President Putin has signed the law on Russia's federal budget for 2024-2026. Expenditures on the army and the military-industrial complex are expected to overtake social spending for the first time in the history of the Russian Federation. Read more about the new budget in this article by The Moscow Times.
Putin has also signed a law suspending the indexation of salaries for all government employees except military and security forces. Indexation of government salaries will be suspended for all of 2024. The Russian authorities expect that this will save 36 billion rubles (around $403 million).
The Sota media outlet writes that the Ministry of Defense intends to shorten the list of conditions, which preclude military service. Although the exact wording has yet to be published, the authors of the proposed resolution argue for improvements in the medical evaluation of citizens suffering from conditions, which do not have a significant impact on their ability to perform military service.
The federal government backed a bill to extend a number of social and employment benefits to Rosgvardia [the Russian National Guard] volunteer fighters and members of their families, to match those benefits introduced earlier for mobilized and contract soldiers.
Additionally, the government has issued a resolution according to which the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia, and other government agencies will have the authority to confiscate foreign passports from citizens who are prohibited from leaving the country. Among these categories are citizens with a military service assignment or those who have received draft notices from the military commissariat [enlistment office]. The citizen must personally submit the document either to the issuing authority, the consulate, or the representation of Russia in the country of residence within five working days from receiving the travel restriction notification. The resolution will come into effect on Dec. 11.
As Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] found out, the Española Battalion, a Russian military unit created by former soccer hooligans, has announced the recruitment of women into assault squads for participation in the war with Ukraine. Posts about recruitment and awards are published on the battalion’s Telegram channel. They offer women a six-month contract, with training lasting up to two months before being deployed to a combat zone. During training, they promise payments ranging from 110,000 [$1,120] to 120,000 rubles [$1,350], doubling after deployment to Ukraine. Vazhnyye Istorii notes that Española Battalion is part of the Ministry of Defense-controlled Redut PMC. The Borz Battalion, also part of Redut PMC, previously announced the recruitment of women. Cherta [Boundary] media outlet detailed the story of Española in March 2023, and information about the structure of Redut PMC can be found in a recent publication from the BBC News Russian.
The authorities of Russia’s constituent republic of Chuvashia will additionally spend 45 million rubles [$505,500] from the budget on repairing the recruitment office for contract-based military service. Meanwhile, the director of a Ural dairy plant left for the war due to debts to employees for wages, leading to the cessation of the enterprise’s operations after his departure.
Wives of mobilized soldiers, who run the Put Domoy [Way Home] Telegram channel, are sharing a compilation of photos of cars from different regions with stickers as part of a flash mob against the indefinite mobilization, which we reported on in our previous summary. According to the license plates, the action is taking place in the cities of Barnaul, Izhevsk, Orel, and Cheboksary. In the Ulyanovsk region, wives of mobilized soldiers suggested organizing a car rally with flags, posters, and stickers bearing the slogan "Vерните мужа! Я Zа#балась" ["Return my hubby, I'm sick of this sh*t."] Women conducted a survey to determine the number of those willing to participate.
The Put Domoy Telegram channel has also released another appeal to the authorities. In it, women ask why the authorities are "making enemies out of them" and "shoving stinking benefits and payments instead of bringing back their loved ones." According to the authors of the appeal, they "heard that regional authorities were recommended to quell them with money, nod understandingly, and promise to send requests to the Ministry of Defense." The women also address Putin and Shoigu—in their opinion, the president and the defense minister could "publicly come out and say, <...> when our guys will finally be home."
Another Telegram channel, called Mobilizovannym Pora Domoy [It is Time for the Mobilized to Go Home], which also unites the wives of mobilized soldiers, reported on an action in which women distribute Ministry of Defense's advertisements about enlisting for contract-based military service. Their goal is to help the Ministry of Defense realize its plan to replace mobilized soldiers in the military with volunteer fighters.
The wife of a mobilized soldier, Maria Andreeva, who signed the letter "To the People of Russia," spoke to the Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel about the reasons for the intensification of the women's struggle for the return of their husbands. The woman says she is tired of the authorities' lies and wonders why, contrary to Shoigu's promises, mobilized men are not being replaced by volunteer fighters who have signed contracts with the MoD. In the woman's opinion, the reason lies in the fact that most volunteer fighters are over 50 years old and are not fit for military service due to their poor health.
The list of Russian mobilized men killed in the war has been updated to include Andrey Sarandi from the Yaroslavl region, Danil Dvoyeglazov from Bashkiria [Russia's constituent republic], Vladimir Mysovskiy from the North Ossetia–Alania [Russia's constituent republic], Artyom Tarasevich from the Krasnodar region, Viktor Mironov from the Stavropol region, Nikolay Ryabinin from the Perm region, Sergey Filyakov from the Orenburg region, Aleksey Panchenko from the Belgorod region and Semyon Lukin from the Novgorod region.
Russian soldiers serving with the 394th Regiment on the Zaporizhzhia axis reveal that the wounded are not being evacuated while the military command is extorting money from the lower-ranking personnel. According to the soldiers, they are being thrown into assault missions poorly trained and without artillery support. In exchange for not being sent into attacks, the command allegedly demands 90,000 rubles [$1,010] from each serviceman. Moreover, the command prohibits the soldiers from retreating from the positions, making no efforts to evacuate the wounded from the frontline.
Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] describes how a young convict from Siberia, diagnosed with a developmental delay and unable to read and write, was recruited by the Ministry of Defense to fight in the war against Ukraine. Semyon Karmanov had been sentenced to two years and one month in a penal colony after having found a cellphone with two bank cards in its case and having used the cards to buy some food and flowers. Scheduled for release in April 2024, Karmanov signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense in October 2023. While in the penal colony, he underwent a medical examination, was deemed fit for service (even though he had never been registered with the military draft office due to his disability), and then was told to sign papers he was unable to read or understand. Karmanov feared that if he did not agree, he would be forced to serve a longer sentence. Karmanov was issued a military ID listing him as a driver, although he cannot drive.
As Novaya Gazeta Europe [European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta] has found out, Russian soldiers are paying hefty bribes to their superiors for "injuries," leaves, rotations, and the opportunity to avoid taking part in attacks. This revelation was made to journalists by the mother of an ex-convict who was recruited into the Storm-Z unit. According to the soldier, his unit isn't advancing or engaging in combat due to the "millions in bribes" given to the generals. The ex-convict also complained that he and his fellow soldiers are only paid half of their salaries—100,000 rubles [$1,125] a month. A Russian officer confirmed the bribery information to Novaya Gazeta. According to him, to "incur an injury" that requires hospitalization, soldiers pay anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on their rank and position on the frontline. A leave "costs" from $5,000 to $10,000, whereas a transfer to another part of the frontline or an early rotation cost between $500 and $3,000.
Five mobilized men from the Omsk region fled from their unit in the Pskov region to avoid participating in the war. They have been absent for over a month now; two of them have been placed on the federal wanted list for going AWOL.
According to Nina Shalabaeva, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Novosibirsk region, Ukraine has handed over three POWs to Russia. The last publicly known prisoner exchange took place on Aug. 7.
Ilya Andreev, a former reporter for Channel One [Russian state-owned TV channel], is being held in one of the military units on Russian territory, and he is prohibited from communicating with his wife and lawyer.
The pardoned former Wagner Group mercenary has been put in a pre-trial detention center. In the past, he was serving time for the murder of a passerby in 2012. Dmitry Semenov from Saratov was sentenced to 20 years in a maximum security penal colony for the murder. After serving 8 years, Semenov joined the Wagner Group, was pardoned, and returned from the war. In August 2023, he was arrested again under the charge of aggravated assault causing grievous bodily harm.
A military deserter, 21-year-old Bogdan E., was arrested in Moscow using facial recognition camera systems. He had been wanted since October on charges of going AWOL.
Courts of the Southern Military District have issued further verdicts against soldiers under the article on going AWOL:
- Contract soldier Nikolay Kuznetsov was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for failing to return to his unit after treatment in a hospital. The court recognized his participation in the war and his injury as mitigating factors.
- Sabir Alimirzaev, another contract soldier, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison. He intended to leave the army, but his commander canceled the order of dismissal after mobilization began.
- The appeal upheld the six-year prison sentence for Nurislam Magomedov, who went AWOL.
- A court sentenced mobilized soldier Danila Detkov to five and a half years in prison for going AWOL. The defense tried to challenge the decision, citing the fact that Detkov is raising a child with special needs and suffers from several chronic diseases, but the court found these arguments insufficient to reduce the sentence.
- Ahmed Amiraliev, another mobilized soldier, was sentenced to five and a half years’ probation for his absence from duty between June 28 and Aug. 8. The court acknowledged his injury, awards received, and his promise to return to the war as mitigating factors.
Security services announced that they had prevented terrorist attacks in Kazan, in which Sergey Novikov, detained last summer, is suspected. The man allegedly planned explosions on railway tracks and sabotage on the territory of a tank school. Novikov is accused of "preparation of sabotage" and "participation in the activities of a terrorist organization." According to investigators, he is a member of the "Freedom of Russia Legion."
In Russia’s constituent Republic of Dagestan, the first successful arson of railway equipment occurred. According to SHOT, the equipment was completely burned as a result of the arson, but there was no disruption of train traffic. The police are searching for the arsonists.