mobilization briefs
May 10

Mobilization in Russia for May 7-9, 2024 CIT Volunteer Summary

Victory Day

In Moscow, a military parade was held to commemorate Victory Day [celebrated on May 9 in Russia]. The attendees included participants of the invasion of Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense claimed that 200 frontline military personnel joined the parade. The Agentstvo [Agency] independent media outlet noted that at least three individuals serving in units accused by Ukrainian authorities of war crimes were present in the stand next to Putin, among honorary guests:

  1. First Lieutenant Chalym Chuldum-ool, serving in the 55th Motorized Rifle Brigade, which, in March 2022, occupied the village of Yahidne in the Chernihiv region. Back then, Russian soldiers rounded up over 350 local residents and locked them in the basement of the village school for 28 days, under conditions akin to those of a concentration camp. Ten people died in captivity. The hostages were only able to leave the basement on March 31, once the Russian forces left the village.
  2. Major Dudko, serving in the 76th Air Assault Division, which has been accused of murdering civilians in Bucha in spring 2022. In December 2022, the New York Times published the names of at least 22 soldiers serving in that unit who could have been involved in the murders.
  3. Major Artur Orlov, serving in the 90th Tank Division. In the fall of 2022, the Ukrainian police charged members of that unit with the gang rape of a pregnant woman, who later lost the baby as a result. In March 2023, the European Union sanctioned Division Commander Ramil Ibdatullin for the war crimes committed by his subordinates.

The Astra Telegram channel pointed out that Lieutenant Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov headed a tank column in the parade in Khabarovsk for the second year in a row. He is accused of ordering the execution of civilians in Bucha in spring 2022, when he commanded the 64th Motorized Rifle Brigade. Putin awarded Omurbekov the title of Hero of Russia.

Fyodor Bondarenko, a 98-year-old veteran, was denied water during the parade in Tomsk. The deputy mayor chased away a young woman who was going to give water to the veteran, allegedly because it would “spoil the image for the TV.” Bondarenko was hospitalized as a result.

The Vyorstka media outlet has reported on municipal authorities and social services announcing their Victory Day gifts to veterans. According to the reports, many veterans were presented with bags of groceries as part of these gifts.

The Kemerovo region became the only region in Russia to host the march of the Immortal Regiment, as all other regions canceled such marches citing “existing security concerns.” Meanwhile, on the eve of the May 9 holiday, Kazan held an event similar to the Immortal Regiment march. However, instead of displaying photos of those killed in the Great Patriotic War, photos of those killed and missing in action during the war with Ukraine were carried.

The Agentstvo media outlet points out that at least 67 Russian regions, as well as all the annexed Ukrainian territories, opted out of fireworks in honor of Victory Day. Only 11 regions proceeded with fireworks celebrations. Even without information on the fireworks plans of the remaining five federal subjects, this marks the highest number of fireworks cancellations since the war with Ukraine began.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

On May 9, wives of mobilized soldiers from the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement held a demonstration at Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow. Women wearing white scarves brought flowers and ribbons inscribed with messages advocating for the return of mobilized soldiers from the frontline. The demonstration was observed by uniformed police officers and several plainclothes law enforcement officers, including Aleksandr Pelevin, an informant of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Following the event, some participants had their passports checked by the police, and several women were escorted to police vans for verification. One participant of the demonstration stood in a picket. A woman present at the demonstration provided details on how the event unfolded to the Sota media outlet. A woman present at the demonstration informed the Sota media outlet about how the event unfolded.

Activist Paulina Safronova has announced her intention to run for the Moscow City Duma [regional parliament]. According to her, this decision is unrelated to the Put Domoy movement, and her aim is to promote her ideas regarding the return of mobilized soldiers back home. After participating in the laying of flowers at Poklonnaya Hill, Safronova was detained by the police along with her young child, but she was later released.

Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan has published brochures intended for military wives, providing guidance on how they can support their husbands upon their return home.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

On May 6 in Moscow, Pavel, a graduate student, was detained by police officers under the pretext of implementing the "Conscript" plan. He was taken to the Tverskoy draft office, where authorities demanded he present a military draft deferral.

On May 6 in Moscow, under the pretext of implementing the "Conscript" plan, police officers detained Pavel, a graduate student, and took him to the Tverskoy draft office, where they demanded to present a military draft deferral. When Pavel attempted to call his father to describe the situation, a draft office employee stated that using the phone was prohibited, while she herself started recording the events on her phone. Simultaneously, another draft office employee approached Pavel from behind and began to choke him. As a result, Pavel was taken away by Rosgvardia [the Russian National Guard] officers, allegedly for resisting. Before this, he was forced to sign unknown documents. Subsequently, Pavel was taken to a police station and fined for minor hooliganism.

Four Indian citizens have been arrested on suspicion of deceiving their compatriots. They lured fellow Indians to Russia under false pretenses of employment or study, only to enlist them in the war with Ukraine. Victims were promised high salaries and Russian citizenship, with assurances that they would not be required to bear arms. However, upon arrival in Russia, the victims had their passports confiscated, were sent to training camps, and were coerced into frontline deployment under threat of imprisonment.

Authorities in Tatarstan have introduced one-time sign-up bonuses for volunteer fighters, amounting to 360,000 rubles [$3,920], upon signing a contract with the regional Batyr battalion, which will be formed in the Samara region, as well as existing ones like Alga and Timer. Similarly, in Bashkortostan, the administration of the city of Kumertau has announced an additional municipal payment of 100,000 rubles [$1,090] upon signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense.

Authorities in several regions have announced that during the May holidays, contract military service recruitment facilities will be operating day and night.

The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel has posted a reminder stating that students with a deferral from statutory military service cannot be conscripted until an official order for their dismissal from an educational institution, including due to successful completion of studies, is issued. This means that the deferral extends beyond the end of studies until such an order is issued. Additionally, students have the option to extend their deferral until Aug. 31 of the current year, taking advantage of "vacation periods," during which draft offices cannot summon students for procedures related to military service conscription.

It has come to light that Dmitry Levinsky, the former head of the construction department of the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject], aged 55, went to war from a penal colony. In July 2023, he was sentenced to nine years in a maximum-security penal colony and fined 15 million rubles [$163,500] for embezzling 353 million rubles [$3.85 million] during the construction of a zoo. In April 2024, while still in prison, he signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense. Just a week later, he was deployed to the frontline and has since been wounded.

The authorities in the Nizhny Novgorod region have announced the conscription of over 200 individuals, as part of their plan to conscript more than 3,000 people from the region in total.

Mobilized Soldiers, Volunteer Fighters and Contract Soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Vitaly Kornoukhov from the Astrakhan region, Yevgeny Inzheyev from Kalmykia, Viktor Poplavsky from the Rostov region, Arsen Butonaev from Khakassia [Russia’s constituent republic], Batraz Dzabiev from Republic of North Ossetia–Alania [Russia's constituent republic], Yuri Yunyazov from the Kaluga region, Maksim Meshkov from Saint Petersburg, Yevgeny Bredikhin from the Belgorod region, Ilya Patrikeev from the Moscow region, Aleksey Osokin from the Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject], Valentin Popov from the Vologda region, Aleksandr Soshnikov from the Tula region, Vladimir Moschenko from the Smolensk region, Dmitry Anisimov from the Khabarovsk region, Maksim Sorokin from the Vladimir region and Yevgeny Ivanov from Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic].

It was also reported by SOTA that Aleksandr Antonovsky, a lawyer from Saint Petersburg, was killed on the frontline. He had volunteered to the war in 2023. According to the SOTA’s tally, Antonovsky is at least the ninth lawyer to have been killed since the start of the invasion.

According to Astra, Maksim Potehin, a mobilized soldier from the Moscow region, is being held in an illegal basement for refuseniks in the village of Zaitseve. He was arrested along with his fellow servicemen by the military police for an alleged murder of their commanding officer.

Lyudmila Romanova, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Vladimir region, reported receiving daily complaints from participants in the war with Ukraine and their relatives. These complaints primarily concern the absence of survivor benefits and death gratuity payments.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has forecasted a record high in aggravated crimes for the first time in 15 years in 2024. The number could increase by 7% and exceed 152,000 incidents—a forecast discovered by Vyorstka in a report by the Ministry's Research Institute about the state of crime in Russia in 2023. If this prediction holds true, the number of aggravated crimes will reach a peak unseen in at least the last 15 years. Factors contributing to this crime wave include the potential tightening of sanctions, the "acute conflict situation" in Ukraine, the return of ex-convicts from the war, an increase in the "black market" for weapons, poverty, indebtedness among Russians, as well as the activities of the Put Domoy movement, "controlled by foreign intelligence services," and Alexei Navalny’s death.

In April 2024, Russian courts received 52 cases of "justification of terrorism"—the highest number of cases in one month since at least 2018, as reported by the Agentstvo media outlet. In 2018, 93 individuals were convicted under this charge, and in 2023, the number rose to 416. The media outlet noted that after the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the article on "justification of terrorism" expanded to include anti-war Russians. This increase in cases may also be attributed to authorities considering attacks on the occupied territories of Ukraine as acts of terror.

According to the Pervy Otdel [First Department] human rights group, 2023 marked a record year for the number of people convicted of treason: 39 individuals were found guilty, which is twice as many as in 2022 (16) and almost 10 times more than in 2013 (4). Slightly more than a third were sentenced to 10 to 15 years of imprisonment, while another third received 5 to 8 years in penal colonies.

In the Belgorod region, a 15-year-old teenager was subjected to sexualized abuse by Aleksey Gonchar-Bysh, an ex-convict and recidivist, who returned from the war. According to lawyer Vladimir Sazonov, on April 20, the military man assaulted the 15-year-old boy from the village of Prokhorovka, threatening him with massacre and accompanied by sexualized abuse. The 33-year-old man also threatened the boy's father with a gun. The victim's parents filed a police report against Gonchar-Bysh, however, he was not arrested—the Investigative Committee, to which the police transferred the case documents, stated that it was "not their jurisdiction" and returned the case back. The lawyer claims that Gonchar-Bysh will return to the combat zone on May 10. Previously, the man had been convicted twice.

Residents of Petrozavodsk have lodged complaints about the inappropriate behavior of Dmitry Evdokimov, who returned from the war: he waved a knife and tried to set fire to his neighbors' property. Prior to his military service, Evdokimov had a history of violent offenses. He had previously served a 14-year sentence for murdering his brother, a crime committed after nearly a decade in prison for the murder of a girl. Upon receiving reports from concerned neighbors, the police intervened and apprehended Evdokimov. He was subsequently taken to a drug treatment center, where he confessed to using illegal substances. Subsequently, the troublemaker was released.

The Southern District Military Court has reduced the sentence for contract soldier Dmitry Murzin, who detonated a grenade in a garage where he and his comrades were locked up for drunkenness. Unable to reach their command, Murzin placed a grenade on the door and hid with others who were locked up. When three comrades approached the garage to deliver sleeping bags and cigarettes, they inadvertently triggered the explosion, resulting in injuries. Initially, Murzin was sentenced to eight years for illegal possession of an explosive device and causing both light and severe bodily harm. However, the district court revised the crime's classification to unintentional grievous bodily harm and reduced the sentence to six years and nine months in a penal colony.

A court in Novosibirsk has sentenced Private Vladimir Vysotsky to five years in a penal colony for desertion. According to investigators, in December 2022, Vysotsky left his unit and was in hiding for almost a year, working unofficially. In November 2023, he voluntarily surrendered himself at the draft office. Although Vysotsky faced a potential maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison, the court opted for the minimum penalty.

The Moscow Garrison Military Court has placed 24-year-old Dmitry Antipov on the federal wanted list. Antipov, who served as a contract sailor in Sakhalin, alleges that his signature on the contract was forged. Although his contract expired before the start of mobilization, the command delayed his discharge and ultimately refused it, threatening to send him to the frontline. Subsequently, Antipov left the unit with his wife. Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] provides a detailed account of his story.

The Polish Border Guard has detained a 41-year-old Russian national who illegally crossed the border from Belarus. Border guards suspect the detainee to be a deserter who fled from the frontline. According to the Polish RMF24 media outlet, the man was carrying a written contract with the Russian Army, was not armed and was dressed in civilian clothes.

The Adygea [Russia’s constituent republic] court has found a local guilty of attempting to enlist in the "Freedom of Russia Legion" while serving a sentence in a penal colony. He has been sentenced to nine years in a maximum security penal colony for participation in armed conflict which contradicts the interests of the Russian Federation. According to the prosecution, in the summer of 2022, the convict allegedly swore allegiance to the "Legion" and actively sought recruits among fellow inmates. He was apprehended after being released from the penal colony.

According to Astra, a resident of the occupied village of Yuvileine in the Kherson region is accused of "public calls for activities against the security of the state" due to a post on Facebook. Law enforcement officers found a message from August 2023 containing payment card information belonging to a Ukrainian volunteer collecting funds for Ukrainian soldiers. Natalia S., 51, a native of the Kherson region with Russian citizenship, is currently under travel restrictions.

Astra has also reported that a 30-year-old resident of Kerch, Crimea, K. Simonov, has been detained. According to law enforcement officers, Simonov was recruited by Ukrainian special services and allegedly was preparing to blow up a railroad track. A criminal case has been initiated for an attempted terrorist attack.

Children and Victory Day

In Russian schools and technical schools, the Immortal Regiment event took place. According to the methodological guidelines of the Ministry of Education, children attended the event with portraits of participants of the Great Patriotic War, and teachers organized for parades and processions. Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty online media outlet] provides insights into how this event unfolded in the Volga region, while Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty online media outlet] covers several actions in Siberia. Explore how the Immortal Regiment transitioned from a popular commemorative event to a mandatory state occasion glorifying war in the Vyorstka article.

In observance of Victory Day, several “Preschool Troop Parades” took place across Russia. In the Volgograd region, young children donned cardboard costumes resembling tanks and ships, while preschoolers from kindergarten No. 34 in the town of Yeysk in the Krasnodar region marched through the streets wearing military uniforms and carrying mock weapons.

In the city of Ussuriysk, kindergarten No. 67 unveiled a display titled "Russia is Proud of You," dedicated to those who were killed in the war in Ukraine. The event, held on May 7, was attended by the wives, mothers and children of the deceased.

In Miass, a city in the Chelyabinsk region, a Victory Day morning event at one of the city's kindergartens was attended by Sergey Nechayev, a war veteran with a criminal record that includes charges of murder and theft.