Mobilization in Russia for May 17–18, 2023 CIT volunteer summary
Authorities and Legislation
In a third reading, the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] approved amendments to Russia's federal constitutional legislation on martial law. If enacted, Putin would be able to issue decrees that authorize the resettlement of residents from the occupied territories in Ukraine to regions where martial law is not declared. In addition, the amendments would allow for administrative detentions for up to 30 days for violation of prohibitions and restrictions imposed by presidential decrees. Changes have also been made to the procedure for conducting elections in areas under martial law. Previously, elections were not allowed in such areas, but now the decision to hold them can be made by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation after consultations with the Ministry of Defense and the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Yana Lantratova, a State Duma member from the Just Russia party, called on the Ministry of Science and Higher Education to amend its regulations on academic leaves for students. According to her, participation in the "special military operation" should be valid grounds for academic leave. Moreover, she suggested that academic leave in such cases should last until the end of the "special military operation." Currently, academic leave is only granted for medical, family, and other circumstances for a maximum period of two years.
Renat Suleymanov, a State Duma member from Novosibirsk, has introduced an amendment to the "Law on Education." If adopted, conscripts and participants of the "special military operation" will be offered entrance to higher education institutions without competition. According to Suleymanov, "service in the army is more meaningful than participation in any academic competition." In February of this year, the State Duma already approved a bill in the first reading that provides extra points for admission to higher education institutions to people who served in the military. Currently, such points are only given to the winners of academic competitions, volunteers and those awarded with badges of the "Ready for Labor and Defense" national physical fitness program.
Today, the Supreme Court approved a Plenum resolution "on judicial practice for considering cases of crimes against military service." It sets forth the following guidance:
- Mobilized soldiers bear responsibility for crimes against military service on an equal basis with contract soldiers;
- Not only servicemen but also other individuals involved in the commission of crimes will bear responsibility for military offenses;
- Refusal to obey orders to relocate to a new place of service and evasion of military duty can be classified under Article 337 or 338 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation;
- Repetitive non-compliance with the same order constitutes a single offense. Refusal to obey orders can manifest as a refusal to use weapons during combat and abandonment of positions;
- Voluntary surrender as a prisoner of war includes any act of surrendering, unless the serviceman "resisted decisively." Actions (or inaction) aimed at surrendering as a prisoner of war, without actually defecting to the enemy side, constitute an attempted surrender;
- Liability does not arise if a serviceman, due to his physical condition, was unable to avoid capture (helplessness, including severe injury or concussion);
- If a serviceman, after surrendering as a prisoner of war, engages in combat actions on the enemy side, it will be classified as treason;
- Liability is being introduced for attempting to leave the military unit without permission;
- The statute of limitation period for cases of desertion runs from the date the defendant reaches the age limit of being in military service, or from the mobilization end date. The right to prosecute members of service lapses after the expiration of 15 years starting from the day of their reaching the age limit of being in the reserve;
- During the period of mobilization or martial law, members of the armed forces may not evade their military service obligations referring to any extreme necessity, even in life-threatening circumstances.
Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited the training grounds of the Western Military District to inspect combat readiness of contract soldiers. According to the Ministry of Defense, these training grounds are used for individual training of contract soldiers as well as combat cohesion drills within units.
The Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg adopted a resolution allowing civil servants who signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense or joined the army as volunteer fighters to return to their previous employment upon the completion of their service.
BBC News Russian points out that the Moscow Zhilischnik [state-financed institution for housing and utilities maintenance] has been recruiting men for the war with Ukraine. Two job postings seeking for security guards advertised by the Zhilischnik divisions of Kuzminki and Ryazansky districts of Moscow offer a monthly wage of 170.000 — 240.000 rubles which greatly exceeds the salaries of other personnel the state institution is currently looking for. One of the ads notes the connection of the job opening with the Ministry of Defense. A successful candidate will be entitled to a status of a war veteran and various benefits. The other advertisement reveals that the role requires to "safeguard the assigned territory." The same telephone number is listed in both ads. The BBC journalist called the number and verified that the contract was being offered by the Ministry of Defense, with an additional incentive to be paid by the Moscow government.
The military commissariat [enlistment office] of the Novosibirsk region reported that Novosibirsk residents will be called up for military training, along with citizens from other regions, in accordance with the decree of the President of the Russian Federation. At the same time, the military commissar of the Rostov region ruled out the possibility of sending electronic draft notices for citizens to attend training. According to him, "there can be no electronic draft notices until Jul. 1, 2024. This is written in the law."
Wagner Group's advertisement appeared on video screens in the branches of Russian Post in the Tver region.
Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters
The list of the mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been supplemented by Aleksandr Kozlov from the Sverdlovsk region.
The Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet prepared a story about the service of Russian fighters from little-known groups of mercenaries and "volunteer fighters." Fighters from units such as Redut, BARS, Don, and the Union of Donbas Volunteers complain about the lack of injury payments and compensation for the families of the deceased, as well as poor equipment and the attitude of the command.
The military commissariat in Khimki has been refusing for a month to grant a draft deferment to a mobilized man who is on "special military operation." The military prosecutor's office conducted a check and confirmed that the mobilized person has the right to a draft deferment. The chief military commissar of the Moscow region, Aleksey Astakhov, also sent a petition to the military commissariat to grant a deferment. The military commissariat itself claims that the city's head, Dmitry Voloshin, did not sign the protocol necessary for the mobilized person to return home.
Sentences, Legal Proceedings, and Incidents
In Buryatia [Russia’s constituent republic], a military court found junior sergeant Aleksey Kalashnikov guilty of going AWOL and sentenced him to three years in prison. The serviceman, "wishing to take a break from his duties," went AWOL on Dec. 1, 2022, and was detained by military police on Dec. 29.
The Novosibirsk Garrison Military Court sentenced private contract soldier Nikolay Kovalyov to a 3-year suspended sentence with a probationary period of 3 years for going AWOL. On Dec. 27, 2022, the serviceman left his unit and returned home to his family in the Tomsk region; and two weeks later, on Jan. 15, he returned to the service. The court took into account that the soldier has four minor dependents and a pregnant wife.
In Crimea, a freight train carrying grain ran off the track. Russia appointed authorities of Crimea confirmed the incident. According to them, the incident occurred due to "an interference of unauthorized individuals into the work of railway transport." No casualties were reported. The traffic of commuter trains between Simferopol and Sevastopol was suspended, passengers moved by buses. It was planned to restore the railway tracks and resume traffic by the evening of May 18.
A sabotage on the railway tracks has occurred in Kazan. Unidentified individuals have set fire to four relay cabinets near the Derbyshki station in the Sovetsky district of the city. Five freight trains were delayed. Suspects are being sought.
Anonymous people are demanding the dismissal of the school principal who reported to the police about the afro braids "in the colors of the Ukrainian flag" of a school student, who we wrote about in one of the previous summaries, and are threatening her with an act of terror. In response, the girl's mother shared details about the bullying her family had been facing.
Damir Khabibullin, the head of the trade and consumer services department in the Almetyevsk district of Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic], who we wrote about in the previous summary, has been placed under the house arrest. Now a criminal case has been initiated against the official with two charges filed against him: fraud committed through the misuse of his official position and abuse of power. According to investigators, Khabibullin stole money under the pretext of collecting funds "for the needs of the special military operation."
Governor of the Primorsky region Oleg Kozhemyako announced the creation of an assistance program for military service members. Soldiers and their families are now entitled to medical, psychological, educational, legal, and social help. Each family will be assigned a social coordinator. The support program includes sanatorium vouchers, monthly allowance to children of those killed or disabled, free meals and supplementary education for school children.
Volunteers in the city of Vladimir donated a UAZ minivan and a Niva four-wheel drive vehicle to the Ukrainian war effort. In the future, they plan to donate four additional cars to the army. Residents of the town of Bodaybo in the Irkutsk region continue to collect aid for their neighbors participating in the war. The deputy mayor requested that funds be collected for a pickup truck, thermal vision devices, and helmets. Residents of the village of Nizhnyaya Poyma in the Krasnoyarsk region opened a workshop where underwear and protective balaclavas are sewn for the needs of the "special military operation" participants.
School Children and College Students
A high school in Arzamas in the Nizhny Novgorod region offered students to fill out a survey whose main question focused on their desire to work at military-industrial complex factories. The questionnaire, sent down by the local department of education, asked respondents to fill in their personal data and their post-graduation plans including any intentions to work for a military–industrial complex enterprise.
In school No. 23 in the hamlet of Ust-Nevinsk in the Stavropol region, representatives of the United Russia party [Putin’s ruling party] unveiled a "Hero’s Desk" and invited the widow and the daughter of a soldier killed in Ukraine on the second day of the war to be the honorary first people to sit at it. While the daughter wept sitting over the portrait of her father, officials took pictures for the record.
Between Apr. 10 and 28, Russian authorities conducted the first stage of a sociological study gauging attitudes towards the country, the war, and the president at 500+ colleges (30 of them on the occupied territories in Ukraine). The Vazhnye Istorii [Important Stories] news outlet reported on the initial results of this large survey. The survey was organized by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Ministry of Education, and the Tomsk State University. The plan is to continue this research through Nov. 2023. In our summaries, we have reported on similar surveys multiple times. It is difficult to judge how accurately the results reflect reality since the survey was not anonymous and in order to fill it out, respondents had to authenticate either by their phone number or via the VKontakte social network. For example, the results state that 64% of respondents declared their confidence in President Putin. On the other hand, students at the Higher School of Economics, by the decision of the college leadership, were not asked that question.
Students of the Novotroitsk Construction College in the Orenburg region were shown "Weapons of Victory" during an interactive lesson at the museum and exhibition center. In the first part of the lesson, they demonstrated the weapons of the Great Patriotic War [WWII], and in the second ― elements of the weapons of the current war in Ukraine under the general title "Exhibits from the battlefield." The students also had a master class on weaving a camouflage suit for snipers and making trench candles.
Director of the immigration service of the Ministry of the Interior of Finland Sanna Sutter announced the Finnish authorities could not make a decision on granting asylum to Russians who had left the country to escape mobilization. The Nordic countries are waiting for the position of the European Union to make such a decision. Now, according to the Dozhd [TV Rain] independent Russian TV channel, 1,109 Russian citizens who left because of mobilization are waiting for a decision on granting them asylum in Finland.
The authorities of Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] are going to spend 2.5 million rubles on a sociological survey about the attitude towards Head of the republic Oleg Nikolaev, President Putin and the "special military operation."
The Polygon Media outlet reports that contracts for the supply of equipment for the detection and suppression of UAVs have appeared on the public procurement portal. The media outlet calculated that Russian enterprises and government agencies have spent at least 140 million rubles on such equipment for six months. Let us recall that earlier the chairman of the Defense Committee and State Duma member Andrey Kartapolov suggested that companies independently purchase defense systems to combat drones, since the Ministry of Defense "is focused on defending important state and military facilities."