mobilization briefs
November 24, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Nov. 22-23, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The Federation Council [upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] has approved the draft budget for 2024 and its record military spending. Despite the introduction of nearly 800 amendments, spending on the war against Ukraine will take up a third of the budget. The share reaches 40% if spending on "national security" is included. Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] describes what has changed in the final version of the draft budget and how even the most timid of objections against militarization of state spending have been ignored. Moreover, spending on the annexed regions and the salaries of the security forces will also increase.

The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] Committee on State Building and Legislation expressed its support for a bill to hold volunteer fighters serving in Ukraine accountable for crimes against military service.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

While rounding up conscripts, law enforcement officers detained 24-year-old pacifist Aleksandr Sigarie. The young man was later served a draft notice. The mother of Andrey Lebedev, a Moscow State University student who was detained earlier, said both young men were taken to a military collection point. Their conscription took less than a day and did not include the statutory evaluation by a medical board, she added. Subsequently, the Astra Telegram channel reported that a vehicle of the Ministry of Emergency Situations took Lebedev to an unknown location on the evening of Nov. 22, most likely to the base of a military unit. Aleksandr Sigarie and another young man, Pavel Chernyaykov, were still at the military collection point. Furthermore, sources of the Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel indicated that one more student had been detained at Moscow State University on Nov. 23. His name has not been disclosed at the time of this writing.

Advertisements for the "new regiment of the Moscow region" are circulating in social media groups and Telegram channels associated with Moscow region authorities. Those who sign a contract are promised 1 million rubles [$11,300] as a sign-up bonus and a "whole list of special conditions," as well as training with "experienced instructors." The advertisement in the Telegram channel notes that applications can only be submitted until Nov. 25, and in the VKontakte social network group—until Dec. 1.

A military commissar in one of the districts of the Ryazan region has offered local residents to "improve their financial situation" by signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense. According to the commissar, upon signing the contract, the subject will receive a federal payment of 195,000 rubles [$2,200], a regional payment of 200,000 rubles [$2,260], as well as a deployment allowance equivalent to three salaries.

The former mayor of the city of Vladivostok, Oleg Gumenyuk, sentenced to 12 years for corruption, has signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense and joined the war effort. In January 2023, the court sentenced him to 16.5 years in prison for accepting bribes totaling 38 million rubles [$430,000], later reduced to a 12-year prison term.

The mayor of Yakutsk, Yevgeny Grigoryev, announced that free food packages for the families of the war participants have been distributed to 1725 addresses in the city. This means that more than 2% of conscription-age men from the city's population of 187,000 are involved in the war.

In the Irkutsk region, two banners were placed side by side near one of the highways: "Caution! Scammers! Don't let yourself be deceived!" and "Contract-based military service." The Govorit NeMoskva Telegram channel [independent media outlet] compiled examples of the "inappropriate neighborhood" of regular advertising and contract service ads.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

Relatives of mobilized soldiers came to the office of the United Russia party in Saint Petersburg to demand the return of their men home. They are also seeking the creation of a regional working group, meetings with deputies and Governor Beglov, permission to hold a rally for the return of the mobilized, and discussion of this issue at Putin’s press conference.

As calculated by the Vyorstka media outlet, out of 30 cities and regions where the relatives of mobilized soldiers united, only seven filed applications for rallies; five of them were rejected, and the status of the other two is unknown. At least another 13 regions did not file applications for rallies. A third of the links to regional Telegram chats where relatives united are already inactive.

The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel published an interview with Maria Andreeva from Moscow, one of the participants in the protest of the wives of mobilized soldiers. According to her, the women still intend to picket, although many of them fear arrests. Earlier, the Tverskoy District Court in Moscow rejected the appeal against the Moscow mayor's ban on the rally.

Following the "closed meeting" on Nov. 19, the relatives of mobilized men from Novosibirsk claimed that specialists were already working on a resolution they had handed to officials. While it was not specified what assistance would be provided, it was noted that "an honest dialogue with the authorities" had taken place and that those "who were not afraid to come forward" received targeted assistance, "which is being addressed on a high-priority basis." Meanwhile, the governor of the Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject], Oleg Kozhemyako, met with the relatives of servicemen who recently shipped new aid to the frontline. At the meeting, Kozhemyako announced support measures for the families of servicemen and the soldiers themselves upon their return to civilian life. It is worth noting that earlier Vyorstka reported that the presidential administration considers the dissatisfaction of the mobilized men’s relatives to be one of the most pressing issues of the presidential campaign and has recommended that regional officials "quell protests [of mobilized men’s relatives] with money."

In Chuvashia [Russia's constituent republic], the wife of a mobilized man was pushed to defend herself on national television over comments she made on TV Rain [an independent Russian television channel], where she talked about being ready to go to a rally. She stated that her words had been taken out of context and presented as a negative sentiment toward the "special military operation."

Mobilized soldiers, volunteer fighters and contract soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Rustam Husainov from the Orenburg region and Dmitry Smorodsky from the Tyumen region.

Olga Katz, an activist for the return of the mobilized men and the admin of the Vernyom Rebyat [Let's Bring Our Boys Back] Telegram channel with 30,000 subscribers, has reported the death of her mobilized brother, Aleksandr Ergin. Katz has created a petition demanding the establishment of time limits for the mobilized men's service in the war. She has consciously distanced herself from war opponents and opposition figures, calling for dialogue with the authorities. According to another post by Katz, she plans to step back from the struggle to bring the mobilized soldiers home.

Roskomnadzor [Russia's internet censorship agency] blocked the Dozor [the Watch] website with a list of residents of the Volgograd region who died in the war. This happened after the death toll from the region exceeded 1,000 people. Additionally, the website of the Novaya Vkladka [New Tab] media outlet was blocked after it refused to delete the news about forced mobilization in Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic].

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet reported that Denis Gorin, a resident of the Sakhalin region previously sentenced to 22 years in a maximum security penal colony for murder and cannibalism, has been released and joined the war. A month ago, a new photo of the man in military uniform appeared on social media. The ex-convict was injured, and he is currently hospitalized in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Earlier it was reported about the pardon of a member of the satanic cult gang from Yaroslavl.

In Moscow, a military court sentenced Murad Askerov, the commander of a motorized rifle platoon, to five years’ probation for going AWOL. In April 2023, the participant in the invasion of Ukraine went AWOL after returning from captivity through an exchange. On June 6, he voluntarily returned to his unit. The court handed down such a lenient sentence because Askerov promised to return to the frontline.

The Supreme Court confirmed the right of mobilized Alexander Mushumansky to pursue alternative civilian service. Initially engaged in alternative civilian service, he was drafted to a military unit, where he refused to take up arms and take the oath, and contested the mobilization in court. The court of first instance deemed it illegal, the appellate and cassation instances agreed with this decision. On Nov. 23, the Supreme Court declared alternative civilian service possible during mobilization, citing the inconsistency of the law on mobilization with the Constitution.

In Tyumen, two young men have been arrested in connection with the locomotive arson case. The SHOT Telegram channel reports an arson incident involving the signaling cabinet on the railway section between Domodedovo and Belye Stolby. Several trains were delayed for an hour and a half as a result of the incident. Another act of arson on railway equipment occurred in Novosibirsk, where unidentified individuals set fire to a relay cabinet on the railway section between Kleshchikha and Chemskaya stations.

In the Tula region, Vladislav Sh. has been detained on suspicion of arson of railway equipment. According to investigators, in early November, he set fire to a relay cabinet in the Uzlovsky district. A criminal case has been initiated against him for intentional destruction of property.

A Moldovan citizen was apprehended during an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to the draft office in Volokolamsk. A criminal case has been opened against him for an act of terror.

Novaya Gazeta Europe [European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta] published the closing words of Yegor Balazeykin, who was sentenced to six years in a correctional colony for attempting to set fire to draft offices.

A resident of Pskov was sentenced to five and a half years in a maximum security penal colony for treason. According to the security forces, the accused planned to join the Ukrainian Kraken unit. The name of the convicted is not disclosed, and the trial was held behind closed doors.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) reported the arrest of an "agent of the Ukrainian intelligence services" in Voronezh. The arrested allegedly planned an act of terror against a high-ranking Ministry of Defense official, using a bicycle and a food delivery uniform as disguises. The FSB claims to have confiscated an improvised explosive device and a fake Russian passport.

The lawyer of Aleksandr Demidenko, a volunteer who helped Ukrainian refugees, refuted information about the initiation of a new criminal case against her client on charges of treason.

The OVD-Info independent human rights project made a dataset of politically motivated criminal prosecutions in Russia public. The dataset will be updated regularly.

Assistance

In response to the complaints of military personnel about mice and rats, volunteers from Buryatia sent several packages of the Rat Death No. 1 poison and rodent traps for to the frontline.

Governor of the Krasnodar region Veniamin Kondratyev instructed to develop a regional program to support participants and veterans of the "special military operation." Meanwhile, in the Rostov region, from the beginning of 2024, the relatives of war participants will be able to compensate half of the utility costs for one living space. The number of potential beneficiaries is 32,800 people.

Longreads

The European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta interviewed a relative of one of the victims of Satanist Nikolay Ogolobyak from the city of Yaroslavl, who was pardoned after participating in the war. The young woman told journalists how she felt about Ogolobyak’s release from the penal colony.