mobilization briefs
October 16, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Oct. 13-15, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

On Oct. 14, Natalya Komarova, Governor of the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region—Yugra [Russia's federal subject], met with residents of the city of Nizhnevartovsk. Responding to a woman, who asked why her mobilized husband had not been provided a backpack with equipment, Komarova said, "We did not prepare for this war. We don’t need it." Yury Ryabtsev, Director of the Obereg Center for Public Control [non-profit organization], reported the governor to the police, accusing her of "discrediting the Russian Armed Forces."

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

On Oct. 17, the New Century television channel of Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic] will hold a 12-hour telethon to promote contract-based military service. The program will feature addresses by draft office employees, state officials and religious leaders, as well as a hotline for contract soldiers.

An advertisement for courses at the Russian Special Forces University in Gudermes [town in Chechnya] appeared in the newsletter of the Gosuslugi public services portal. Linked with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, the private "university" has been training and sending "volunteer fighters" to war since the invasion of Ukraine began. The advertisement promises a new sought-after profession, comfortable living conditions, a competitive salary and employment in elite military units upon graduation.

In collaboration with Movement of Conscientious Objectors, a human rights organization supporting those who refuse to perform military service, the Vyorstka media outlet provides tips related to the fall regular conscription campaign launched on Oct. 1:

  • what a correctly issued draft notice should look like;
  • legitimate reasons for a citizen to be summoned to the draft office;
  • changes in penalties coming into effect on Oct. 1 and how to appeal a fine;
  • when the draft notice is deemed delivered and who is authorized to deliver a draft paper.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The following names were added to the list of the mobilized Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine: Viktor Yermolaev and Viktor Gaivoronsky from the Saratov region, Oleg Orishchenko, Aleksandr Gireyko, Vyacheslav Rezvyakov, Pavel Penskoy from the Volgograd region, Aleksandr Shchurov from the Krasnodar region and Day Butitov from the Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject].

One of the conscript soldiers killed in the strike that hit Russia’s Bryansk region on Oct. 10 has been identified as Ilya Mochalin from the Chelyabinsk region, conscripted last spring. His death was confirmed by the draft office. Details of Mochalin’s death were revealed by his sister, reportedly informed by one of his fellow servicemen that a group of soldiers had been targeted in a mortar attack.

Forty-two mobilized soldiers from Moscow and the Moscow region, serving as part of the 12th Tank Regiment, were placed in an illegal basement for "refuseniks." According to information from the wives of these mobilized soldiers, who contacted the Astra Telegram channel, this occurred following a failed attack in the Kupiansk direction. The soldiers came under artillery fire, and it is alleged that more than 300 men were killed. Survivors refused to continue the offensive without proper supplies and support. In response, the command reportedly placed them in the basement in the village of Zaitseve, where they were threatened with imprisonment or being sent into battle without equipment "to certain death." As reported by their wives, the mobilized soldiers were released the following day after the post by Astra.

Meanwhile, other Russian soldiers are still being held in Zaitseve. It is known that soldiers of the 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade are among them. The wife of one of these soldiers revealed that military police took her husband to the basement on the night of Oct. 8, following over a week of detention in the settlement of Novopskov. The military police have accused him of extortion. The woman managed to reach the chief of the military police, who pretended not to know about the existence of the basement. She claims that at least one more soldier from the 27th Brigade is currently in the basement with her husband. The exact number of soldiers detained there remains unknown.

Relatives of mobilized soldiers from Tatarstan, serving in the 2nd Battalion of the 1234th Regiment, recorded a video appeal in which they requested not to send their loved ones to storm Svatove. According to their statements, these soldiers had been serving in the "territorial defense forces" for two years, but they were recently reassigned from their usual tasks to participate in storming operations. One part of the battalion has already been dispatched for this mission, and the other is awaiting dispatch shortly. During these storming operations, they are suffering "enormous losses," with reports of wounded and killed arriving every minute. In addition, volunteers are organizing the collection of aid, primarily medical supplies, for the servicemen of the 1234th Regiment.

The widow of a volunteer fighter from the Krasnoyarsk region, who was killed during the "special military operation," was denied the sign-up bonus payment because, according to government regulation, this money cannot be transferred to anyone other than the serviceman himself, even in the event of his death. The payment was not made to the soldier himself due to the fact that he had signed his contract in November 2022 and died on Jan. 13, 2023.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

The Makhachkala Garrison Military Court sentenced contract soldier Musa Musayev to seven years of probation on two criminal charges related to the illegal purchase and sale of weapons. For illegal acquisition, he could face three to five years of imprisonment, while illegal sale could lead to a maximum of twelve years. The court took into account his involvement in the war and imposed a penalty below the legal minimum.

The Ulan-Ude Garrison Military Court sentenced contract soldier Sergey Makhkamov to five and a half years in a penal colony for going AWOL during mobilization. On May 3, 2022, he left the combat zone with permission from his commander under the pretext of visiting a dentist and decided not to return to the frontline. In June 2023, he received a call from a police officer, who informed him of the criminal case and demanded he report to the draft office, which Makhkamov did. The court considered Makhkamov's participation in the "special military operation" a mitigating factor but noted that he had received a "negative" assessment at his duty station.

Thirteen criminal cases have been initiated in the city of Sochi, Krasnodar region, since the beginning of the year against those who refused to participate in the war with Ukraine. One such case led to a verdict, resulting in a two-year sentence for Taron Vardanyan in a penal settlement. According to the verdict, on July 11, during a roll-call, the commander informed the military personnel about the order to "proceed for combat tasks." He offered those who refused to execute the order to step forward, and several soldiers did so, including Vardanyan. Despite repeated demands from the command to go to war, they persisted in their refusal.

Northern Fleet sailor Yegor Tyukin has been sentenced to 16 years in a maximum security penal colony on charges of treason. According to Interfax, a pro-Kremlin news outlet, he was accused of transferring information containing state secrets to a foreign state. The criminal case against the serviceman became known to the public in August, only after the materials were sent to the court for consideration. The trial was held behind closed doors, and Tyukin partially admitted his guilt.


The pro-war Zvezda I Lira [A Star and a Lyre] fund called for participation in their campaign called "A Car for the Frontline Instead of a Coffee." Residents of Samara were asked to contribute "150 rubles [$1.5] each." The collected funds, as claimed, will be used to purchase an UAZ vehicle for the military.


A correspondent from the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty] online media outlet visited the Nanai village of Naikhin, located between Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. It turned out that many locals share imperial narratives, glorifying Russia and criticizing the West, and unquestionably going to the frontline. Additionally, they consider obedience to authority an essential Nanai tradition.

Journalists from The Sever.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty] online media outlet have collected stories from relatives of ex-convicts who joined Storm-Z units. These stories shed some light on the difficulties they face in receiving payments and official documents confirming their presence in the combat zone, as well as the challenges related to repatriating the bodies of the deceased.

Journalists from the Istorii i Fakty [Stories and Facts] media outlet met with participants of the protests against mobilization that took place in Makhachkala a year ago. They aimed to understand why these people took to the streets, what they faced after the protests, and whether they were willing to protest again. The individuals interviewed shared memories of the protests, the use of force to disperse them, physical assaults, and torture in police custody. In September 2022, residents of Russia’s constituent Republic of Dagestan massed in the streets to protest against mobilization. This struggle could have set an example for other regions, but security forces suppressed the protests, and the planned demonstration in Makhachkala on Sept. 30, 2022, never took place.