The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] voted to allow Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] to muster volunteer fighter units (more details) at the bill’s first reading. State Duma members now have until Oct. 31 to propose amendments for consideration at the second reading. During the first reading, they also approved a bill criminalizing "fakes" and "discreditation" of Rosgvardia volunteer fighters participating in the war against Ukraine.
The State Duma will be considering a bill to exempt rural doctors and teachers from the draft. Rural teachers previously had this exemption, but it was abolished in 2006.
At a meeting regarding artillery systems, Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu stated that the federal government granted defense enterprises permission to use "all reserves, including mobilization capacities." Furthermore, the Ministry of Defense simplified the contracting process, curtailed the amount of testing and eased component selection requirements, provided the quality of the assembled product is preserved.
Aleksey Vovchenko, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection, stated that 54% of participants of the war against Ukraine, who are now disabled, suffered amputations, with80% of them losing a lower limb. For his part, Aleksandr Sergoventsev, Deputy Commander of the Main Military Medical Directorate, claims that 80% of amputees express a desire to continue serving in the Armed Forces after getting prosthetics. We should note, however, that the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation no longer publishes data from the Federal Register of Disabled Persons, so the overall number of servicemen who became disabled as a result of the war is not publicly known.
On Oct. 17, the main TV channel of Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent Republic] aired the Vse SVOi [We’re All in the SaMe bOat] marathon program where it advertised contract military service for 12 hours straight. Every hour, announcers repeated phone numbers and addresses of draft offices as QR-codes with the corresponding information and hotline numbers were shown on screen. Simultaneously, relatives of mobilized soldiers organized a campaign in the online comments to the broadcast where they demanded to return draftees home.
Recruitment of convicts into the war continues. On Oct. 17, in Tyumen, a convoy of prisoner transport buses was noticed leaving Penal Colony No. 4 and arriving at the Tyumen’s Roshchino airport.
According to Andrey Anikin, a staffer at the Ekaterinburg region’s military commissariat [enlistment office], every tenth prospective conscript in the region evaded military service during the Spring 2023 regular biannual conscription campaign. In total, 221 men failed to report to a military collection point as directed. During the Fall 2023 conscription campaign, the authorities are planning to conscript 600 men, 200 fewer than in the Spring. The Krasnodar region is planning to conscript over 1,000 men.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Pavel Shkolin from the Vladimir region, Vadim Shaulin from the Yaroslavl region, as well as draftees from Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] Igor Okov, Yury Popov, and Valentin Makartsev.
As a result of a KAMAZ truck accident in the Kursk region, two conscripted soldiers were killed, and another one was injured.
Relatives of the mobilized soldiers from the Vologda and Nizhny Novgorod regions have recorded video appeals to the authorities. In these appeals, they conveyed that the 2nd Battalion of the 347th Regiment was dispatched to assault enemy positions without proper preparations and prior reconnaissance of the area, armed only with assault rifles and shovels. The soldiers came under artillery fire and suffered casualties. The command failed to provide them with support and neglected to supply provisions. According to the women, Lieutenant General Abichev, and the commander of the 47th Guards Tank Division Colonel Akimov sent their close ones "to the slaughter." Relatives of the mobilized soldiers sought assistance from various authorities but received dismissive replies everywhere. Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] spoke with the mother of one of them, Natalia Kosheleva, who confirmed everything mentioned in the video addresses.
Relatives of the fighters from the Yaik volunteer battalion, Orenburg region, issued an open letter to the media, requesting help in repatriating the bodies of their loved ones who were killed in the battles near Vuhledar in February 2023. According to the authors of the letter, nearly half of the wounded soldiers died without receiving medical aid and evacuation from the battlefield. For seven months, the relatives made repeated but unsuccessful inquiries to various agencies regarding the fate of the soldiers, receiving no responses. However, some were eventually able to have their loved ones declared missing in action, which took four months.
A resident of the Irkutsk region took out a loan to cover housing and meals for her mobilized 33-year-old son Aleksey Shcherbinin. In April, Aleksey began experiencing choking attacks. He was hospitalized multiple times but did not receive proper treatment. Consequently, he returned home, which led to his being listed as AWOL. As a result, his salary has been withheld since August, and he cannot be admitted to a hospital in Irkutsk because it's at full capacity.
Russian soldiers are committing an increasing number of violent crimes. Mediazona has analyzed data from the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which indicates that in the first six months of 2023, Russian courts issued a record number of verdicts to military personnel accused of serious crimes against the person: murder, severe bodily harm, and acts of sexual violence.
During the first half of 2023, Russian courts heard criminal cases and issued verdicts for 15 individuals accused of treason. This is four times more than in the first half of 2022, according to the Vyorstka media outlet, which has studied the statistics of the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court. Thirty-six people were convicted for divulgence of state secrets in the first six months of 2023, which is the highest number of convictions for this offense in at least five years.
Russian citizens have been fined almost 200 million rubles [$2 million] total for "discrediting" the Russian Armed Forces since the introduction of this law. According to Mediazona, fines for more than 42 million rubles [$420,000] have been issued by the courts in the first half of 2023 alone under this law, as revealed in the report of the Judicial department of the Supreme Court.
On Oct. 16, in a forest near Moscow, the body of a 34-year-old serviceman of the 549th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment who had committed suicide was found. Police officers are currently investigating the circumstances of the incident.
In Kirov, a Wagner Group mercenary was detained for assaulting employees of the Defenders of the Fatherland Fund. On Oct. 16, Maksim Ivanov, a 37-year-old war participant with a previous conviction, arrived at the fund and demanded the restoration of his documents, which resulted in a conflict.
A 32-year-old resident of Russia's constituent Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), accused of raping a five-year-old child, left for the war before the trial concluded. On July 6, the Yakutsk City Court acquitted the man, but the victim's father filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Yakutia. However, in early September, he learned that the accused had left for the "special military operation." The victim's father appealed to the Military Prosecutor’s Office.
In Simferopol, a contract soldier was detained for drug possession.
Ashot Tashchyan, the deputy commander of a motorized rifle battalion from Republic of North Ossetia–Alania [Russia's constituent republic], received a one-year sentence in a penal colony for fraud committed using his official position. He offered to "facilitate" a 3 million ruble [$30,000] payment for an injury claim on behalf of a fellow soldier in exchange for a 500,000 ruble [$5,000] reward, even though he lacked the authority to make such payments. The officer received a minimum sentence as the court took into account his participation in the war.
On Oct. 13, the Magnitogorsk Garrison Military court initially sentenced a contract soldier to two years in a penal settlement for refusing to participate in combat activities. However, he was later exempted from punishment. In March, the junior sergeant had initially refused to comply with an order to go to a combat zone, resulting in a criminal case being opened against him for failure to execute orders. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with a congenital disorder. As a result, the judge decided to exempt the contract soldier from punishment.
A 21-year-old man was arrested in the city of Ufa while carrying a canister, which preliminary data suggest contained gasoline. According to the Astra Telegram channel, the arrest occurred as the young man was walking past a military commissariat. The individual was taken to a police station, although the exact charges have not been reported. According to the Shot telegram channel, the same man was previously detained in late August with a gasoline canister near a military gathering spot.
Also in Ufa, unidentified individuals set power transformers ablaze. The fire was extinguished by an automatic fire suppression system, avoiding any power supply disruptions.
The Second Western District Military Court has sentenced serviceman Eldar Kamalov to 12.5 years in a maximum security penal colony on charges of treason. What exactly the young man was found guilty of is unknown, as the proceedings took place behind closed doors.
In the Khabarovsk region, a ninth-grader named Valery Zaytsev was detained at the stationary unit of a children's department within a tuberculosis dispensary. The student is being charged with incitement to terrorist activities. Allegedly, Zaytsev was involved in constructing incendiary devices, testing them, and sharing the results in a Telegram channel. He is also accused of supporting the Azov Regiment. Currently, Zaytsev is in pre-trial detention.
The authorities in the city of Belgorod will allocate 150,000 rubles [$1,500] each for the funerals of those who died in the war in Ukraine.
In the city of Vladivostok, the keys to a 35-square-meter apartment were handed over to the wife of an orphaned soldier who is fighting in Ukraine.
The authorities of the Kirov region collected 25 million rubles [$250,000] from residents for a new camp for mobilized soldiers. However, the military personnel complain that the aid does not reach them, and they have to purchase construction materials at their own expense.
In one of the schools in Balashikha, a city in the Moscow region, children and their parents were asked to weave camouflage nets for the military during their holidays. Despite the teacher said it was "completely voluntary," children who did not participate were shamed for not helping. Similarly, students at the Far East State Agrarian University, Amur region, are being compelled to make camouflage nets instead of attending classes. A school in the town of Nizhneudinsk, Irkutsk region, has started a small production of clothing for soldiers.
People in military uniforms held a master class on handling rifles, body armor, and other military equipment in a park in Voronezh. In Kabardino-Balkaria [Russia’s constituent republic], a military-themed game titled Special Young Army [pro-Kremlin youth organization] Operation ''We Are Russians!'' was organized for children. Additionally, a military-patriotic game took place in Pyt-Yakh, Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject].
The Vyorstka media outlet conducted a survey on how the war has impacted children in the Bryansk region. The children expressed their attempts to ignore propaganda in schools, their concerns about animals fleeing from the forests due to military activity, and their dreams of an end to the war.