mobilization briefs
December 2, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] voted down a bill to prohibit the advertisement of legal services offering potential conscripts to legally avoid military service. The State Assembly of the Republic of Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic] had submitted it to the State Duma in February 2023. Federal lawmakers did not support the bill because it would have impacted ads placed in good faith.

President Putin signed a decree to increase the size of the Russian Armed Forces by 170,000 service members, bringing the total headcount to 2,209,130, including 1,320,000 military personnel. Commenting on the decree, the Ministry of Defense clarified that "no significant increase in citizen conscription is planned. No mobilization is expected."

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Dmitry Medvedev [Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council] claimed that 452,000 Russian citizens have signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense to join the war against Ukraine since the beginning of the year. Earlier on Nov. 9, Medvedev had said that around 410,000 individuals had enlisted. If he is to be believed, more than 1,900 contract soldiers joined the ranks each day during this period. By contrast, CIT estimates that roughly 120,000-150,000 individuals may have chosen to become contract soldiers in 2023, including 20,000-50,000 conscripts.

Roundups of conscription age men continue in Moscow. On Nov. 30, police officers, accompanied by a draft office representative, detained 26-year-old Roman near the Voykovskaya metro station and took him to the Golovinsky draft office. Officials held him there all night, insisting he sign a draft notice, while a medical evaluation board found him fit for duty. At the time of writing, Roman and several other detained young men were waiting to be transferred to the military collection point on Ugreshskaya Street.

On Dec. 1, at the exit of the Prospekt Mira metro station in Moscow, the police detained 23-year-old Maksim from the city of Belgorod. Despite not being registered in the capital and lacking a military ID, he was taken to the Tverskoy draft office. There, the young man was required to undergo a medical examination and sign a draft notice for mandatory service. Following the advice of lawyer Maksim Grebenyuk, specializing in military affairs and creator of the Voyenny Ombudsmen [Military Ombudsman] project, the young man refused to undergo the medical examination. Threats of being sent to the Investigative Committee as a draft dodger did not succeed, and Maksim was released from the draft office, receiving a summons for a medical examination on Monday.

In light of the escalating raids on conscription-age men, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] consulted with human rights activists on ways conscripts can protect themselves.

On Nov. 30, the police, together with the draft office and the security service of the Wildberries marketplace, conducted an unannounced inspection at the company's warehouse in the village of Aleksino in the Moscow region. Law enforcement officers were searching for conscripts and migrants who had acquired Russian citizenship but had not registered with the draft office. According to information from the Baza Telegram channel, they also detained men already registered for control purposes. As a result of the raid, 10 people were detained, and they were issued draft notices to report to the draft office.

Authorities and Relatives of Mobilized Soldiers

Governor of the Vladimir region Aleksandr Avdeyev reported on a meeting with the relatives of participants in the war with Ukraine, where discussions about payments, rewards, medical assistance, supplies, and other matters allegedly took place. However, activists of the Vladimir regional department of the Put Domoy [Way Home] movement, advocating for demobilization, were not invited to the meeting.

Journalists from the Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel spoke with Aleksandra Gladkova from Murmansk, a participant of the Put Domoy movement of mobilized soldiers’ wives. Like many others, she complained about the lack of rotation and leaves for the military personnel and the authorities' disregard of their problems.

Mobilized soldiers, volunteer fighters and contract soldiers

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Yaroslav Salov from the Yaroslavl region, Nikolay Gusev, Maksim Podverbny, Aleksey Molodchenko, Semyon Bobkov and Vladimir Medvedev from the Irkutsk region, as well as Denis Novgorodov, Vladimir Vasiliev and Grigory Vasiliev from Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic].

Based on open sources, Mediazona and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 38,261 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine, including 4,584 mobilized soldiers. In the past week, the list expanded by 575 servicemen, including 57 mobilized soldiers. Meanwhile, the Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet collected all currently available information about killed soldiers from Russia's constituent republic Mari El. In total, 303 natives of the republic have been recognized as deceased since the start of the war (according to Mediazona, the number is 261).

Governor of Bashkortostan Radiy Khabirov spoke about the fate of the Shaimuratov Battalion—the first named volunteer battalion recruited in the republic. According to Khabirov, by now only a dozen or two dozen people remain in service, with the rest either killed, or wounded, or decommissioned due to reaching the age limit. Khabirov claims that the roster has changed two or three times.

The mother of a mobilized man from the Primorsky region [Russia's federal subject] reported that the command had extorted money from her and her son. Initially, they demanded 150,000 rubles [$1,644] from him for a damaged Ural truck, threatening to send him to forward positions and physically harm him. After a complaint, the money was returned to him, and the soldier was transferred to a different unit. However, his new commander demanded 1,3 million rubles [$14,250] from him for the repair of an infantry fighting vehicle damaged in combat. Another complaint resulted in the mobilized soldier being "thrown from one zone of contact to another," and his mother was blackmailed with a criminal case against her son, accompanied by yet another demand of 1 million rubles [$10,961]. The mobilized man ended up in the Storm unit of the 394th Regiment and is currently hospitalized with injuries.

Dovod [independent Russian media outlet] has brought attention to the complaints of servicemen from the 252nd Motorized Rifle Regiment regarding the lack of salaries and injury payments.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

A resident of the Tomsk region, Vitaly N., 28, suspected of raping a 15-year-old orphan girl, has signed a contract and left for the war in Ukraine. He committed the crime in April 2023, and a criminal case was opened against him on charges of rape. Six months later, in early November, he signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense and went to the war.

The Chita Garrison Military Court sentenced Major Ruslan Sivolobov to three and a half years on probation for exceeding authority through the use of violence. According to the court, Sivolobov, "in an attempt to discipline three subordinates for late arrival after lights-out, ordered them to line up, and then struck each of them several times with his fists in the chest."

The Krasnoyarsk Military Court sentenced Private Kesler to 12 years in a maximum security penal colony for going AWOL and desertion. According to the court, Kesler was absent from his unit from November 2022 to August 2023, failed to report for duty twice without good reasons, and finally evaded military service.

The Vladimir Garrison Military Court received a criminal case against soldier Mikhail Lysenko. He is accused of six episodes of going AWOL for different durations, as well as facing charges of causing moderate bodily injury. Details of the case are unknown.

In total, in November 2023, the Vladimir Garrison Military Court issued 10 guilty verdicts under the article on going AWOL. According to the court's database, approximately the same amount of verdicts were issued in October. Overall, in2023, the court has issued over 65 verdicts under this article.

A suspect, detained at Vnukovo Airport for the sabotage of the Ryazan railway on Nov. 11, is also accused of organizing a drone attack on the Dyagilevo military airfield on July 20.According to Baza, the detainee is Ruslan Sidiki, a 34-year-old citizen of both Russia and Italy. A criminal case has been initiated against him on charges of terrorism and illegal possession of explosives. The Vyorstka media outlet provided details currently known about the man.

An attempted arson to set fire to the draft office occurred in Anzhero-Sudzhensk in the Kemerovo region. According to SHOT, on Nov. 30, 40-year-old Irina E. threw a glass jar with a burning mixture at the draft office; however, there was no fire as a result. According to preliminary information, the woman fell victim to scammers. A case has been initiated against her for intentional property damage.

Aleksey Rozhkov from Beryozovsky town in Sverdlovsk region, accused of arson of a draft office, is now facing his third criminal charge. The young man is suspected of spreading "fake news" about the army. Just the day before, the court sent a video for examination in which Rozhkov spoke to bloggers about his criminal case. Based on this video, a criminal case has already been initiated against Rozhkov under the article on justification of terrorism.

A court in the Tambov region sentenced Oleg Borisenko, an anti-war activist and former Wagner Group mercenary, to six years of probation and a fine of 150,000 rubles [$1,644] for possession of gunpowder and “discrediting of the Armed Forces.” Borisenko poured paint on a poster with the letters Z and V, and during a search of his house, gunpowder was found. The Sota media outlet published excerpts from his last words.

According to calculations by the Vyorstka media outlet, at least half of the sentences (52 sentences) in criminal cases related to the “dissemination of knowingly false information about the Russian Armed Forces” were handed down by courts due to statements about the murder of civilians in Ukraine, including the massacre in Bucha and the airstrike on the maternity hospital in the city Mariupol. Forty-seven Russians were sentenced to actual imprisonment, and in total, at least 165 people were accused in 2022.

Assistance

The authorities reported on the delivery of firewood to the family of a resident of Buryatia who was killed during the "special military operation."

Marat Mirkhaidarov, Deputy Chairman of the Government in Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject], has suggested to the region‘s residents that, instead of participating in traditional New Year corporate events, they consider weaving camouflage nets for Russian soldiers.

Aleksandr Avdeyev reported that since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, the Vladimir region has sent more than 1,000 tons of gear and provisions, around 30 military vehicles, over 300 cubic meters of construction materials, 4,000 units of tools and equipment, as well as medical supplies and equipment, with a total value of 15 million rubles [165,000 USD] to the frontline.

Children

Governor of the Volgograd region Andrey Bocharov has announced that the region will open centers for teaching school children how to operate drones, calling this initiative an "innovation" in the system of afterschool education for children and teenagers.

Miscellaneous

Against the backdrop of the war with Ukraine, Russia continues to grapple with problems related to HIV, with a critical situation in a quarter of the regions. Vulnerable groups are increasingly avoiding testing due to fears of contact with the government. Mass disruptions in access to HIV therapy began in 2023.

In Syktyvkar, on the grounds of the Verkhnechovsky cemetery, a "Memory Alley" for those who were killed in the war with Ukraine is set to open. It will cover an area of 2,700 square meters, and currently, over 30 people killed in the war are buried there.

Longreads

In an extensive report, investigative journalists from the Skhemy [Schemes] project (part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) and the Sistema [System] project detailed the operations of the "Redut private military company" based on obtained documents. Previously, journalists from the BBC News Russian reported on this so-called PMC.