renault vehicle used by the attackers at Crocus, is the only defendant in the case who has appealed his arrest. Before the hearing was closed, he managed to say in the presence of journalists that he did not consider himself guilty.

The court in Saint Petersburg has ruled to deport a Tajikistan citizen, Ahmad Fayzulokhonzoda, for violating migration legislation. According to the court, he was found in a chat room where recruiters were allegedly seeking perpetrators for the terrorist attack at Crocus. Additionally, inspections of Russian language learning centers for migrants have commenced in the city.

The Investigative Committee in Saint Petersburg has charged a 26-year-old Tajikistan citizen for posting a comment about the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall. The man is accused of publicly justifying terrorism and could face up to five years in prison. The exact content of the accused's post is unknown. Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] has reported on other cases of arrests for similar comments.

In another incident, in the Republic of Tuva [Russia’s federal subject], a 9-year-old girl was detained after suggesting to a stranger in a messenger app to "kill people for 500,000 rubles [$5,410]." She was taken to the police station with her parents, who claimed that she initiated the conversation "out of boredom" and found the contact in her older sister's phone. A protocol on improper child rearing was drawn up against the girl's mother.

According to an analysis by the Agentstvo [Agency] independent media outlet, three out of four emergency staircases of Crocus City Hall had their doors locked during the evacuation of people at the time of the terrorist attack. Based on video evidence and eye-witness accounts, Novaya Gazeta Europe [European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta] recreated the timeline of the terrorist attack and mapped the movements of the terrorists inside the concert hall.

Authorities and Legislation

According to the Ministry of Defense, a system of issuing electronic "special military operation" combat veteran certificates has been developed and is already operational in the Russian Federation.

The Russian government opposed the initiative to require producing military service registration documents during the process of registering one’s residence or receiving a driver’s license.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

The military commissar of Yakutsk has been fined 5,000 rubles [$54] for ignoring complaints made by the wife of a mobilized soldier who has been missing in action for over 30 days.

In Yekaterinburg, the police have launched a case against 19-year-old Ivan Bukin, the son of a mobilized soldier for laying flowers, interpreting his actions as participation in an unauthorized protest. Bukin's act of laying flowers on Feb. 10 was part of a nationwide initiative announced by the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement, comprising the wives of mobilized soldiers. In Yekaterinburg, approximately 20 people gathered at the memorial with flowers, including Bukin, who was subsequently detained along with four others. Upon learning that Bukin's father had been mobilized and is currently stationed at the frontline, law enforcement released him without a protocol, but later initiated a case against him.

In 2023, the Vladimir regional Committee of Soldiers' Mothers received over 70 complaints regarding illegal army enlistment, the local draft office’s disregard for "non-draft" diseases and incidents of hazing.

According to the Way Home Telegram channel, journalists covering the movement's actions are facing prosecution. This includes Antonina Favorskaya, whose residence was searched after she had served 10 days in a pre-trial detention center, and Xavier Colás, a journalist from Spain’s El Mundo, who was denied an extension of his visa and subsequently expelled from the country.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Vyorstka, in collaboration with Human Rights organization Shkola Prizyvnika [Conscript School], has published information on how conscripts can defend themselves against various methods used to coerce them into signing contracts with the Ministry of Defense for participation in war.

​​In Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan, draft offices employ "marketing ploys" to enlist men into military service. Banners have been displayed in both online and offline media outlets, promising a payment of 400,000 rubles [$4,320] upon joining the army before March 25. The campaign was announced on March 6 and later extended until April 1. Similar tactics have also been observed in the Moscow region.

In Saint Petersburg, 12 young men were handed draft notices immediately after obtaining Russian citizenship. Following the citizenship oath, they were promptly taken to the military commissariat.

Meduza reported on the changes brought about by the adoption of laws regulating exemption from criminal prosecution and punishment for war participants. The piece also lists 350 articles of the Criminal Code under which a conviction can be removed by serving on the frontline.

Aleksey Nikitin, a member of the Primorsky Partisans group notorious for attacking law enforcement officers in 2010, has left the Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject] to join the war, despite being sentenced to 23.5 years of imprisonment in 2018. By now, the convict has already been injured on the frontline and treated in a hospital. It is unknown whether he has returned home or is still at the forward positions. Previously, it was revealed that another member of the group, Aleksandr Kovtun, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison, left the colony as part of the Wagner Group to fight in the war, where he was killed.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Sergey Mantullo, Rif Davlyatbaev and Vladimir Gilev from the Sverdlovsk region, Sergey Gavrilenko, Denis Chelapko and Aleksey Rasputin from the Belgorod region, as well as Sergey Udalov from the Nizhny Novgorod region.

Over a hundred residents from the Kemerovo region have been captured or gone missing in action during the war, with 12 individuals having been returned from captivity and another 13 recognized as deceased.

Former inmates from the Kaluga region who joined the Storm-Z unit have lodged complaints to Putin about non-payment of salaries and compensations, as well as rejection of IDs for war veterans. According to the men, out of 230 people who went to the front together, only 38 survived. Another group of relatives of soldiers from the Storm-Z unit from the Sverdlovsk region has also recorded a video appeal to Putin. In it, the relatives said that government agencies informed them that Storm-Z does not have legal status. They also complained about the lack of a military medical board and non-payment of insurance.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In the annexed Crimea, former Wagner Group mercenary Vyacheslav Duplenko, who lost his leg in the war, stabbed an acquaintance during a feast because the acquaintance called Duplenko a disabled person. The court, in its verdict for Duplenko, who had been repeatedly convicted before, listed "impeccable service to the motherland" and the "immorality of the victim's behavior" as mitigating circumstances. The former mercenary was sentenced to five and a half years in a penal colony for causing grievous bodily harm resulting in death (the maximum punishment for this article is 15 years in prison). In total, as estimated by the Mozhem Ob’yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel, the returned "heroes of the special military operation" have murdered at least 58 people on Russian soil, often exhibiting exceptional cruelty.

The court in Krasnoyarsk sentenced Private Aleksandr Itpyekov to 15 years in a maximum-security penal colony for causing grievous bodily harm resulting in death. The court found that in October 2023, while intoxicated, Private Itpyekov beat an unknown disabled person to death. In addition, Itpyekov faced charges for two episodes of desertion.

In Saint Petersburg, Zamirbek Murzaev, a former mercenary of the Wagner Group, was detained on suspicion of raping a 45-year-old city female resident. According to Fontanka [pro-Russian media outlet of the Leningrad region], Murzaev had previously been sentenced to 18 years in a penal colony for rape and murder in 2018.In the fall of 2022, he was recruited into the Wagner Group.

In Surgut, a war participant left a grenade in the prosecutor's office after finishing a conversation with the prosecutor. The individual had sought assistance from law enforcement officers to receive payments. Presumably, the prosecutor was unable to resolve the issue for the Surgut resident. The grenade turned out to be a dummy.

A contract soldier from the Leningrad region succeeded in securing his dismissal from the Russian Armed Forces through legal action. Despite his medical condition and confirmed category of "limited fit for military service," the commanding officer prevented the processing of his dismissal documents and decided to send him to the combat zone. As a result, the court declared the commanding officer's inaction and attempts to send the soldier to the frontline illegal.

The Southern District Military Court has upheld a sentence of two and a half years in a penal settlement for Aydin Kakhramanov, who refused to participate in combat. Kakhramanov had previously served in the war in Ukraine and, after being injured, refused to return to the frontline.

Police have detained two teenagers, aged 15 and 16, on suspicion of attempting to set fire to relay cabinets on the Achinsk-1—Tarutino railroad section in the Krasnoyarsk region. According to law enforcement officers, one of the teenagers was offered 15,000 rubles [$160] via messenger for carrying out the arson attempt.

In February, law enforcement detained a resident of Yessentuki suspected by the Federal Security Service (FSB) of plotting to set fire to the Ministry of Defense building on behalf of the "Freedom of Russia Legion." A case has been initiated against him for attempted acts of terror and cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state.

In Komi [Russia’s constituent republic], Nikolay Farafonov, an administrator of a Telegram channel, has been sentenced to six years in a penal colony for posts about arson attacks on draft offices after the start of mobilization. He was found guilty in a criminal case for justifying terrorism.

The Basmanny District Court in Moscow has arrested Ilya Kovylkov from Samara, suspected in a case involving a terrorist attack committed in a group. Kovylkov allegedly provided instructions to a participant of two terrorist organizations, who was detained in early March on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack at Sheremetyevo Airport. In photos from the courtroom, signs of beating are visible on his face.

In the occupied Kherson region, Crimean Tatar Bilyal Abdurakhmanov, aged 66, has been detained by Russian law enforcement officers. They suspect him of participating in the "civil blockade" of Crimea and advocating for Crimea's return to Ukraine. A criminal case has been initiated against Abdurakhmanov for participating in an illegal armed group. He could face 8 to 15 years of imprisonment if convicted.

Former Rosgvardia [Russian National Guard] officer Maksim Arinushkin has been sentenced under the charge of treason for attempting to join the "Freedom of Russia Legion."

In Orenburg, individuals detained in connection with a sabotage case are reportedly being subjected to physical abuse in a pre-trial detention center, with threats also being made against their families, according to human rights advocates. In March, law enforcement officers detained three Orenburg residents—Maksim Polukarov, Yury Blednykh and Dmitry Dementyev—suspected of being involved in arson targeting a military facility. All three have been arrested on charges of committing an act of terror and sabotage by a group in conspiracy.

In the Sverdlovsk region, authorities have initiated a criminal case against the 53-year-old preacher Eduard Charov for justifying terrorism. Charov is known for his outspoken position against war and sheltering men at his home who refused to fight. Earlier, Charov faced two administrative cases, one for "discrediting the army" and another for "inciting hatred," resulting in fines. In 2024, Charov became a suspect in a criminal case after making an unsuccessful joke about setting fire to the draft office. His story has been covered in an article by Novaya Gazeta Kazakhstan.

Law enforcement officers in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region [Russia's federal subject] have reported detaining an individual suspected of being a "recruiter" for terrorist activities. The suspect allegedly sent messages to schoolchildren across the country, proposing to blow up shopping malls, train stations and airports. According to Mash [a Kremlin-aligned news outlet], the suspect is a 20-year-old resident of the village of Urengoy who collaborated with the "Legion of Freedom of Russia."


In the Primorsky region, war participants will receive a supplement of 30,000 rubles [$320] during the first year of work after returning from the frontline.

Deputies of the Legislative Assembly of the Chelyabinsk region passed a law stipulating that soldiers and volunteer fighters from the region who lost one or two legs during the war will receive compensation of 1.5 million rubles [$16,200], designated for the purchase of a car.