Mobilization in Russia for May 8–9, 2023 CIT volunteer summary
Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising
Authorities used the Victory Day celebration sites to advertise contract military service. Thus, in Saint Petersburg, a pop-up selection point appeared in the Palace Square. In Novosibirsk, a campaign called “Contract Military Service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation: Your Choice!” was conducted: a selection point was set up in the Pervomaysky Square where Governor Andrey Travnikov addressed the crowd urging people to go fight in the war. Mobile selection points for contract military service were deployed in Ufa, Chita, Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Tyumen, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Omsk, and other cities.
Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters
A new name has been added to the list of mobilized men killed in the war — Viktor Feld from the Omsk region.
According to the count by journalists working for Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet], the number of combat veterans in Russia grew by almost 50 thousand people since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. This is the most significant increase in the last three years. Before the invasion, 10 to 15 thousand people per year received the official combat veteran status. In 2018 and 2019, the increases were comparable (71 and 50 thousand people, respectively) because Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] and Federal Bailiff Service members who had been in hotspots could apply for the combat veteran status. Even though authorities allowed Ukraine war participants to apply for combat veteran status almost immediately following the invasion, obtaining the status is difficult. Moreover, veterans who refused to participate in the war in Ukraine were threatened with revocation of their veteran status. Those successful in being certified as combat veterans are eligible for a monthly allowance of 3,896 rubles [about $50] as of Feb. 2023: this is how much Russia is willing to pay those who risked their lives. In addition to the monetary allowance, veterans are eligible for various benefits including reimbursement for transportation, housing and utilities expenses, increased retirement pension, and subsidies for housing and prosthetic devices. In reality, however, it is difficult to obtain these benefits.
A memorial honoring those who were killed in the war in Ukraine has been installed in the Irkutsk region. It is dedicated to three graduates of the Nizhneudinsk technical college: Nikita Tsurkan, Andrey Konushkin and Fyodor Bakhteyev. The memorial has been placed near the monument to graduates who lost their lives during the Great Patriotic War [1941–1945].
In Nizhny Tagil [Sverdlovsk region], steles with the names of 22 soldiers killed in the "special military operation" zone were unveiled today. They were added to the existing Brod v Neizvestnost [Ford into the Unknown] memorial, originally established in remembrance of those who were killed in Afghanistan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the North Caucasus. The ceremony was attended by soldiers’ relatives.
Sentences, Legal Proceedings, and Incidents
Oleg Sofyanik, a Sevastopol activist and human rights defender, has claimed to possess information about the identity of a Sevastopol resident who had been detained by the FSB [Federal Security Service of Russia] last year on suspicion of plotting to ignite a fuel and lubricants depot in the city. According to Sofyanik, this was 21-year-old Andrey Yenyukov. In August 2022, Yenyukov was detained and placed in a pre-trial detention center, where, according to his relatives, he was tortured. He was also accused of planning to set fire to the “humanitarian aid center for Donbas refugees.” Yenyukov is currently awaiting trial in Rostov-on-Don and may face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
A relay cabinet has been destroyed by a fire in the Saratov region as a result of arson on the Pokrovsk — Anisovka rail line in the Engels district. Unknown persons made a fire next to the equipment, opened the cabinet door using a metal object, doused it with a flammable liquid and used it to create a path to the fire. Reportedly, despite the fire, there were no delays in the train schedule, since passenger trains do not run on this line. At the moment, there have been no arrests.
Aid and children
Journalists from the Novaya Vkladka [New Tab] independent media outlet discovered that in the village of Priargunsk in the Zabaykalsky region, border guards are forced to contribute 2–3 thousand rubles from each paycheck toward the war. Contract soldiers interviewed by journalists consider this amount "affordable" (the average salary of border guards is 50–55 thousand rubles). The money is collected by a "specially appointed person", who then passes it on to local volunteers. After that, they purchase drones in online stores per requests of military men from the front and send them to the frontline.
Fire in Verkny Ufaley in the Chelyabinsk region left a family, in which the father and eldest son are now at war in Ukraine, homeless. A mother with three minor children was sheltered by a friend, but the woman has nowhere to go next. Authorities have provided no information about assistance with the provision of housing.
In Troitsk, Chelyabinsk region, a Veteran of War medal was awarded to a 4-year-old girl in lieu of her father, a volunteer fighter killed in June 2022 in the war in Ukraine. Retired Colonel Sergey Tauzhanov, who heads the local branch of "Boyevoe Bratstvo" [Combat Brotherhood, an All-Russian non-profit organization of veterans of local wars and military conflicts], invited the child on stage during the town commemoration of war veterans named "Znanie. Geroi" [Knowledge. Heroes]. In his speech, he entreated her to remember the day.
A second delivery point was opened in Starobilsk, "LPR," for parcels addressed to participants of the "special military operation" from the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region [federal subject of Russia]. Earlier, such a delivery point had been set up in Makiivka.
In Novosibirsk, soldiers fired a "patriotic" gun salute within the city to celebrate Victory Day. Residents filmed the cannon fire on Ippodromskaya Street near the Aura mall. On the video, the soldiers are heard shouting "three hundred and three" [order to fire], before discharging their artillery pieces in the direction of the mall from the roadway. According to Governor Andrey Travnikov, 1,500 patriotic events took place in the region to celebrate Victory Day.
In the Kurgan region, the military parade and firework were canceled due to numerous residents dying in wildfires. Dozens of settlements are ablaze in the region. The causes and scale of destruction are not yet known. A Soviet Banner of Victory, however, appeared on May 9 in the village of Yuldus, where the death toll from ongoing wildfires was highest. It was planted directly in the ashes.
In the Primorsky region, war veterans received 5,000 rubles each to mark the 78th anniversary of the victory. The same amount was paid to former prisoners of concentration camps and other places of detention. Widows and widowers of disabled people and participants of the Great Patriotic War received even less — 3,000 rubles each.
At a concert in honor of Victory Day in Chita, the dance group "Zabaykalskiye Uzory" performed a song dedicated to the Wagner Group.
The Sirena Telegram channel published a material about how Victory Day was celebrated in Russia this year. In many cities, traditional parades and processions of the Immortal Regiment were canceled, and the main event on Red Square was meager: the parade lasted only 45 minutes, and only seven different units of equipment were displayed. Instead of festivities, other "patriotic" entertainment was invented for Russians, such as mass push-ups.
Journalists from Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] also prepared a review of how Victory Day was celebrated in Russia in 2023. Videos showed "preschool parades," "patriotic" songs on buses and trams, the Immortal Regiment swim, and other forms of "patriotic activity."
Overall, the Russian authorities spent over one billion rubles on events related to Victory Day this year. The most funds in government procurement were allocated to cultural and mass events — tournaments, parades, and other activities. A lot of money also went into decorating cities and subsequent dismantling of decorations. Part of the funds was spent on gifts and souvenirs.
A petition "Save Igor Sandzhiev" was posted on change.org. We wrote about Sandzhiev's story, whom the authorities of Kazakhstan were planning to deport to Russia, in one of our previous summaries.