Mobilization in Russia for May 22–23, 2023 CIT volunteer summary
Authorities and Legislation
The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], in its third reading, adopted amendments to the law "On the Procedure for Departure from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation." It should be noted that one of the amendments directly concerns conscripts, who, according to the new rules, will be required to surrender their international passports to the Ministry of the Interior or the Multifunctional Center for the Provision of State and Municipal Services after the draft board comes to a decision regarding them. The international passports will be returned upon completion of their military service. Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] provides a detailed analysis of the other cases in which citizens' passports may be seized in accordance with the new amendments.
The Ministry of Education and Science sent a letter to universities with recommendations on support measures for the students who have the status of a "special military operation" participant as well as for the students whose parents are involved in the war in Ukraine. In particular, the ministry suggests reducing the cost of education for them and providing them with financial assistance.
The Russian authorities of Sevastopol are planning to allocate 474 land plots of 400 square meters each for veterans of war against Ukraine. Previously, the Russian city mayor Mikhail Razvozzhayev announced that the distribution of these plots would begin in mid-summer and promised participants of the "special military operation" up to a thousand free land plots.
Situation in the Belgorod Region
Governor of the Belgorod region Vyacheslav Gladkov reported that two civilians had been injured, and that a woman born in 1941 had passed away during the evacuation from the Grayvoronsky district. According to Gladkov, residents from nine communities in the region are relocated for the moment.
On May 22 and 23, 2023, the social media accounts of the governor of the Belgorod region were flooded with complaints, requests, and questions from local residents regarding bomb shelters, evacuation, and self-defense methods. The majority of these inquiries came from residents of the Grayvoronsky district, who were interested in the evacuation of their family members, procedures in the event of housing destruction, and the fate of their pets left behind.
A source within the region's security forces, as reported by ASTRA publication, revealed that the village of Kozinka in the Grayvoronsky district was blocked off for the day, with "measures taken to identify and apprehend saboteurs." Local residents who were not evacuated did not establish communication with their families. The residents of the town of Grayvoron were also not fully evacuated. In response to pleas for rescuing people, the district administration stated that "there is currently no means of evacuating residents."
The governor of the Belgorod region announced that the "counter-terrorism operation" regime in the region has been lifted. It lasted for approximately one day. During this time, at least two Russian law enforcement officers were killed when they came under fire in the military town of Belgorod-22, according to information from security agencies cited by the Kommersant newspaper. At least four other servicemen sustained injuries.
Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising
The Modnoye Radio musical-entertainment radio station, owned by Dmitry Gryzlov, the son of former State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov, broadcasts advertisements for the Wagner Group. In addition to commercials, the radio station aired a talk show on May 18 featuring representatives of the Wagner Group, who, among other things, announced drone management courses.
In Vladimir, the Rokot center for basic military training urges local residents to volunteer and join the Kaskad military unit in the "DPR" in Ukraine. Potential contract soldiers are promised "amazing adventures" and a "luxury-style war." The Rokot training program was organized in 30 cities in Russia as early as October 2022.
In Moscow, posters advertising recruitment for the war in Ukraine feature in-demand specialties, from military medics to miners and tank commanders.
A mobile enrollment point for contract service will travel across the Leningrad region. According to Vice Governor Mikhail Ilyin, this will ensure that information about the advantages of contract service reaches every interested individual.
BBC News Russian reported on the recruitment of college and university students for contract service in the army under the guise of career guidance events in various regions of Russia. Just last week, such meetings took place at vocational educational institutions in Tula, Ryazan, Murmansk, and Vladivostok.
Another group of 15 volunteer fighters has departed for the war in Ukraine from the city of Almetyevsk, Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic]. Additionally, the government of the Vladimir region reported the departure of 12 more contract soldiers to the war. Groups of contract soldiers are sent from the Vladimir region on a weekly basis.
Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated with Bazar Tsyplov from the Irkutsk region and Yevgeny Kuznetsov from the Vladimir region.
The wife of a mobilized soldier has been trying to bring her husband back home for the past eight months. She regularly records videos for publicity purposes and sends dozens of appeals to various authorities in order to bring home her husband, who has been diagnosed with multiple illnesses. In the latest response received from the prosecutor's office of the Krasnoyarsk garrison, it is stated that her appeal has been forwarded to the prosecutor's office in Omsk.
A 53-year-old volunteer fighter Yevgeny from Slyudyanka complained to the governor of the Irkutsk region that he did not receive a one-time payment of 200,000 rubles [$2500], which is paid by the regional budget. In the response to Yevgeny's question made in the governor's Telegram channel, the payment was due to those who went to war between Jul. 1 and Dec. 15.
Sentences, Legal Proceedings, and Incidents
The Central District Military Court lowered the sentence of contract soldier Marcel Kandarov, who was previously given five years for going AWOL, to three years. With the beginning of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, Marcel Kandarov found himself on the territory of Ukraine. A month later, he returned to Russia for rehabilitation and decided to not return to the service. He applied for discharge, but the review was delayed. The serviceman decided to return home and wait for discharge there. Three months later, he was detained for going AWOL and put into a pre-trial detention facility.
Three out of eight mobilized residents of Kaliningrad were accused of refusal to follow orders — back in December 2022, they had fled from the so-called Luhansk People's Republic and showed up in a police station in Podolsk, Moscow region. Now they are facing a total of over 20 years of imprisonment in a maximum security penal colony, as all eight of them have already been charged with desertion. Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] had previously covered their story.
A taxi driver was giving a lift to servicemen, who then beat up and robbed him, and cut his little finger off. A conflict took place on the road between Mulino and Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod region, where the driver hit an elk. Immediately after the incident, the servicemen drove him to the woods where the assault took place. The suspects were soon detained. Two of them were admitted as witnesses, and the rest were taken into custody.
The Baza Telegram channel has reported the arrest of a suspect in rape of two 4th- and 5th-grade school girls in Novosibirsk. According to preliminary information, Sergey Sh., aged 42, had served in the Wagner Group and his contract expired on May 19.
A 19-year-old Ukrainian man, who was forcibly taken away from Mariupol to Russia and arrested in the Kaliningrad region, has been added to the List of Terrorists and Extremists. A criminal case has been initiated against the young man for inciting terrorism, by allegedly sharing the Azov Brigade’s fundraising posts on the VKontakte social network. As reported by the Astra Telegram channel, the posts were shared when he was already under arrest and his page had not been used for over a year by that time.
In the Moscow City Court, prosecutors have finished providing their evidence in the case of Vitaly Koltsov, a father of three, who threw two Molotov cocktails at prisoner transport vehicles last spring. The charges brought against the man carry a potential life sentence. Mediazona continues to follow the proceedings. Thus, the victims’ appearance before the court has revealed major inconsistencies not only between their testimonies but also with what they themselves were saying when questioned during the investigation.
The police have accused journalist Sergey Podsytnik from the Protokol media outlet from Samara of spreading fake news about the military due to a video about the deaths of mobilized soldiers in Makiivka. The police delivered a draft notice at his parents' house demanding he appear before the Investigative Committee. In the video, for which the journalist is presumably being persecuted, he presented a list of those who were killed during the rocket strike on the building of the vocational school in Makiivka. The journalist fled Russia at the end of 2021. According to official data from the Ministry of Defense, 89 people were killed as a result of the rocket strike on the vocational school, while the CIT team managed to confirm the identities of 139 soldiers, and the journalists from Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] confirmed the identities of 142 soldiers.
A 22-year-old Vladimir Nuzhdin has been detained on suspicion of setting fire to railroad relay cabinets on the Elektrozavodskaya — Sortirovochnaya section of the Kazansky suburban railway line. The incident occurred on May 8, where two cabinets were burned. It is reported that the man confessed to the arson and explained that he committed the crime for money. In a Telegram chat, he communicated with unknown individuals who promised him 15,000 rubles [$190] for the arson. A criminal case has been initiated against the detainee under Article 267 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation ("Putting out of Commission Transport Vehicles or Communications").
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development of the Novosibirsk region proposed introducing additional categories of citizens —participants of the "special military operation", who have become disabled, and family members of deceased participants — into the law "On Additional Measures of Social Protection for Combats." Thus, in the event of disability, the parents of deceased "special military operation" participants will be able to receive a monthly allowance, and widows will receive a one-time payment if they have not remarried. According to the authorities' estimations, an additional allocation of over 54 million rubles [$675,000] annually will be required for this. Elena Penzina, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk region, promised to simplify the procedure for obtaining and installing ramps for disabled “special military operation” participants.
The personnel of a secondary comprehensive school in Vitim, Irkutsk region, refused to donate a part of their salaries to support war participants. The fundraising initiative was launched prior to the May 9 celebration. The campaign collected 758 050 rubles [$9800]. The school principal’s refusal to participate was reported by the district administration.
Vazhnyye Istorii has published a feature article on the incomes and expenditures of the Leningradsky Rubezh [Leningrad defense line] foundation, established in the Leningrad region to support the "special military operation" participants. From August 2022 till March 2023, the foundation raised 56 million rubles [$700,000], while the region Governor Alexander Drozdenko claimed that it was as much as 200 million rubles [$2,500,000]. Vazhnyye Istorii failed to find any comments from military servicemen or their relatives regarding any help from the foundation. However, complaints were easy to find.
The State Tretyakov Gallery offers spouses and children of military personnel fighting in Ukraine to visit the museum for free, a source in the administration of the Tretyakov Gallery told the Sota media outlet.
In the Belgorod region, the Armata military-historical camp is being held at the Center for Patriotic Education of Youth. Seven thousand schoolchildren and students are taking part in the gatherings. Teenagers undergo military-medical, military-tactical, and firearms training. Meanwhile, in Arzamas, Nizhny Novgorod region, members of a patriotic club held a tournament in hand-to-hand combat dedicated to the "anniversary of the beginning of the special military operation."
At a Saint Petersburg government meeting, Governor Alexander Beglov spoke about the need for psychological assistance for children of soldiers participating in the "special military operation." Natalia Putilovskaya, head of the education committee, stated that in the future, each school would have the position of a specialist in educational work, for which former participants of the "special military operation" will be employed.
In Perm, the governing authorities of School No. 12, specializing in studying the German language, refused to hold propaganda classes titled "Talking About Important Things" with participants in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Following the event, pro-war activists appeared at the school. Earlier, due to the refusal to hold events in support of the war, the school management came into conflict with representatives of the Ministry of Education and the Federal Security Service (FSB), which resulted in the deportation of a German citizen who carried out examinations at the school and the closure of the international program, the Perm 36.6 media outlet reports.
In the town of Turinsk, Sverdlovsk region, a federal judge was invited to a school to talk to the students about the legal responsibility of minors, including "defamation of the army."
The Syerditaya Chuvashia [Angry Chuvashia] Telegram channel has published a compilation of events from educational institutions in Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] related to the promotion of the "special military operation" among children in recent months. Additionally, a student from the 3rd grade of a cadet school in Udmurtia [Russia’s constituent republic] participated in the Poems about War campaign. The boy recited poems about battles for the "Russian world."
An article has been released by the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet about the work of school teachers who disagree with the "special military operation" as well as the denunciations that children write about them. The article describes a case involving a teacher who refused to participate in distributing draft notices during the mobilization period. After the teacher's refusal, he was subjected to constant inspections and issued reprimands for smallest violations. As a result, the teacher decided to resign.
The authorities of the Murmansk region are planning to install a monument commemorating "those who perished during the special military operation." The production and installation of the monument, as well as the improvement of the garden square around it, will cost 4.5 million rubles [$56,000].