mobilization briefs
May 25, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for May 23–24, 2023 CIT volunteer summary

Authorities and Legislation

The Russian government did not endorse the proposed bill on granting draft exemptions to individual entrepreneurs and sole proprietors. Labeling the initiative as "excessive," the government argued that there are already “many conditions” under which draft exemptions could be sanctioned. The bill was introduced to the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] in January 2023.

The Russian State Duma has approved amendments to the "Law on State Secrets" in the first reading. According to Duma members, these changes are designed to enhance the protection of classified information during the "special military operation." This law restricts citizens who currently have or previously had access to classified information from leaving the country. It introduces a new term, "secrecy regime," and outlines the admission process to state secrets. Additionally, it broadens the President's authority to maintain this "secrecy regime" within the Presidential Administration. However, the practical implications of these amendments remain unclear.

In the third reading, the State Duma has approved amendments to a number of legislative acts aimed at "improving measures to perpetuate the memory of those who died in defense of the Motherland." These amendments will legalize the burial of volunteer fighters and mercenaries from "private military companies" in military cemeteries.

Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] provides a detailed analysis of the resolutions of the Russian Supreme Court adopted on May 18 and related to the consideration of criminal cases regarding military service. It should be noted that such resolutions oblige courts at all levels to take their provisions into account when rendering their decisions. For instance, these resolutions imply that courts can now consider the current situation as "wartime" and mobilization as ongoing. Despite statements made by officials, the latter can only be deemed completed after the "date and time" of its cancellation are announced. It is worth noting that Vladimir Putin has not yet signed the corresponding decree.

State Duma member Stanislav Naumov has proposed empowering regional leaders with the authority to grant deferments during mobilization. According to him, this measure would contribute to strengthening the economies of the Russian regions. Naumov did not specify whether the corresponding bill had been introduced to the State Duma.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

There is an increasing amount of military service advertising on the streets of Russian cities. According to the Fontanka media outlet, Saint-Petersburg authorities have already printed 26,000 advertising leaflets to be distributed in shopping malls. There are also plans for advertising in cinemas, gas stations, and catering facilities. Starting from Jun. 1, there will be even more advertising as 14 contracts for billboard advertising were signed in early May. The total procurement amount is 172 million rubles [$2,150,000].

Advertising for contract military service keeps appearing across the country. Such posters were noticed in a school in Vladimir, on the facade of a medical college in Yakutsk, near a chapel in Yoshkar-Ola, and on the side of a trolleybus in Saransk. Also, an advertisement for the Wagner Group was placed at a local branch of the Russian Post in Novosibirsk.

It is reported that the rector of Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry issued a directive stating that all employees must submit draft deferment certificates for "data check-up."

According to the Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel, a lawyer was denied taking off the military rolls by power of attorney at the draft board of the Kalininsky district of Saint Petersburg, referring to the suspension of such possibility until the order of the city draft commissar and the approval of a standard power of attorney form.

In Yekaterinburg, they have started recruiting volunteer fighters to participate in the "special military operation" as part of the Uran battalion associated with Roscosmos [Russia’s space agency]. A promotional video of the unit is being circulated on social networks. Additionally, as reported by Sirena Telegram channel, a meeting was held for the employees of one of the Roscosmos enterprises, during which they were urged to join the battalion. The fighters are promised 100,000 rubles [$1250] from Roscosmos after signing the contract, as well as the same amount monthly in addition to payments from the Ministry of Defense and regional allowances. They will also receive gear from the battalion's own warehouse.

MinTsifry [Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media] has tightened draft exemption regulations for IT companies. Earlier, it was enough to maintain a respective economic activity code according to the Russian National Classifier of Types of Economic Activity (OKVED). This year, additional requirements have been introduced: the share of IT business in the company’s revenues must be at least 30%, and the average salary level needs to be higher than that in the country or region.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The lists of mobilized soldiers killed in the war have been updated and now include Denis Fazylov from the Sverdlovsk region, Aleksandr Karlov and Roman Kudlay from the Kursk region, and Marsel Khalidullin from the Tyumen region.

Acting Minister of Health of the Komi Republic [Russia’s constituent republic] Igor Diagilev decided to go to the war. He announced that in a video message and repeated several times that his decision was based on "personal principles" without pressure or prompting from someone else. Diagilev headed the Ministry on Apr. 19, 2021. Before that, he worked as a traumatologist in Moscow clinics for years. He is not going to be laid off: the deputy minister will be standing in for him in the meantime.

Mayor of Vorkuta Yaroslav Shaposhnikov announced that contrary to his earlier intentions he would not be departing to the war zone, having "received a command to postpone his deployment." On Mar. 28, 2023, Shaposhnikov publicly pledged to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense and join the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine. On May 24, he backtracked, claiming to have been instructed by Head of the Komi Republic Vladimir Uyba to delay his departure. The mayor did not clarify when exactly he would set off to Ukraine, explaining that he was waiting to be given “a specific date.”

Two volunteer units have been created in Bashkortostan [Russia’s constituent republic]: a tank battalion named after Sergey Zorin and an anti-aircraft artillery battery named after Sharif Suleymanov. The units will commence combat cohesion exercises on May 25. Earlier, the republic authorities reported that over 600 men had signed up to join the new volunteer battalions titled Northern Amurs and Vatan.

In the Belgorod region, seven territorial defense battalions have been formed, with the total number of members approaching 3,000, as Head of the region Vyacheslav Gladkov announced. Gladkov also noted that arming of territorial defense members still presents an issue due to not yet being regulated by the Russian legislation.

According to an investigation by the 7x7 online media outlet, journalists interviewed the families of conscripts guarding the border in the Belgorod region. The conscripts have been guarding the border since September of last year and regularly come under fire. Since the beginning of the war, at least seven conscripts have been killed on the border. The VChK-OGPU Telegram channel [the name is a reference to the VCHK and OGPU, which were the intelligence and state security services in the early Soviet Union] also spoke with the mother of an 18-year-old conscript soldier from Karelia [Russia’s constituent republic] who was injured in the Belgorod region during the breakthrough on May 22. According to her, in February 2023, recruits conscripted during  the fall 2022 campaign were assigned to different checkpoints to guard the border. Specifically, 25 people were assigned to guard the Grayvoronovsky district, among whom there was a lieutenant, a mobilized soldier, and the rest were conscript soldiers.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings, and Incidents

The Chita Garrison Military Court sentenced junior sergeant Danze-Belek Damba to a 1-year suspended sentence. The serviceman ordered a comrade-in-arms to get out of bed, and when the latter did not comply, he kicked him in the chest, then hit his head against the bed headboard, and finally punched him in the head.

Britain's intelligence, based on research by independent Russian media, states that from January to May 2023, Russian military courts considered 1,053 cases of servicemen going AWOL. This figure exceeds the total for 2022.Most servicemen who were found guilty received suspended sentences. This makes it possible to send them back to the combat zone.

In the area of the Veselo-Voznesenska checkpoint on the border of the "DPR" and Russia's Rostov region, a person climbed over the fence and ran towards the forest in the direction of Russia. Border guards were alerted and when they began to close in on the man, he blew himself up with an unidentified improvised explosive device. The man's identity and motives have not yet been established.

A 30-year-old resident of the Moscow region was detained on May 24 near the Federal Security Service (FSB) office in the town of Vidnoye. According to preliminary reports, the man threw a Molotov cocktail at the building door. The bottle broke, but the fire did not start. A criminal case was opened under the article on willful destruction of property.


Member of the State Duma from the Sverdlovsk region Maksim Ivanov said that he is once again collecting aid for Russian fighters, which would include personal parcels, building materials, gas and equipment. He also stated that school no. 54 in Novouralsk produces camouflage nets, with school children involved.

Residents of Khimki, Moscow region, are asked to join the collection of aid for participants of the "special military operation", organized by the "Svoih ne brosayem" ["We don't abandon our kind"] project. First aid supplies, medicine and clothing are requested.

The forestry of Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic] donated two broken trucks to the war in Ukraine. Local residents are to gather an unspecified amount of money for repairs.

Siberian volunteers came up with a new way to aid the participants of the "special military operation" — by drying vegetables and sending them to the forward positions. Volunteers suggest that adding these dried vegetables to soups and stews should improve the taste of food.

Nationalized apartment of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s family in Yalta, Crimea, will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to aid the Russian military. It was previously stated that the apartment would be transferred to low-income or large families.

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet released an article where residents of four regions of Siberia and Far East tell how they are forced to donate part of their salaries "for the needs of the special military operation." The "donation" size varies from 1 to 6 thousand rubles [$12-75], which amounts to more than 15% of the salary for some employees. It is usually state or military unit employees who can't refuse such "voluntary" donations, under direct or implied threat to be fired or sent to the war.


More than 500 children from families of mobilized Saint Peterburgers have seeked psychological counseling since September 2022, as reported by the press service of the Saint Petersburg Administration. Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Mityanina, speaking at a meeting of city cabinet members, talked about the mental condition of children in Saint Petersburg. According to her, children of mobilized persons are a group at particular risk, which needs psychological counseling. The Commissioner also mentioned that, in 2022, she had received 70 applications from families of "special military operation" participants with various complaints about the draft.


Germany has approved only 55 political asylum applications from Russian citizens who fled the county due to mobilization. In total, 2,845 Russians applied for asylum from the beginning of the Russian invasion until May 2023. 814 applications have been processed: 55 of them were approved, 88 were rejected, and in 671 cases, there was a "formal completion of the procedure."

Oleg Borisenko, a former serviceman and founder of the Russian military-patriotic club, addressed Governor of the Tambov region Maksim Yegorov. He accused the head of the region of "plastering" the city of Tambov with war-propaganda banners for budget money and advised him to visit the Polynkovskoye cemetery, where, according to him, "a lot of graves of boys, young guys are." A criminal case has been initiated against Borisenko for "defamation of the Russian Army."