mobilization briefs
November 30, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Nov. 28-29, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] approved in the first reading a bill to hold volunteer fighters accountable for crimes against military service.

The Agentstvo.Novosti [Agency News] Telegram channel spoke to legal experts about the risks for people who fail to surrender their passports when they become barred from leaving the country. The experts surmise that the requirement, which was recently introduced by the government, can be ignored for now as it does not provide a legal basis for prosecution. However, it may be difficult to leave Russia because border officials will see the ban in their database.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Novaya Gazeta Europe [European edition of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta] noted that bailiffs are increasingly pushing debtors to join the war by signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense. In Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic], for instance, they now promote contract-based military service on their summonses. According to the terms, the authorities suspend the debt obligations of those who enlist, with the exception of alimony payments. Furthermore, the property of participants of the "special military operation" cannot be arrested and their bank cards cannot be blocked.

In Moscow, authorities are trying to conscript Sergey Komarov, a student of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, despite his right to defer military service. Police officers forcibly took Komarov from his home to the Akademichesky district draft office and confiscated his phone and passport. Officials later transferred the young man to the military collection point on Ugreshskaya Street. According to Komarov, officials at the draft office refused to consider his draft deferral certificate on the pretext that "the document has the wrong format," while officials at the military collection point argued that it should have been submitted to the draft office. In recent weeks, there have been an increasing number of cases in Moscow where the authorities are trying to forcibly conscript young men in a single day in an effort to meet conscription targets.

Young men from the city of Volgograd, detained by the police during a raid in a dormitory near Moscow and handed over to the draft office, were labeled as draft dodgers by the police. According to the young men themselves, who have already been conscripted, they were students at vocational schools and came to Moscow for temporary work.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

Municipal deputy Valery Veremeychik from the city of Saint Petersburg has submitted an appeal to the State Duma requesting to limit the service period for mobilized soldiers to one year, with the time spent in the "special military operation" zone limited to six months.

The wives of mobilized soldiers have chosen a white headscarf as their symbol. They encourage wearing it at all events and in the streets. According to the women, they were inspired by the mothers and grandmothers in Argentina who protested against the arbitrary kidnapping of their children by the authorities during the Videla dictatorship.

The authorities are attempting to discredit the movement of mobilized soldiers’ wives by accusing them of "ties with foreign entities," including Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation. This was mentioned by professional informant Ilya Remeslo, who believes that a "housewife left without a husband" is incapable of organizing such a movement. His post was shared by propagandist Vladimir Solovyev on his Telegram channel. The Put Domoy [Way Home], a community of wives of mobilized soldiers, responded that they could bring "a crowd of at least ten thousand" real relatives of soldiers to Solovyev's studio. Another message with a similar content targeting the wives of mobilized soldiers, also posted by Solovyev, drew dissatisfaction from another community called Zaschita Prav Mobilizovannyh [Defense of the Rights of Mobilized Soldiers].

Mobilized soldiers, volunteer fighters and contract soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Yuri Popov from the Tyumen region, Nikolay Shiryayev from the Sverdlovsk region, Maksim Moskvin and Pavel Tomilov from the Vologda region.

A memorial stand dedicated to 12 factory workers who were killed in the war with Ukraine was unveiled at the Ulan-Ude engine and railcar repair plant. Out of approximately 6,000 employees, 150 men (2.5% of the total) were mobilized and another 60 volunteered to fight.

POW Yevgeny Kovtkov, the civil partner of Irina Krynina, the first Russian woman to come to Kyiv with her children under the Return the Husband to his Wife program, refused to participate in the program and decided to wait for a prisoner exchange to return to Russia. Krynina herself decided to stay in Ukraine—she got a job with the Ukrainian Hochu Zhit (I Want to Live) project.

Mediazona, an independent Russian media outlet, has published a translation of an Associated Press article—the agency gained access to phone conversations of mobilized soldiers calling their families during the battle for the town of Bakhmut. In the recordings, most of which are dated January 2023, the soldiers talk about "friendly fire," constant fear, mental breakdown, the prospect of "dying in a hole," and "f***ing command."

The 7x7—Gorizontalnaya Rossiya [Horizontal Russia] news outlet interviews about 50 draftees who were wounded in action and, after their recovery in military hospitals, found themselves in a military unit in Pskov. For several months now, they have been unsuccessfully trying to get themselves discharged from military service. To be released from duty, they need doctors to certify that they are unfit to serve. However, according to the soldiers, the doctors just would not see them. Meanwhile, a Novosibirsk draftee who was finally granted a leave after his relatives met with local authorities was denied a referral for medical treatment. At a healthcare facility, the man was informed that referring him for treatment would make him a "deserter."

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

According to the Astra Telegram channel, a contract soldier armed with an assault rifle escaped from a Kaluga region military unit on Nov. 28. Already on the same day, he was arrested in the Smolensk region. It is not known what motivated the soldier's actions.

A 14-year-old secondary school student was detained in Buynaksk, Dagestan, on the night of Nov. 27 on suspicion of setting fire to a relay cabinet there. During interrogation, the student claimed that he only wanted to extract scrap metal from the already burned out cabinet.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that it had "prevented an act of terror" in Voronezh after the arrest of a man who authorities said was planning to blow up a local draft office and then flee to Ukraine to join the AFU. It is claimed that components to produce explosives and correspondence with his handlers were found while searching his residence. The detained man has been charged with conspiracy to commit an act of terror and illegal manufacture and storage of explosives.

In Moscow, the FSB detained a man born in 1983 who, according to law enforcement officers, was planning to detonate a cistern at a railway station on the instructions of an "unidentified accomplice." The Moscow Investigative Committee reported that a criminal case was initiated against the man for preparing an act of terror and attempting to illegally manufacture an explosive device. The detainee was arrested.

According to calculations by the Kavkaz.Realii [Caucasus.Realities] media outlet, the Rostov Regional Court and the Southern District Military Court have received 16 espionage cases since the beginning of 2023—a record for several years. The previous case under this article was heard by the military court in 2015. All materials related to these cases are classified, and many of the accused are citizens of Ukraine. The penalty for espionage ranges from 10 to 20 years of imprisonment.


In Russia's constituent republic of Sakha (Yakutia), 77 families of participants in the war with Ukraine received material assistance for gasification of their homes. Additionally, 381 war veterans from the republic and 688 members of their families underwent rehabilitation with government assistance.

Employees of the government of the Novgorod region and municipal administrations were required to participate in the annual charity Christmas Gift marathon and to donate 10% of their salaries to the families of war participants.

Students and teachers from the Saint Petersburg State Marine Technical University donated blood for wounded soldiers. Students from the Nakhimov Naval School branch in Murmansk participated in the Trench Candle initiative, making and sending trench candles, as well as letters, postcards, and gift key fobs to the frontline. The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia announced a collection of warm clothing among students for Russian soldiers as part of the Warm Gift for the New Year campaign.

School students and visitors to the Children's Creativity Center in Mamadysh, Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan, were involved in making bomb tails used to stabilize the dropping of munitions from drones.


In Moscow, at the VDNKh exhibition center, the Znanie [Knowledge] society and the Avangard military-patriotic educational center for youth organized a "military-patriotic" dictation that included questions about the war with Ukraine. In one of the questions, the authors of the "dictation" called the Bucha massacre a "Ukrainian provocation."

In one of the schools in Kalmykia [Russia's constituent republic], instructors from the Voin [Warrior] center conducted a firearms training session for 8th-11th grade students under the motto "Weapons are not a source of increased danger, but your friend and a working tool." Authorities in Achinsk, Krasnoyarsk region, held a municipal tournament called "Young Sniper," to which veterans of the war with Ukraine were invited as honorary guests.


The Penza City Duma referred to the disappearance of the video recording of a session during which Mayor Aleksandr Basyenko expressed his opposition to the installation of memorial plaques for fallen soldiers in schools, as a "technical glitch." The missing video has been restored. Meanwhile, the Ussuriysk administration promoted a bot for reporting disloyal citizens.


The Idel.Realii, part of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty online media outlet, talked to Volga region residents who are planning to go to the frontline or have already signed contracts with the MoD to understand what motivates them.

The Sibir.Realii, another part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty online media outlet, released a piece on life in the Buryat village of Bagdarin. After the start of the invasion, Bagdarin is almost half empty.

Journalists from Sever.Realii, part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty online media outlet, spoke with relatives of the victims whose murderers went to war, received a presidential pardon, and have now returned home.

The Re:Russia project has analyzed the changes in anti-war activity in Russia over the past month. As the authors note, the movement of mobilized soldiers’ relatives against indefinite mobilization is gaining weight. Also, the number of cases against deserters continues to grow.

The Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel explains how the regular fall conscription campaign in 2023 differs from the previous ones; why it is better not to go to a draft office alone; whether conscripts can be called to the frontline and whether they can refuse to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense. Meanwhile, journalists from the Vot Tak [Like This] media outlet talked to the widows of two soldiers killed in Ukraine about how they had been searching for their deceased husbands for months.