mobilization briefs
November 13, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Nov. 10-12, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Saint Petersburg residents subject to conscription have been receiving SMS text messages summoning them to the draft office. Now, the messages include threats that "draft dodgers" will be reported to Storozhevoy Control, a surveillance database created formally to "fight extremism," but used in practice to monitor civic activists and opposition politicians. Legally, authorities cannot add conscripts to this database. However, human rights activists, who created the Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel, describe instances, when the police detained young men and delivered them to a draft office, saying they were listed in the database. Read more about this and other draft office stratagems in the report compiled by the Sever.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet.

The Free Yakutia Telegram channel published a video recording of a closed-door session of the government of Russia’s constituent Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) on contract soldier recruitment. Dated Sept. 2023, the recording shows Aleksandr Avdonin, Military Commissar for Yakutia, communicating to each district head their recruitment targets. For example, the Ust-Aldansky district has until the end of the year to send off 176 individuals to war, but only 36 have signed contracts so far. Yakutsk [capital city of Yakutia] is also falling short, despite reporting the most progress among large cities, having achieved only 33% of its target. Based on the numbers disclosed by the military commissar, it is reasonable to conclude that the authorities are facing significant challenges in recruiting contract soldiers. Andrey Tarasenko, Chairman of the Government of the Republic of Yakutia, has threatened to fire district heads who fail to meet their targets, adding that the drive would continue in 2024 if officials do not recruit enough men until then.

Doctors in the Voronezh region are being urged to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense. They are offered not only a sign-up bonus of 415,000 rubles [$4,500] and a salary of over 170,000 rubles [$1,840], but also "care for their families" (without specifics). At the same time, as we have repeatedly reported in our summaries, many regions are facing a shortage of medical personnel. For example, in the Vladimir region, the shortage of doctors exceeds 900 people, and according to the Ministry of Health estimates, the shortage of doctors in Russia is almost 26,500 specialists.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

In Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic], more soldiers were buried, who were probably killed in the attack on the column of the 1251st Regiment. According to information on social media and posts from relatives of the mobilized, the Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has established the names of ten killed servicemen. In addition to Anatoly Skvortsov, Yevgeny Denisov, Denis Sarakeyev, Viktor Buyandaykin, and Vladimir Orlov, whose funerals we reported earlier, the list includes Eduard Nikitin, Aleksey Alekseyev, Vasily Nikitin, Alkhaz Sadykov, Sergey Ignatyev, and Vladimir Zhukov. Additionally, it has been established that Lieutenant Colonel Albert Vasiliev from Chuvashia was killed as well on Oct. 29, likely also as a result of the attack on the column. Thus, at the moment, the names of 12 servicemen presumably killed in the attack are known.

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Roman Arkhipov from Chuvashia, he was killed on July 21.

Researcher of military burial sites Vitaly Votanovsky has noticed that over the past two months of the war, residents of Novorossiysk have been killed one and a half times more often. He came to this conclusion by tracking the increase in graves in the city cemetery. In total, 98 killed servicemen have been buried in the cemetery, with 16 of them interred in the last 65 days.

The Krasnoyarsk mayor's office used Covid-19 restrictions as a pretext to deny permission for a rally to wives of mobilized men. Not surprisingly, these grounds do not seem to apply when mass gatherings are held by authorities themselves, such as the National Unity Day celebrations organized in Krasnoyarsk last week. The rally was planned to be staged on the city square in front of the Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theater on Nov. 19, with less than 30 protestors intending to participate. In her comment to local news channel NGS24.RU, one of the activists assured that the event was not going to happen should permission fail to be granted by the authorities. She hopes that the ban on the rally will receive extensive media coverage, helping the women to bring their concerns to the federal authorities. Earlier, the Chelyabinsk city administration reached an agreement with the relatives of mobilized soldiers, convincing them to postpone a rally for the return of their loved ones from the frontline. Instead, the women were promised a meeting with military officials and Combat Brotherhood [All-Russian public organization of veterans] representatives. Another application for a protest rally was submitted by the wives of service members in the city of Novosibirsk.

The Put Domoy [Way Home] Telegram channel that brings together relatives of mobilized soldiers campaigning for the rotation and return home of their loved ones, launched a manifesto, demanding a complete demobilization of civilians and a limitation of a maximum length of service under partial mobilization to one year. Other than that, the manifesto promotes the right to freedom of protest and public demonstrations. The activists claim they are ready to support anyone "who brings their men back."

A mother from the Orenburg region is seeking to have her son’s remains exhumed. The woman lost contact with her son as early as in September 2022, even before the mobilization was announced. Apparently, the young man had joined the Wagner Group to fight in Ukraine. The body the woman believes to be her son’s was found buried in the Samara region, and she was told she had to pay 150.000 rubles [$1,630] for it to be exhumed.

The former mayor of Petrozavodsk, Vladimir Lyubarsky, has announced that he is returning from the war in Ukraine because his four-month contract has ended. Lyubarsky participated in the war as part of the Chechen Akhmat unit. On his page on the VKontakte social network, he wrote that he was already on his way home with other soldiers. Some commentators under the post expressed confusion about why Lyubarsky is returning home despite Putin’s statements that contract soldiers and mobilized men will remain on the frontline until the end of the war.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

Vitaly Malykh, a former convict recruited by the Wagner Group to participate in the war in Ukraine, has been sentenced to two years and five months in a maximum security penal colony for extortion of a smartphone. Malykh admitted guilt and pleaded for leniency, but the court considered it a recidivism. The defense deemed the reference to recidivism unjustified, as Malykh had been "pardoned by the president’s decree." However, the court noted that a pardon based on the president’s decree does not mean the removal of a criminal record; it only exempts from serving the sentence, hence this is exactly the case of dangerous recidivism. Before recruitment to Wagner Group, Vitaly Malykh had been sentenced to actual imprisonment for theft.

The military court in Kamchatka sentenced serviceman Kirill Antonov to three years in a penal colony for going AWOL. Antonov did not report to his military unit and was absent from service for an extended period without valid reasons. In June, he was apprehended by the military commandant’s office.

Chairman of the Abakan Garrison Military Court Konstantin Mironov addressed the personnel of one of the military units in Khakassia [Russia’s constituent republic] to "provide detailed information on criminal cases related to unauthorized abandonment by servicemen of their units or duty stations," as well as desertion. Since the start of mobilization, the Abakan Garrison Military Court has reviewed no fewer than 34 criminal cases related to abandonment and none related to desertion.

On the morning of Nov. 11 in the Ryazan region, near the Dyagilevo station close to the town of Rybnoye, authorities reported that "due to the intervention of third parties in the operation of railway transport," 19 cars of a freight train derailed, with 15 of them sustaining damaged. Preliminarily, the assistant train driver (or train driver) suffered minor injuries. Local residents on social media reported hearing a "bang" before the train derailed, while the Russian Railways [Russian fully state-owned railway company] claimed "intervention by third parties." The Shot Telegram channel asserts that there were two improvised explosive devices on the tracks, which detonated when the freight train ran over them. Additionally, Shot, citing a source, reported that those who set up the explosion monitored the train through a camera on a tree, which self-destructed after sabotaging the railroad tracks. Law enforcement in Ryazan has announced an interception plan to catch the saboteurs, and the Investigative Committee has initiated criminal cases for "act of terror" and "unlawful acquisition and possession of explosive devices." As noted by the Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] Telegram channel, this is the first sabotage with a train derailment on a railway so close to Moscow.

In Kolomna, a 23-year-old man was detained on suspicion of preparing to set fire to a military unit. It is claimed that the detainee "walked around the facility and photographed it, trying to do so unnoticed." During the search, Molotov cocktails were allegedly found on him, and there was correspondence with "Ukrainian curators" on his computer.

In the Dmitrovsky district of the Moscow region, two young men, 19-year-old Matvey M. and 18-year-old Yury M., have been detained. They are suspected of trespassing onto the territory of a military unit and collecting information about military vehicles. Criminal proceedings have been initiated against the young men for preparing acts of sabotage, and they could face up to 20 years of imprisonment.

The VChK-OGPU Telegram channel reported, citing its own source, an attempted arson at the military commandant's office in annexed Sevastopol on the evening of Nov. 11. A bottle containing a flammable liquid was thrown at the commandant's office door, but the fire was extinguished by military personnel who subsequently detained the suspected arsonist, a 62-year-old local female resident.


The Yugopolis Telegram channel reports the beginning of a "military-patriotic campaign," inviting residents of Krasnodar to send letters to Russian servicemen participating in the war and congratulate them "on all upcoming holidays."

As part of a grant competition organized by Aleksandr Tsybulsky, Governor of the Arkhangelsk region, a group of women received a grant for making canned borscht [sour soup typical for Ukrainian and Russian cuisine]. Moreover, the ingredients for preparing these dishes are provided free of charge by the owner of a local store, making it unclear what the grant funds are intended for.


As part of "patriotic education," students from the town of Kovrov in the Vladimir region were brought to a rally dedicated to the Day of Military Intelligence. There, amidst freezing weather, children pledged to strive for victory, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and prepare for service and commitment for the benefit of the homeland. Meanwhile, in Ivanovo, an open house was held for members of the special forces of the Federal Penitentiary Service and their families.

The Ministry of Education in Russia recommended that teachers transform all lessons into "Talking About Important Things." Currently, these lessons are held once a week. Officials envision that the content of this course should now be integrated into the entire school curriculum.

In Yakutia, 20 students from the village of Beydinga were forced to harvest ice for the family of a mobilized soldier. Ice in Yakut villages serves as a source of drinking and household water. Additionally, an 8-year-old student from the Orenburg region donated his 1,000 rubles savings [$10.8] to Russian soldiers. In appreciation, the regional authorities rewarded him with a trip to the "homeland of Ded Moroz" [Grandfather Frost].