mobilization briefs
October 17, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Oct. 15-16, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov argued that the primary focus of the Russian budget is social, not military. Speaking at a meeting of the Committee on Budget and Taxes of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], the minister also promised not to raise taxes for three years. Yet, for the first time in Russian history, military expenditures will surpass social welfare spending, including pensions and benefit payments, reaching 10.8 and 7.5 trillion rubles [111 and 77 billion US dollars], respectively.

Members of Putin’s ruling United Russia party introduced a bill into the State Duma, which would allow people convicted of certain grave and especially grave crimes to work with children as teachers and coaches, if several conditions are met. They would not be eligible if their criminal record includes murder, offenses against sexual inviolability and sexual freedom of the person, or offenses against the family and minors. A minimum of 10 years would also be required since their release. During this time, they would need to have "behaved impeccably, actively involving themselves in social and charitable activities." Commissions on juvenile affairs would decide when former convicts can teach.

After pro-war activist Yury Ryabtsev reported Natalya Komarova, Governor of the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], for "discrediting the Armed Forces," a spokesperson of the regional government clarified that the governor does support the army and its fighters, and her recent statement that "we don’t need this war" was taken out of context.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

According to open sources, the Sirena Telegram channel has identified at least 15 Russian officials who have left or attempted to leave for the war in an effort to evade criminal prosecution. In most cases, these officials tried to avoid punishment for bribery, although among them were also accused of murder and fraud.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

​The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Denis Shayakhmetov from Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic].

Ex-convicts who signed contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense for a six-month term are being threatened with extension of their contracts. While those who survived the battles were officially granted leave, the reality is that many of them were taken to an illegal basement for "refuseniks" in the village of Zaitseve within the "LPR." They were accused of leaving their positions without permission. In the basement, these soldiers are forced to either extend their contracts for another year or stay in Zaitseve with uncertain prospects. The Astra Telegram channel reported that at least 28 former convicts are being transferred from the Zaitseve basement to another basement in the village of Rozsypne, located 15 kilometers away from Zaitseve. Relatives of these former convicts contacted the Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the news] Telegram channel and provided a recording of a conversation with one of the servicemen who confirmed the information mentioned above. According to him, these soldiers face either imprisonment, deployment to the frontline, or execution by firing squad.

Relatives of mobilized soldiers are pleading with people to write electronic and paper letters to Putin, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, and the governors of the Russian regions. This campaign aims to send more than 5,000 letters and to achieve the return of the mobilized soldiers to their homes or at least a change in the attitude to the families of those mobilized. There is also discussion of filing a collective lawsuit against the Russian Ministry of Defense, although the relatives are convinced the lawsuit will be rejected.

Human rights organizations have noted a significant increase in appeals from deserters from the Russian army. Representatives of three human rights organizations revealed this to Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet]. The Idite Lesom! [Flee through the woods/Get lost you all] Telegram channel]! registered a record increase in statistics in September, with more than 11% of all appeals than 11% (185 people) coming from deserted soldiers. In the peak month of April, only 3% (27 people) of the appeals were from deserters. In addition to mobilized individuals, recent conscripts forcibly transferred to contract service have increasingly sought help from human rights advocates.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In the town of Votkinsk, a 39-year-old Aleksey V., a former convict recruited to the Wagner Group from prison where he served time for theft, was detained. In April, the man was released. Recently, he attempted to purchase drugs, leading to his arrest. A criminal case has been opened against him for an attempted drug distribution.

A court in Vladikavkaz sentenced mobilized soldier Nikolay Kostin to three and a half years of probation for illegal weapons and ammunition trafficking. In May 2023, while clearing a minefield, Kostin discovered a pistol with eight rounds of ammunition, which he illegally kept for himself. Later, as he was evacuated to Russia after being wounded, he took the weapon with him. A month later, while intoxicated, he threatened his wife with this pistol. The woman called the police. Kostin's participation in the war and the request of his unit command not to impose a prison sentence due to the lack of soldiers on the frontlines were both regarded by the court as mitigating factors.

A military court in Moscow has sentenced a 30-year-old contract soldier, Aleksandr A., to three years in a penal settlement for going AWOL. In January 2023, the serviceman did not arrive at the temporary base of his military unit and was absent from duty until May 2023. During the trial, the defendant fully admitted his guilt and expressed his unwillingness to participate in combat activities.

Another court has sentenced a mobilized soldier from the Perm region [Russia's federal subject] to five and a half years in a penal colony for going AWOL. On Dec. 24, 2022, the man left the training center and returned home. A month later, he decided to return to his military unit, where he was detained.

The Tomsk Garrison Military Court sentenced Private Artyom Vasilyev to five and a half years in a penal colony for going AWOL. According to the court's account, Vasilyev left the unit's location on Dec. 15, 2022, "in order to take a break." On April 17, 2023, he voluntarily reported to the draft office.

The Southern District Military Court upheld the verdict of the Maykop Garrison Military Court regarding contract soldier Andrey Karachentsev from Adygea [Russia’s constituent republic], who refused to comply with the order to be sent to the combat zone in Ukraine. We previously reported on his case in one of our summaries. Karachentsev was sentenced to two and a half years in a penal settlement.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) reported the arrest of a local resident in Chita who allegedly provided information to Ukrainian intelligence about the movements of military personnel preparing to be sent to the frontline. The young woman was detained as early as July 10 and placed in a pre-trial detention center the very next day on charges of treason. She faces a potential sentence of up to 20 years of imprisonment.

The FSB also announced the detention of a 20-year-old resident of the Kurgan region who, according to the intelligence services, "collaborated with a Ukrainian organization prohibited on the territory of Russia." Allegedly, he distributed pro-Ukrainian propaganda materials, collected and transmitted information about the locations of units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB, Rosgvardia [the Russian National Guard], border troops, military units, and draft offices.

Ilya Podkamenny, a 19-year-old activist from Irkutsk, who is accused under five articles of the Criminal Code, has pleaded guilty to all episodes, reports Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet]. According to investigators, Podkamenny attempted to stop a train in May 2022 when he was not yet 18 years old. The detainee's mother is appearing in court as a prosecution witness. The young man faces a punishment of up to life imprisonment.


In Moscow, the Legenda [Legend] military-patriotic club, in collaboration with a group of pro-war volunteers, organized an event for the students of School No. 2070. In one of the parks, activities were arranged for schoolchildren, including shooting, tactical medical training, and assembly and disassembly of Kalashnikov assault rifles. In the city of Labinsk in the Krasnodar region, a military-sports game was held among preschoolers. Specifically for this event, a "trench" was dug in the yard of one of the kindergartens. Additionally, Young Army [pro-Kremlin youth organization] organized competitions for five schools in Saint Petersburg involving assembly and disassembly of assault rifles, providing first aid, and tying knots.

At School No. 29 in Surgut, a meeting took place with Roman Tatarkin, a participant in the war with Ukraine. He shared his experiences with second and third-grade students, discussing how he became involved in the war, his injuries, and the "significance of the special military operation." According to the Avtozak LIVE Telegram channel, Tatarkin has three criminal records.

Parents of ninth-graders from Omsk have received questionnaires from the military commissariat [enlistment office] with questions about relatives living abroad, their attitude to religion, and any criminal records of family members. The creators of these questionnaires claim that the responses will help to determine the appropriate branch of military service for future conscripts.


On Father's Day, a video featuring fathers of those killed in the war in Ukraine was released in Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic]. The video showcases 15 photos set to music, with each father holding a portrait of his son and one of his son's personal belongings. The photo project was sponsored by the Defenders of the Fatherland Fund.

Vesti, a state-owned TV channel, aired a story about a Tambov bakery, that has expanded its operations to include the production of 250 drones daily. These drones, known as "Bekas" [Snipe], are reported to have already been deployed in the combat area. According to the Sota media outlet, production of the drones began no later than March 2023.


The Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet reported a story of Aleksandr Yermakov, a resident of Kazan, who spent several years entangled in a legal battle with the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for wrongful termination, ultimately prevailing and being reinstated. However, he only learned of his reinstatement while stationed at a military base near Rostov, having signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense to maintain his service record. Yermakov was unable to leave the base, as his superior ignored all formal requests. When he attempted to seek justice through the military court, he was unexpectedly dispatched to the frontline in the town of Bakhmut.

The Groza [Thunderstorm] student media outlet published a piece on how the Association of Student Patriotic Clubs operates, with the majority of the clubs existing only on paper.