mobilization briefs
May 4

Mobilization in Russia for May 2-3, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

Lawmakers from both houses have introduced a new bill in the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], arguing that law enforcement agencies should transfer firearms confiscated from civilians to the military. According to the explanatory note accompanying the bill, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Russian National Guard currently hold over 250,000 firearms in their warehouses, either confiscated from individuals or deposited by owners who failed to reclaim them within a year.

Authorities in at least 24 cities across Russia have opted to cancel May 9 [Victory Day] parades, while in 27 cities, celebratory fireworks have been called off. The cancellation in nearly all cases has been attributed to "safety concerns," with Belgorod opting for an online format due to "the tactical situation." In some regions, parades will proceed without spectators.

Head of Buryatia Alexey Tsydenov has instructed local officials to elaborate a mechanism for sending impounded automobiles to the frontline. This year, authorities in this constituent republic of Russia have confiscated and transferred at least seven light vehicles to the military.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Mediazona, an independent Russian media outlet, looked into the statistics published by Russia’s Central Bank on preferential loans reserved for war participants. A payment holiday can be allowed just once for loans issued prior to mobilization and prior to the borrower’s departure to the war zone. According to the Central Bank, the number of new applications filed for military benefits continues to increase: over the first three months of 2024, banks received 33,000 such applications, whereas in the last quarter of 2023, only 31,000 applications were filed. Earlier, based on the data available from the Central Bank, Mediazona suggested that as many as 110,500 Russian service members must have been granted deferment of their loan obligations. Since the start of mobilization in September 2022, over 311,000 military members have been granted deferments of their loan payments. The total amount of loans in deferment exceeded 122 billion rubles [$1 billion].

As reported by the Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel, on May 8, MinTsifry [the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of Russia] is starting to accept applications from IT companies required to maintain their national accreditation. These applications, certifying that the company meets the criteria established by the ministry, are to be submitted every year and by June 1. Accredited companies and their employees may qualify for various benefits, such as military draft exemption in case of mobilization.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Nikolay Yezhov from Mordovia, Ivan Lopyrenkov from the Pskov region and Aleksandr Markelov from the Vladimir region.

Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the deaths of 52,155 soldiers in the war with Ukraine, including 6,310 mobilized soldiers. Over the past week, the list has grown by 476 names, including 151 mobilized soldiers. The majority of those killed in the war are individuals who signed contracts with the Russian Army after the invasion began and subsequently volunteered to fight on the frontline after minimal training. Since October 2023, weekly losses of volunteer fighters have not fallen below 75 people, often exceeding 100 people per week.

It has been reported that Captain Eduard Ulman, a GRU [Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation] special forces officer, who was sentenced to 14 years in a penal colony in 2007 for the murder of peaceful Chechens in 2002 but had evaded justice, was killed in the war with Ukraine. This information was disclosed by the Novaya Buryatia outlet. Sergey Simonchyuk, the former head of the public organization Union of Servicemen "Defense," told Holod [independent Russian media outlet] that Ulman was killed in the Donbas. Simonchyuk noted that he learned about Ulman's death from his relatives back in 2020. He did not provide details about the circumstances and date of Ulman's death. In turn, Natalia Korobenkova, the head of the Ulan-Ude branch of Women of Buryatia, told the Ridus media outlet that Ulman was killed during the "special military operation." However, as noted by the Sibirsky Express publication, Ulman is still wanted. More details about Ulman's case are provided by BBC News Russian.

Novaya Gazeta Europe [European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta] has reported that since Feb. 24, 2022, over 900 new graves have appeared in the section dedicated to those killed during the war in Ukraine at the Pantheon of the Defenders, the main Russian military cemetery located in Mytishchi, Moscow region. Already in 2023, the Ministry of Defense resolved to expand the memorial complex, likely out of concern that the space to bury the "heroes" would run out within the next 12 to 18 months. Additionally, the TV-2 channel reported the appearance of a new section at a cemetery in Voronino, Tomsk region, dedicated for burials of soldiers killed in the war with Ukraine.

In Kaluga, relatives of Storm-Z unit members have recorded a video address to Putin, expressing their concerns about their loved ones who were recruited into the war in Ukraine by the Ministry of Defense while serving time at penal colonies. These fighters have been considered missing in action since June 20, 2023, despite allegedly still fulfilling military objectives in July 2023. The Ministry of Defense hotline continues to report that they are actively serving "in the ranks," even though their contracts were supposed to expire in the fall of 2023. Surviving former Storm-Z fighters claim they are being denied benefits because, allegedly, the benefits do not apply to them as volunteer fighters. Mothers and wives of the soldiers also complain that they are unable to receive payouts and documents confirming that their relatives participated in the war. They allege that the Defenders of the Fatherland Fund is refusing to assist Storm-Z unit fighters while providing support to ex-mercenaries from the Wagner Group.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In Nalchik, a former Wagner Group mercenary has been arrested on suspicion of large-scale drug trafficking. Despite his attempts to contest the court order citing his lost leg in the war and state medals received, as well as claiming pardon by Putin's decree for participation in the war, the court upheld his detention.

In the town of Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk region, Ivan Kumov, a previously convicted participant in the war with Ukraine, fatally assaulted Aleksey Khudyakov, a combat veteran of the war in Chechnya [Russia's constituent republic]. According to the deceased's widow, the incident occurred at the end of April, but Kumov has not yet been detained. As the Sirena Telegram channel found out, 39-year-old Ivan Kumov had been previously convicted in four criminal cases for car theft, robbery and assault.

In annexed Sevastopol, a war participant kicked a woman in the face. The next day, an apology from the man appeared on pro-Russian Telegram Z-channels. Local online communities claimed that the man was a member of a Storm-Z unit.

The Barnaul Garrison Military Court has fined soldier Yevgeny Volkov 100,000 rubles [$1,090] for the use of violence against a police officer.

The Tomsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced serviceman Konstantin Babenko to eight years in a penal colony for three incidents of going AWOL.

A court in Ulan-Ude has sentenced soldier Andrey Demchuk to three years of probation for going AWOL. After returning from the frontline, he did not join his unit in Ulan-Ude and went to his father's place. Demchuk explained his actions by citing a need to address issues related to his divorce process. The court took into account that Demchuk signed a contract after the beginning of the "special military operation," as well as his award from the Ministry of Defense and his responsibility as a parent to three children.

The First Eastern District Military Court in the city of Khabarovsk has sentenced Angel Nikolaev to 15 years of imprisonment, with the first four years to be served in prison and the remainder in a maximum security penal colony. He was convicted on charges of terrorism, politically motivated vandalism, hooliganism and desecration of a military burial site. The prosecution had initially sought an 18-year sentence for Nikolaev.

The Rostov Regional Court has sentenced Ivan Milovanov, a native of the city of Luhansk, to 10 years in a maximum security penal colony on charges of espionage. The article under which he was convicted implies that the accused is a foreign citizen. The specifics of the espionage charges have not been disclosed, and details about his prosecution were not previously reported.

As discovered by Mediazona, a case against Viktor Rudenko has been filed in a Saint Petersburg court under the charge of espionage.

In Mordovia [Russia’s constituent republic], the Federal Security Service (FSB) has announced the initiation of a criminal case against a Ukrainian national on charges of high treason and attempted terrorist attack. Law enforcement officers claim that the man was detained "while attempting to carry out a task to set fire to a facility belonging to the Russian Armed Forces."

The FSB has reported the "neutralization of a Ukrainian intelligence agent" in the Leningrad region. According to the intelligence services, the killed man, born in 1976, planned acts of terror on the Ministry of Defense facilities, a volunteer center and a fuel terminal. Allegedly, he arrived from Lithuania in March 2024, where he underwent training in shooting and explosives. Telegram channels associated with law enforcement identify the killed man as 47-year-old Nikolay Surnov, who was sought in early April as an accomplice in the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack. The intelligence service also published a photo of the killed. According to Surnov's profiles in messengers and social networks, he posted links to donations for the "Russian Volunteer Corps."

Children and Educational System

The Agentstvo [Agency]independent media outlet has highlighted that during the "Talking About Important Things" lesson [a compulsory lesson held every Monday in schools across the country], which will be timed to Victory Day, teachers will enumerate the peoples of the Soviet Union who contributed to the fight against fascism during World War II, yet Ukrainians are reportedly excluded from this list. Meanwhile, in Podolsk, preschoolers were gathered for a "victory parade."

The Ministry of Education of the Novosibirsk region responded to a complaint regarding visits by Nikita Semyanov, an ex-convict and participant in the war with Ukraine, to schools in the region. They stated that organizing joint events with citizens and public organizations falls within the schools' purview. They also noted that no complaints were received from parents regarding "patriotic meetings" involving Semyanov. Semyanov's visits to schools came to light in March, coinciding with accusations from several girls, including his ex-wife (for whose father's murder he was sentenced to nine years), who accused him of sexualized violence and engaging in sexual activities with minors.


In the Khabarovsk region, as well as in Russia's constituent republics of Tuva and Tatarstan, participants in the war with Ukraine will run for upcoming regional elections. Notably, the United Russia party [Putin’s ruling party] has decided to automatically increase the election results of all war participants by 25% of votes this year.

The Sirena [Siren] media outlet has published photographs showing how May 1 is celebrated in Russia. The holiday was marked by an exhibition of "trophy" military equipment, the weaving of camouflage nets and the making of trench candles. Interestingly, the word "peace" was omitted from the slogan "Peace, Labor, May."

In Tuva, a Unified Coordination Center has been created to search for those missing in action during combat. Mira Balchiy will lead this center, using her channels to aid in the search for missing husbands. While the official search efforts involve various departments such as the Military Prosecutor's Office, military commissariats and the Investigative Committee, volunteers are also actively involved in conducting searches.

In Kazan, notices about the threat of drone attacks have appeared on stands at apartment buildings. The A4 posters provide recommendations on what to do in the event of UAV attacks. Meanwhile, in Chelyabinsk, a review competition of bomb shelters is set to take place.


BBC correspondent Liza Fokht has shared the story of a former convict who fought with the Storm-V unit but managed to escape from the frontline and flee to France. Meanwhile, The Insider has published accounts from three Russian soldiers who deserted and had taken part in "meat assaults."

Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] has published a story of a resident from the Vladimir region who returned from the war in Ukraine as a disabled veteran. Despite his injuries, the man views his current situation with remarkable optimism. Meanwhile, Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] has reported on how Russian officials' attitudes towards formal visits to occupied territories in Ukraine have changed over time.

Anthropologist Aleksandra Arkhipova has conducted several studies related to anonymous citizen reports, with the Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel publishing her findings. Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, has collected several stories of teenagers facing prosecution for carrying out "sabotage" within Russia. In another story, Meduza has spoken with the son of Aleksandr Demidenko, a Belgorod resident who had been helping Ukrainian refugees return home and died in a pre-trial detention center.