mobilization briefs
May 24

Mobilization in Russia for May 21-23, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The introduction of a progressive scale and higher income tax rates will not affect participants of the war against Ukraine, stated Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, at a meeting of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], adding that the tax parameters for the various categories of income have yet to be finalized. As Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] reported in March, the reform seeks to introduce a progressive scale for income tax with rates of 13%, 15% and 20%, and raise the corporate tax rate from 20% to 25%.

The Ministry of Defense is planning to amend the order regulating the admission of citizens of the Russian Federation into volunteer units. It published a notice of commencement of work on the initiative, but not yet the text of the proposed amendments. According to the notice, the Ministry of Defense intends to lay down the conditions for criminal prosecution of volunteer fighters for certain crimes against military service and specify the procedure for the application of disciplinary measures. The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel notes that members of volunteer units are not presently considered as military personnel and, therefore, cannot be charged with military crimes, such as going AWOL or failing to execute orders. However, the Law on Defense enables authorities to extend the military personnel status to them through further regulation. Until now, the law gave volunteer fighters the right to terminate their contracts early or upon expiration, while going AWOL and other breaches of military discipline only provided commanders with grounds to terminate a contract from their side, but not to initiate criminal proceedings.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense has drafted a resolution to regulate the induction of members of registered Cossack societies into the mobilization reserve. At present, these societies count around 146,000 members across the country, with an estimated 20,000 members taking part in the invasion of Ukraine. Earlier, Putin had signed a bill into law, which established a Cossack mobilization reserve.

A bill seeking to grant both a monthly survivor’s benefit and an insurance pension concurrently to the families of military personnel killed in action in Ukraine with dependent children under the age of 23 has been submitted to the State Duma. A surviving spouse of a deceased veteran with eligible children will be entitled to a monthly survivor’s benefit regardless of their age, physical ability and income, as long as they do not remarry. Moreover, the spouse will be entitled to both benefits until the dependent child reaches the age of 18 (or 23, if engaged in full-time education). The current version of the law grants eligibility to both benefits only until the youngest child in the family turns eight.

The governor of Russia’s Rostov region announced that a five-kilometer "buffer zone" would be created along the border with the occupied part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine to prevent Ukraine from carrying out cross-border raids on Russian towns. Special legal restrictions, similar to those that apply to Russia’s international borders, will be established in the buffer zone. While in the zone, it will be mandatory to have identification documents available for verification at all times. To be allowed to enter the area within 100 meters from the border, one will be required to give a 12-hour advance notice to the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

In Moscow, a 21-year-old man attempted suicide after being declared fit for statutory military service. Having been expelled from the university and no longer qualifying for deferment, he visited the draft office on May 20 and was deemed fit to serve despite multiple health conditions. According to his mother, as a result, the young man suffered a severe nervous breakdown. Following an unsuccessful attempt to jump out of a window, he attempted suicide by cutting himself, but was promptly stopped and placed in a psychiatric hospital.

Authorities in the Voronezh region have increased the regional sign-up bonus from 120,000 rubles [$1,330] to 505,000 rubles [$5,600]. Now, including federal payments, volunteer fighters in the Voronezh region will receive 700,000 rubles [$7,760]. Meanwhile, the region's budget deficit for 2024 is projected at 45.7 billion rubles [$507 million].

The military commissar of the Vladimir region, Yury Gusarov, reported that in addition to men, women are also signing contracts with the Ministry of Defense in the region, typically as medical personnel. Gusarov also acknowledged that the authorities are actively recruiting foreign citizens for the war in Ukraine, offering them Russian citizenship in return for their participation. Simultaneously, the rector of Vladimir State University announced that since 2022, 70 students from the university had gone to war, with at least one of them having been killed. Additionally, 19 homeless individuals from Russia's constituent republic of Sakha (Yakutia) joined the war in 2023 as part of the Change Life campaign.

Konstantin Belyukov, head of the Yukamensky district in Udmurtia [Russia's constituent republic], has gone to war. This was announced by the head of the Udmurt Republic, Aleksandr Brechalov, who praised Belyukov for his work. However, as noted by the Sota media outlet, since February 2022, the prosecutor's office has regularly recorded numerous violations in various sectors in the Yukamensky district.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

The wife of Denis Bocharov, a mobilized soldier who was forcibly sent to the frontline, has arrived in Moscow to "seek justice and find her husband." The 33-year-old mobilized man from Russia’s constituent Republic of Khakassia, after a year of service, was sent home on leave. Due to health issues, he began a medical examination process instead of returning to the frontline. On May 13, the military police detained the man and transported him to Rostov-on-Don without documents and personal belongings. After disappearing for five days, Bocharov managed to contact his wife and inform her that he was under the supervision of the military police in Donetsk as a prisoner on charges of going AWOL for allegedly evading military service, and that he was being assigned to an assault brigade. His wife is requesting that Russia’s Minister of Defense Andrey Belousov to investigate the legality of the actions of the command of her husband's unit.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Ramazan Ramazanov from Russia’s constituent Republic of Dagestan, Vadim Demidenko from the Stavropol region, Aleksey Kondrakhov from the Volgograd region, Sergey Morkovin from the Vladimir region and Fyodor Russkikh from Russia’s constituent Republic of Buryatia.

Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] has discovered the grave of Roman Chernikov, a resident of the Moscow region who in 2018 was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for murdering his stepdaughter. In prison, Chernikov enlisted in the war against Ukraine, where he was later captured by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The date of Chernikov's death is given as Sept. 6, 2023, and he was buried in early November. According to the database of the Moscow region, Chernikov had a "military" burial.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

On May 22, in Rostov-on-Don, a dragnet plan was announced due to a soldier armed with a pistol who had escaped from his unit. That same day, it was reported that he had been apprehended. The man was handed over to military police for further investigation.

The court of the city of Krasnokamensk in the Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject] sentenced war participant Yevgeny Kargin to six years in a maximum security penal colony for car theft with violence. The man pleaded guilty to the charges, with his participation in the war and his partner's pregnancy recognized as mitigating factors by the court.

A court in Barnaul has sentenced service member Pavel Petrov to ten years in a general regime colony on charges of going AWOL. According to the court, Petrov went AWOL on five occasions between May and November 2023, from 10 days to nearly a month and a half.

The Mirny Garrison Military Court sentenced contract soldier Daniil D. to five and a half years’ probation for going AWOL. After being discharged from the hospital, the soldier decided not to return to the combat zone as he had not received payments for his injuries due to his unit's disbandment. Six months later, officials from the commandant's office visited his mother and informed her that he was wanted for failing to report to his duty station.

A woman from Rostov-on-Don has been sentenced to five years in a penal colony for attempting to bribe her son out of military service. The woman handed over 250,000 rubles [$2,770] to an intermediary, but the intermediary did not give the money to the intended recipient.

A court in the Orenburg region has fined an unnamed man 140,000 rubles [$1,550] for fraud committed in a group in conspiracy, causing significant damage to a citizen. According to investigators, the criminals stole a total of 650,000 rubles [$7,210] from five elderly individuals. However, the accused did not appear at the sentencing because he had signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense and was deployed to a combat zone. Additionally, a resident of the Nizhny Novgorod region was also exempted from punishment for failure to pay alimony because he had also gone to war.

In Petrozavodsk, Vladimir Koklovsky has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to set fire to the Besovets airfield. He is charged with attempted sabotage aimed at destroying military vehicles. Law enforcement officers allegedly found correspondence on the detainee's phone with an unknown person who offered him money to set fire to infrastructure facilities. Koklovsky had previously been convicted of destroying property by arson.

Law enforcement officers have detained a 20-year-old resident of the Rostov region suspected of setting fire to a relay cabinet between two railway stations within the city of Rostov-on-Don. He faces up to 20 years in prison for terrorism.

In the Nizhny Novgorod region, the FSB detained two locals who, allegedly, were scouting transportation infrastructure for a reward. Additionally, they had purchased components for explosive devices for a terrorist attack on railway tracks at the behest of Ukrainian intelligence services.

ATESH [Telegram channel of the Ukrainian partisan movement] reported an act of sabotage in the Smolensk region. According to the channel, a telecommunications cabinet of a communications tower near Smolensk was destroyed, which purportedly hosted air-defense communication systems of the 49th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces.

In the Kemerovo region, three 16-year-old teenagers were detained on suspicion of setting fire to a relay cabinet at the Bochaty station of the West Siberian Railway. The young men were placed in a pre-trial detention center for two months on charges of group sabotage. The teenagers could have been arrested as early as the first half of May.

The Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced 21-year-old Mikhail Balabanov from Kazan to four and a half years in a penal colony for attempting to set fire to a draft office. He will spend the first two years in prison and the remaining term in a maximum security penal colony. More details about the Balabanov case can be found in one of our previous summaries.

A 36-year-old bartender from the Moscow region, Vladimir Malina, was sentenced to 25 years in a penal colony in the case of arson of a relay cabinet at a railway crossing. He was charged under 10 articles, including participation in terrorist and sabotage communities. The prosecution had requested 28 years in the colony. The arson occurred on April 25, 2023 near the town of Naro-Fominsk. The Baza Telegram channel claimed that after his detention, Malina stated that he had committed the arson on his own initiative. The Vot Tak [Like This] media outlet, citing a source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, reported that a case had been initiated against Malina for participating in the "Freedom of Russia Legion."  We reported on this case earlier in our summaries (1, 2).

The First Eastern District Military Court sentenced a resident of Norilsk to two years in a general regime colony for calls for terrorism. According to the OVD-Info independent human rights project, the case likely concerns 32-year-old Maksim Polovnikov. The criminal case was initiated based on comments on the VKontakte social network. In September, Polovnikov was sent for psychiatric examination. In November, he was added to the list of extremists and terrorists by the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation (Rosfinmonitoring).

A teenager from the Stavropol region is accused of persuading a friend to join the "Freedom of Russia Legion" during a private conversation. Previously, the Astra Telegram channel reported that a criminal case for calls for terrorism was initiated against 16-year-old Ali R. from the Stavropol region.

The Zabaykalsky Regional Court sentenced a 21-year-old local resident Sulimova to 12 years in prison for treason. She was arrested in July 2023. According to investigators, the woman from Chita filmed trains with military vehicles and then sent the photos and videos to a representative of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

The Second Eastern District Military Court sentenced a resident of the Irkutsk region, Vladimir Belkovich, to 13 years in a penal colony for high treason, incitement to terrorism, and an attempt to participate in a terrorist organization. According to law enforcement, Belkovich corresponded with a representative of the "Freedom of Russia Legion," who instructed him to distribute leaflets.

The Volgograd Investigative Committee did not see a criminal offense in the actions of propagandists who read out personal data of people who brought flowers to the monument to the victims of political repression in memory of Alexei Navalny on the air of the Volgograd 1 TV channel.