mobilization briefs
November 4

Mobilization in Russia for Nov. 2-3, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The Ministry of Defense drafted a regulation amendment, which would accelerate the return to duty of contract soldiers serving in the Russian Airborne Troops after an injury. The full text of the amendment has not been published, but its description states that "examinations of servicemen […] to determine their category of fitness for a given military specialty are unnecessary" after they are released from hospital.

The federal government started the "special military registration" of convicts serving sentences in correctional facilities. The Ministry of Defense had proposed the corresponding amendments on Sept. 6. As a result, a paragraph explicitly excluding convicts has been removed from the regulation on military registration. Draft offices near penal colonies and pre-trial detention centers will now handle the convicts’ military registration. The "special military registration" requires neither a personal visit to a draft office, nor medical or psychological examinations when adding or removing convicts from military rolls.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Following similar moves in the Perm, Yaroslavl and Novosibirsk regions, the Wagner Group is resuming recruitment in Omsk. The NGS55 local news portal got the information from former mercenaries who were invited to sign new contracts. Unlike other regions, however, whose residents are offered contracts with Rosgvardia [the Russian National Guard], Omsk residents are invited to conclude a six-month contract with the Ministry of Defense. The branch in Chita is also recruiting mercenaries, although only individuals "who have already taken part in the "special military operation" with the private military company" can apply at this time.

Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] reported on how the Transneft company recruited and equipped its employees for the war, primarily men aged 40-50 from remote regions. The BARS-20 volunteer battalion, consisting of Transneft employees, was formed in the summer of 2022, approximately a month before mobilization. While they went to the war as volunteer fighters, relatives claim that it was the company that made them the offer. Many of them ended up on the frontlines almost without training and proper gear and got killed within a few months.

The government of the Vladimir region reported the deployment of another volunteer to the war in Ukraine, this time a citizen of Uzbekistan named Ramazan. In June, regional authorities had already sent a foreigner, Yuldash Vutke from Tajikistan, to the frontline. Governor of the region Alexandr Avdeyev had previously talked about recruiting foreign citizens for the war in Ukraine, stating that they would receive Russian citizenship for their participation.

The Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel reported that military commissars are calling Russian men, threatening to declare them wanted or take legal action if they do not come to the military commissariat [enlistment office] before the date specified in the draft notice. Legal experts point out that such calls have no legal force.

In Moscow, a Moscow State University student with cancer was detained near his home, forcibly taken to a police station, and held there for transfer to the draft office, with threats of drawing up a hooliganism protocol. The young man was then taken to the draft office, where he was released after a few hours with a summons for medical examination.

The military commissariat has denied a request from a journalist from the Sota media outlet, who left Russia over a year ago, for remote military service deregistration. The commissariat was unsatisfied with passport page photographs featuring exit stamps and scanned outbound tickets. The journalist was demanded to visit the commissariat in person with the relevant documents.

The Voyennye Advokaty (Military Lawyers) Telegram channel community analyzes myths surrounding contract-based military service while reminding readers of the conditions under which a contract can be terminated during the ongoing mobilization: due to age, health conditions, or the entry into legal force of a court sentence imposing a punishment in the form of imprisonment.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Dmitry Klyukin from the Perm region [Russia's federal subject], along with Pavel Afanasyev and Innokenty Unagaev from Buryatia [a constituent republic of Russia]. Also added to the list were Aleksey Semyonov from the Irkutsk region and Mikhail Saratovtsev, Maksim Zainullin, Dmitry Lebedev, and Eduard Avetisyan from the Volgograd region.

Based on open sources, Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, in collaboration with volunteers, have verified the names of 35,780 Russian fighters, including 4,232 mobilized soldiers, killed in the war with Ukraine. In the last two weeks, the list has grown by 923, including 176 mobilized soldiers.

The Military Lawyers Committee [city of Vladimir] Telegram channel claims that military personnel who come under attack in the war with Ukraine are increasingly being diagnosed with conditions other than concussion or brain injury, and these diagnoses are being replaced with different ones. This practice is emerging because military personnel are entitled to a payout of 3 million rubles [$32,704] in the case of a concussion. More often, military doctors are giving them a diagnosis of "asthenic condition," which does not entitle them to receive the payout.

Wives and mothers of mobilized soldiers from Novorossiysk have recorded a video address to the president. According to these women, the mobilized soldiers of the 108th Air Assault Regiment have not been granted their legally mandated leaves for over a year. For the last three months, these mobilized soldiers have been continuously stationed at the frontlines. Many have been killed, and the wounded are not being sent for treatment. Local authorities convinced them not to release a video recorded back in September, promising to address the leave issue. However, instead of granting leaves, draftees received a response stating that, due to the "complex and tense" situation on the frontline, leaves will not be granted.

The Astra Telegram channel has learned of another prisoner who was held in an illegal prison in the village of Zaitseve for over one and a half months. Elshan, previously reported by Astra, and his fellow soldier Ramis were nearing the end of their contract terms. Instead of being withdrawn from the combat zone, they were first placed in a "refusenik" basement and then sent as assault troops to the 25th Brigade, known among soldiers as the "brigade of death" due to the harsh treatment by their commanders. Ramis's wife, Kristina, claims that her husband was taken from the hospital on the pretext of having "supposedly assaulted someone," but she asserts that there are no witnesses or evidence to support this alleged assault.

Kirill from Krasnoyarsk, a mobilized soldier, who had been living in a military unit for a year due to serious health problems, was forcibly taken to a military airport and put on a plane. He managed to inform journalists about this before losing contact with them. The promised medical evaluation board, which was supposed to be conducted after the journalists' appeal, was never carried out.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In Moscow, the 517th Military Investigation Department opened a criminal case against 23-year-old Dmitry Antipov, a native of Penza, for going AWOL. His lawyer Maksim Grebenyuk, creator of the Voyenny Ombudsmen [Military Ombudsman] project, told Mediazona that the soldier did not sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense—his signature was forged. Antipov entered the army in 2020 and served for two years without signing a contract. When his service term ended, the command refused to release him, citing mobilization and referring to a contract he had not signed. Antipov took his case to court, where it was revealed that someone had signed the contract on his behalf two weeks before he arrived at the unit. Believing that the fraudulent document had no legal force, the soldier returned home. He is now arrested on charges of going AWOL and faces up to ten years in a penal colony.

The Krasnoyarsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced serviceman Maksim Gorokhov to five years in a penal settlement for going AWOL. In April, Gorokhov escaped from his military unit and went to Krasnoyarsk. At the end of May, he voluntarily turned himself in to the commandant's office.

Sergey Okrushko, responsible for the explosion at the Samara oil refinery on July 28, is now facing additional charges related to manufacture and possession of explosive substances. New information has surfaced regarding certain boxes confiscated from Okrushko, which were not previously mentioned in the case. Human rights activists were unable to reach Okrushko, and the pre-trial detention center staff did not allow lawyers to visit him.

Children

The governor of the Vladimir region has announced the opening of a full-time camp for "patriotic education of children and youth" in an abandoned building of a former military unit in the village of Sokol.

Assistance

Employees of Gazprom Transgas Yugorsk [gas-transport enterprise, a subsidiary of Gazprom] are being asked to donate one day's salary to support participants in the war with Ukraine. Meanwhile, in the Tambov region, in response to a call from the regional governor, Maksim Egorov, employees of both the city administration and the Uvarovsky district administration have also contributed one day's salary to support the needs of the frontline.

Teachers from Maloarkhangelsk Secondary School in the Zabaykalsky region [Russia’s federal subject] have sent 29 portions of salted pork to soldiers in the war.

Aleksandr Buistov, a pro-war volunteer from the town of Gus-Khrustalny in the Vladimir region, who is providing assistance to participants in the war with Ukraine, has expressed his concern that the Ministry of Defense does not provide the army with the necessary medications. Buistov also laments the shortage of volunteers.

Miscellaneous

There is an acute shortage of doctors in Russia's regions, in part because many medical professionals choose to work in the "special military operation" zone due to extremely low salaries in their home regions. To encourage medical workers to sign contracts, they are offered a sign-up bonus equivalent to four times their regular salary.

Longreads

A correspondent of the Cherta media outlet traveled by train from one of the Caucasian republics towards Ukraine and wrote an article about people whose lives have been deeply affected by the war.

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet studied Novosibirsk cemeteries where mercenaries of the Wagner Group are buried. From December 2022 to July 2023, at least 368 mercenaries were buried in the city's Gusinobrodskoye cemetery. In total, residents from 27 Russian regions are buried in Novosibirsk, with half of them having a previous criminal record. The average age of the dead is 38 years old.