mobilization briefs
March 5

Mobilization in Russia for March 3-4, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Alexei Navalny’s Funeral

Despite the busy schedules of the weekday, mourners continued to visit and lay flowers at Alexei Navalny's grave at the Borisovskoye Cemetery in Moscow on Monday, March 4. A Russian Orthodox priest recited a funeral prayer at the politician’s gravesite.

According to the independent human rights project OVD-Info, 113 people were arrested in 23 cities while paying tribute to Navalny on March 1 and in the days following his burial. 10 individuals were arrested before the ceremony, while 96 arrests were made during the funeral and seven more in the following days. In particular, police detained five minors and one reporter. Six detainees were kept in overnight custody, three citizens had their phones confiscated and one was beaten by police.

A young woman caught on camera chanting "Glory to the heroes" in Navalny’s funeral procession on March 1 was charged for displaying prohibited symbols and fined 1,500 rubles [$16]. As OVD-Info reports citing the woman’s lawyer, she was spotted by police in one of the videos that circulated on social media, resulting in her arrest on March 3 and an overnight stay in custody. The woman is planning to appeal the court’s decision.

Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] made a documentary called "A farewell to Alexei Navalny. Chronicling the funeral." Journalists accompanied mourners along the entire path of the funeral procession. The film presents conversations amongst the people who came to bid farewell to the late politician, their thoughts and moods.

The court in Salekhard left unheard the complaint by Aleksey Navalny’s mother against the lack of action by the investigators. The pre-investigation check of Navalny’s death is ongoing.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

Maria Andreeva, one of the leaders of the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement by the wives of the draftees, has voiced support for the "Noon Against Putin" action that asks that Russian citizens who do not support Vladimir Putin’s policies turn out en masse at the polling stations at exactly noon of March 17, the last day of the upcoming Russian presidential elections.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Legal experts indicate that, since the end of last year, draft offices in Saint Petersburg have frequently been denying military service deregistration requests submitted by Russians who left the country. These decisions are typically justified by the applicants’ lack of a foreign residence permit or citizenship. Judicial appeals have only made matters worse: the court’s denial in one case is now treated as a precedent. The Bumaga [Paper] and Fontanka media outlets have discussed the current situation with legal experts.

Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] reports that the Rotenberg brothers [Russian oligarchs and friends of Vladimir Putin] are turning the Española Battalion, a Russian military unit created by former soccer hooligans, into their own private army. According to the media outlet’s sources, Viktor Shendrik, head of the security service of the Russian Railways [Russian fully state-owned railway company] and a protégé of the Rotenbergs, is now sponsoring the armed group. Like most Russian volunteer units, the Española Battalion is structurally integrated into the Redut PMC controlled by the Ministry of Defense.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Yevgeny Ushakov, Aleksandr Zamaruev and Aleksey Buzunov from the Sverdlovsk region, Artur Tugutov, Stanislav Taksarov and Aleksey Dagbaev from Russia's constituent Republic of Buryatia, Roman Shendrik and Andrey Gazizov from the Irkutsk region, Vasily Krasnokutsky, Aleksandr Popov and Anton Sazonov from the Belgorod region, as well as Aleksey Safonov from the Omsk region.

Fighters of the Storm-Z unit have recorded a video message to Putin, in which they complain that medical personnel at the hospital in Samara, where they currently are, do not perform surgeries on them and instead send them back to the frontline for recovery. Additionally, the fighters accuse the authorities of paying them only half of the amount stipulated in their contracts and refusing to issue documents that confirm their injuries. This prevents them from receiving financial compensation.

After the death of a 34-year-old volunteer fighter, his parents received a certificate stating that he died in the "special military operation" zone due to a gunshot wound on Dec. 15, 2023. Later, they learned about the existence of a second certificate intended for the military commissariat [enlistment office], which stated that the man had committed suicide on Dec. 20. This cause of death makes the parents ineligible for a death gratuity payment. Moreover, when the mother opened the coffin, she discovered that her son had been severely beaten. Despite this, all departments have refused to conduct an investigation, initiate a criminal case, or even perform an examination.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Chita District Court has sentenced 42-year-old Tsyren-Dorzhi Tsyrenzhapov, a participant in the war in Ukraine, to 14 years in a maximum security penal colony for the murder of a 22-year-old woman. He was arrested in October 2023. In 2022, he was already sentenced to 14 years for another brutal murder: in 2019, he strangled 18-year-old Ekaterina Skvortsova, and then dismembered her body. Tsyrenzhapov served only three years, after which he joined the Wagner Group and was released six months later.

Nikita Sidorov, a participant in the war in Ukraine from Chelyabinsk, killed his ex-wife while intoxicated. Starting from Feb. 23, Sidorov and his friends celebrated the Defender of the Fatherland Day, drinking alcohol. When he tried to return home on the night of Feb. 25, his ex-wife Natalya, who was in the apartment with their three-year-old son, did not let him in. She locked herself inside and called the police. Meanwhile, Sidorov climbed into the apartment through the balcony and strangled her. When the police arrived, the woman was still calling for help, but when Ministry of Emergency Situations personnel arrived 45 minutes later and broke down the door, the woman was already dead. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has initiated an investigation into the actions of the police.

The Prosecutor General's Office has recognized the legal release of Vladislav Kanyus, the murderer of Vera Pekhteleva, who received a pardon after six months of service in the Storm-Z unit. The father of the murdered woman was informed by this department that "no violations of the law by military office holders were found in their actions."

Mikhail Gurulyov, the former head of a state company responsible for roads in the Zabaikalsky region [Russia’s federal subject], who was sentenced to six years for bribery in April 2023, has been released after participating in the war. In November 2021, Gurulyov was detained on suspicion of accepting a bribe of 1.3 million rubles ($14,200). Mikhail Gurulyov is the second cousin of State Duma member Andrey Gurulyov from the Zabaykalsky region.

At the end of February, a previously convicted participant in the war with Ukraine assaulted the organizer of a children's festival in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. According to the Sakhalin Against War project, the attacker's name is Zaur Abbasov. He is an MMA fighter, has a criminal record and participated in the war.

According to the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, company commander Igor Myasnikov was sentenced to four years of probation and fined 70,500 rubles [$770]. The officer was receiving a monthly bribe of 50,000 rubles [$550] from a mobilized soldier to keep him from sending to war with Ukraine, although he did not have the corresponding authority. Additionally, the military officer was found guilty of granting leaves of absence to subordinates in exchange for bribes.

According to the ASTRA and Baza Telegram channels, Nikolay Evseenko, a 21-year-old former participant in the war with Ukraine, has been detained in the Bryansk region on suspicion of setting fire to a railway relay cabinet. The incident took place on Feb. 25 between the Chernets and Polpinskaya stations. The man was allegedly identified by a burned jacket found nearby, from which a DNA sample was extracted. Evseenko has already confessed and stated he agreed to commit the arson for a reward of 40,000 rubles ($440). In December 2022, Evseenko was sentenced to 12 years in a penal colony for drug dealing and theft. Five months later, he signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense and was deployed to the frontline. In November, he was pardoned and returned home.

Polina Yevtushenko, a resident of Togliatti detained last year for anti-war posts on social networks and for publishing "instructions for surrender," has been formally charged—she may face up to twenty-two and a half years of imprisonment on six counts. Initially, Yevtushenko was accused of preparing to commit high treason—investigators claimed she encouraged a resident of Samara to join the "Freedom of Russia Legion." Ultimately, she was indicted on six counts across 12 incidents, including preparation for treason, assistance to terrorism, incitement of extremism, justification of terrorism, spreading false information about the Russian Armed Forces, and rehabilitation of Nazism.

Bumaga analyzed all cases related to the law on spreading "fakes" about the army. According to their calculations, during the two years of the law's existence, Saint Petersburg courts have initiated nine criminal cases. Eight individuals are currently in pre-trial detention centers or prisons, with six of them sentenced to eight years, including one in absentia. No acquittal verdicts have been issued.


Aleksandr Avdeyev, Governor of the Vladimir region, has signed a resolution according to which "disabled soldiers of the special military operation will now have the right to receive an annual payment of 10,000 rubles [$110] in honor of May 9." Additionally, widows and parents of residents of the region who died in the war will receive an annual payment of 5,000 rubles [$55]. The regional budget allocates over 42 million rubles [$458,400] for these payments.

Sergey Nosov, Governor of the Magadan region, told about a festival on weaving camouflage nets, where more than 50 nets were produced.

Children and Educational System

The Ministry of Education and Science has rejected the program for training psychologists to work with participants of the war in Ukraine. The department clarified that they were dissatisfied with the quality of the program from the very beginning.

Rinat Sadykov, Minister for Youth Affairs of Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan, stated that all students in the 10th grade in the region, "without exception," will be sent to five-day military training camps.