mobilization briefs
May 21

Mobilization in Russia for May 19-20, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The federal government has endorsed a bill seeking the recognition of unregistered unions if one of the de facto spouses dies or goes missing in action in the war against Ukraine. The surviving partner would be allowed to petition a court to officially recognize their concubinage if the couple lived together in a shared household for at least three years. The requirement would be lowered to only one year if they had a child together. The government has proposed an amendment requiring the partners to not be married to anyone else.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

New raids on migrants and draft dodgers have taken place across several Russian regions. In Rostov-on-Don, law enforcement officers descended upon the city’s night clubs and trade fair. They detained 363 individuals and sent 44 men who had failed to register for military service to draft offices. The Military Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee claims that 300 naturalized citizens have been added to the military rolls in the Rostov region since the beginning of the year. Of those, 23 have signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense, along with another 12 foreign citizens. Meanwhile, another raid took place at the train station in Samara. There, law enforcement officers charged eight individuals with a misdemeanor for failing to register for military service and took them to a draft office.

In Yekaterinburg, authorities are distributing draft notices to reservists at their home addresses. Those who report in are served a second draft notice, summoning them to the draft office for military training from May 28 to July 15. The military commissariat for the Sverdlovsk region has confirmed that they are calling up reservists for military training. The Kremlin published Putin’s decree regarding military training of citizens serving in the reserve on March 1.

The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel clarified the eligibility criteria for obtaining a deferment from regular conscription for men enrolled in undergraduate and graduate schools.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

Over 30 wives and mothers of mobilized soldiers met with the United Russia [Putin's ruling party] party officials in Saint Petersburg on May 16 and demanded for their loved ones to be returned home. In particular, the women addressed the need for the rotation of mobilized personnel and urged to impose a time limit on mobilization duty. As the war drags on, the women argue that the exhausted soldiers are suffering from burnout and health issues, while their families struggle to obtain the military benefits promised by the Russian state. The officials reportedly assured the women that their concerns would be conveyed to Russia’s new Minister of Defense Andrey Belousov; however, no report on the meeting has been released on social media, and no response has been provided to questions posed by the Sever.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet.

Another appeal to Russia’s newly appointed Minister of Defense was made by the mother of mobilized soldier Vladimir Sedov. Following an injury, her son tested positive for hepatitis C. Nevertheless, he got locked up in a barrack in Ussuriysk among other dozens of soldiers injured or detained for absence without leave and was pressured to return to the frontline. Eventually, in early May, he was forcibly returned to active duty. According to Sedov’s mother, it has been months since he received his last salary. She pleads with the minister and other officials to intervene in the matter.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Yakov Shilnikovsky from the Novgorod region and Ruslan Tanyukhin from the Tula region.

An attack on the Belbek military airfield near Sevastopol on the night of May 15 resulted in the death of Maksim Speshilov, a conscript soldier born in 2002. This was reported by the college from which Speshilov graduated in 2023. A memorial service for the conscript was held on May 19 in the village of Krylovo in the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject], his place of origin.

Aleksey Grigoryev, who was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for human trafficking, has been granted freedom for his participation in the war with Ukraine and has already returned home. In 2020, Grigoryev and his accomplices lured homeless people into a car and transported them outside the Volgograd region, where they were subsequently sold to farmers in Russia's constituent Republic of Kalmykia. The kidnappers were selling their victims at approximately 10,000 rubles [$110] each. Grigoryev, referred to by his accomplices as the gang leader, received the shortest sentence of the group.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

Maksim Golovachyov, a former Wagner Group mercenary who returned from the war, has been sentenced to 11 years in a maximum security penal colony for the murder of Guzyaliya Burenina, a resident of the town of Dzerzhinsky in the Moscow region. According to the court’s verdict, discovered by the Vyorstka media outlet, the murder occurred after Burenina revealed that she had fallen in love with another man while Golovachyov was on the frontline. Upon learning this, Golovachyov stabbed her at least 47 times. The court recognized the mercenary's state awards for participation in the war as a mitigating factor in his case.

Aleksandr Lisitsyn, an ex-convict from the Rostov region who joined the Wagner Group as a mercenary, has been sentenced to three years in a penal settlement for theft. According to the court’s statement, Lisitsyn broke into an apartment and stole items and groceries valued at 16,000 rubles [$180]. Shortly afterwards, he was detained. The ex-mercenary pleaded guilty in court but refused to testify. The court considered Lisitsyn’s participation in the war and his state awards and Wagner Group medals as mitigating factors. At the time the crime was committed, he had already been sentenced to a year and ten months in a penal settlement for theft, making a death threat, and causing light bodily harm. Prior to participating in the war, Lisitsyn had been convicted of multiple thefts. The court decision does not mention the pre-war convictions, indicating that Lisitsyn had been pardoned by Putin’s decree.

The criminal case alleging that Viktor Petrov, a mobilized soldier from the Irkutsk region, was driven to suicide has been dropped. The decision had been made already in February, but Petrov’s mother only recently received an electronic notification of the matter. In the words of Yakov Iontsev, a lawyer for the Obschestvenny Verdikt [Public Verdict] human rights organization, "The case was dropped since no crime had been committed. Allegedly, Petrov hanged himself." Earlier, the court denied Petrov’s mother’s suit she filed against her late son’s military unit and the Ministry of Defense in which she alleged that the commanders, aware that Petrov was not liable to serve, failed to demobilize him. In early May of last year, Petrov was found hanged at a military unit stationed in the "LPR." His mother suspects that her son died after being beaten by military police.

The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced military service member Yegor Getmantsev to two years and eight months in a penal colony for failing to follow orders during an armed conflict. Getmantsev refused to follow his commander’s orders to deploy to the war with Ukraine.

A court in Novosibirsk has sentenced 24-year-old Ilya Baburin to 25 years of imprisonment on several charges, including treason and attempted organization of a terrorist attack. He will spend the first five years of his sentence in prison, and the remaining 20 years in a maximum security penal colony. The prosecutor had previously requested a 26-year sentence for Baburin.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) has reported the detention of an "opponent of the special military operation" in Birobidzhan on charges of preparing a terrorist attack for Victory Day on May 9. According to the FSB, the man planned to set fire to a contract military service recruitment facility in the city "under the instructions of Ukrainian intelligence services." The detainee's name and age remain unknown.

A resident of Omsk has been detained on suspicion of aiding the "Freedom of Russia Legion." According to investigators, since October 2022, the man had been assisting Ukrainian call centers by providing communication channels and maintenance services for SIM boxes, devices for operating multiple SIM cards. Additionally, he allegedly offered assistance in creating Telegram accounts, which were later used to collect funds for the "Legion." The man has been ordered into custody and faces criminal charges of "assistance in financing terrorist activities."

A Chechen War veteran and former police officer, 46-year-old Roman Devitsyn, has been arrested on charges of attempted sabotage. According to the ASTRA Telegram channel, Devitsyn was detained in the Rostov region on April 18. He is accused of attempting to set fire to three relay cabinets on a railway. Additionally, he was known to actively criticize Putin and the war in Ukraine on social media.

Timur Kirsanov, a cadet at the Military Institute of Physical Culture, has been sentenced to eight years for attempted sabotage after trying to set fire to a relay cabinet. According to the court, Kirsanov was in debt due to gambling and responded to a chat message offering about 15,000 rubles [$160] for setting fire to the cabinet.

Moscow resident Stanislav Netyosov has been fined 50,000 rubles [$550] for "defaming the Russian Army” due to his yellow-and-blue hair, reports Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet]. On April 28, Netyosov went to the Tverskoy district police station to report an assault and theft. However, the police noticed his hair color and drafted a report on him.

Children and Educational System

As part of the "Talking About Important Things" [a compulsory lesson held every Monday in schools across the country], all schools held a lesson titled "Be Prepared," dedicated to the anniversary of the Soviet Pioneer movement, now revived as the state-led youth organization "The Movement of the First." Officially, the lesson focused on useful work and ecology, but the Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel found military propaganda in the teaching materials. In a video about "good deeds'' during the summer holidays, children are urged not to forget about the "heroes of the special military operation" and are reminded that "camouflage nets can save many lives."

School psychologists will be trained to work with children of "special military operation" participants. This was announced by Yana Lantratova, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education. In the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], efforts will be intensified to work with schoolchildren to address the staffing shortage in the housing and utilities sector.


In the city of Omsk, Maternity Hospital No. 5 will be converted into a military hospital by Dec. 1, 2025. The project is expected to cost 400 million rubles [$4.40 million]. Employees of the maternity hospital have opposed its closure.

Employees of one of the branches of the Federal Bailiff Service in the Tver region have been required to submit applications for deduction of part of their salaries for charity purposes. They must either contribute 500 rubles [$5.5] each to a church or donate a day's earnings to support the war.


Russia has nationalized 13,300 houses and apartments in the occupied territories of Ukraine, declaring them "ownerless property." The authorities of the "DPR" began nationalizing abandoned real estate back in 2021, followed by the occupation authorities of the Zaporizhzhia region in the fall of 2023 and the "LPR" in the spring of 2024. The state seizes housing if the owners cannot return to the frontline regions within a month.

YouTube is blocking opposition content at the request of Russian authorities, as reported by the Agentstvo [Agency] independent media outlet. Videos discussing draft evasion on channels such as Dozor v Volgograde [The Watch of Volgograd] and Shkola Prizyvnika [Conscript School] have been affected, along with a warning of potential blocking issued to the channel of the OVD-Info independent human rights project.

Nine veterans of the war with Ukraine have applied to participate in the primaries of the United Russia party in Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan. Elections to the State Council of Tatarstan will take place in September 2024.


In a podcast with The Insider [independent Russian investigative media outlet], Olga Romanova, Executive Director of the Rus’ Sidyashchaya [Russia Behind Bars] civil rights movement, discussed the evolution of Russian prisons and the Federal Penitentiary Service's (FSIN) approach to recruiting convicts for the war. According to Romanova, FSIN officers discourage convicts from enlisting for the war because convicts are a significant source of income for them.

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet reported that volunteer fighters recruited for the war are increasingly complaining about the Ministry of Defense's refusal to pay the promised 3 million rubles [$33,000] for injuries and disabilities. These war-wounded, left without compensation, struggle to find employment.

The Okno [Window] publication shared the story of Dmitry Evdokimov from Petrozavodsk, who was twice convicted of murder. Recently, he returned from the war and his neighbors now fear for their lives.

In August 2023, Ramil "Samurai" Ulmasbaev,  the commander of the Bashkir Vatan volunteer unit, executed three subordinate contract soldiers. The Vot Tak [Like This]media outlet highlighted the peculiar customs prevailing in Russian units on the frontline.