mobilization briefs
October 21

Mobilization in Russia for Oct. 19-20, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

After a two-month preliminary examination, authorities rejected a proposal to amend the Military Conscription and Military Service Act and specify the service length limits for mobilized soldiers. The proposal had been put forward by the wives and mothers of mobilized soldiers using the Russian Public Initiative portal.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

The Russian Armed Forces are now advertising contract-based military service using SMS text messages. Meanwhile, students of the Southwestern State University were tasked with distributing flyers in one of the shopping malls in Kursk, calling on residents to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war against Ukraine has been updated to include Aleksey Shilnikov, Mikhail Nekipelov and Andrey Ignatyev from Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic].

Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 34,857 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine, including 4,056 mobilized soldiers. Over the last week, the list was updated to include 445 fighters, including 27 mobilized ones.

The relatives of three mobilized soldiers and one contract soldier from the 3rd Tank Battalion of the 1st Tank Regiment have contacted the editorial office of the Astra Telegram channel. They claim that the servicemen are being held in an abandoned house in the village of Sofiivka and are being coerced into returning to the frontline under the threats of jail time, murder, and being moved to the basement for refuseniks in the village of Zaitseve, Luhansk region. In September, these servicemen were deceived into joining an assault squad, which, in mid-October, suffered heavy losses during an attack in the Kupiansk direction. Over the course of 10 days of assaults, four out of 21 people survived in one of the platoons. The fighters blame the intoxicated commander for the failure of these operations. In total, approximately three dozen military personnel are currently being held in Sofiivka. Astra identified 16 of them. Following the publication of this information, all servicemen, except those whose relatives communicated with Astra, were taken to the basement for refuseniks in Zaitseve. Four soldiers whose names were made public are now in the military commandant's office in the village of Nyzhnia Duvanka, and there is no way to establish contact with them.

The relatives of killed-in-action and "miraculously survived" mercenaries of the Wagner Group recorded an appeal to Putin due to the state's refusal to recognize former mercenaries as combat veterans. These ex-mercenaries and their relatives from various regions of Russia cannot prove that they are entitled for insurance payments and other benefits according to presidential decrees. State representatives deny them benefits because mercenaries are not considered military personnel, although many of them have been awarded state honors signed by the president.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

According to the official statistics from the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation for the first half of 2023, servicemen are convicted of murder six times more often compared to the first half of 2022. The number of soldiers and officers convicted for drunk driving has tripled, and the number of those found guilty of drug possession has increased by one and a half times. The total number of convicted servicemen has increased by 40 percent, while sentences for military crimes have increased by two and a half times. These crimes include failure to execute orders, desertion, going AWOL, malingering and voluntary surrender. When passing sentences, courts do not consider valid reasons for leaving a duty area, despite explanations by the Supreme Court. The statistics on crimes committed by servicemen do not include acts committed by ex-fighters of the Wagner Group.

Two men triggered a landmine in the Bryansk region, not far from the Ukrainian border. As they were heading on a fishing trip, their scooter pulled on a tripwire. The men sustained injuries of varying severities, but both survived. On Oct. 18, a married couple triggered a landmine in the same area. The man died as a result, and the woman was injured. The Bryansk region governor Aleksandr Bogomaz failed to inform the public about either incident.

In Moscow, two policemen assaulted a military service member and broke his rib in front of a draft office building after he started a conversation with them, called the policemen “devils,” and asked them whether they would possibly be willing to join the army. The victim of the assault, a sergeant, was subsequently charged with petty hooliganism. Meanwhile, in the Volgograd region, a mobilized soldier assaulted a traffic police officer as the officer was processing him for drunk driving. The region’s law enforcement authorities have confirmed the incident.

The Garrison Military Court in Ulan-Ude dropped the criminal case against the contract soldier Dashinima Munkuev, accused of battery, due to the reconciliation of the parties. Acting on a request by an acquaintance, Munkuev, along with another contract soldier and an unknown individual, drove a Wagner Group mercenary to a forest and assaulted him in order to retrieve the money he owed. The soldier spent some of his earnings to purchase military gear. The court determined that the acquaintances had misled Munkuev, reclassified the charge from battery to the lesser offense of arbitrariness, and ultimately dropped the charges altogether.

A court in the Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject] has sentenced a local resident, Valery Kuznetsov, who had returned from the war, to one year and eight months of corrective labor for causing death by negligence. In July 2023, while intoxicated, Kuznetsov struck a man in the head during an argument, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement. The victim later died in the hospital. The court considered Kuznetsov's participation in the war and state awards as mitigating circumstances.

The Krasnoyarsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced Private Valery Semyonov to five years in a penal settlement for going AWOL. In April, the serviceman left his military unit due to dissatisfaction with the command. In May, he voluntarily reported to the military commandant's office, where he was apprehended.

The Investigative Committee has initiated an inquiry regarding the issuance of a draft deferment during mobilization to an employee of the Bolshoi Theatre due to the suspected overstepping of official duties by an unidentified individual. The man received the deferment in the name of the military commissar of Tverskoy District in Moscow.

A patient at a veterans' hospital in Moscow climbed onto the ledge of the 11th floor with a knife in hand, threatening to jump down to avoid returning to the "special military operation." According to witnesses, he was in an unstable condition. After communicating with psychologists and emergency services personnel, he was persuaded to surrender to the police, who then took him to a psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile, at the military clinical hospital in Podolsk, Moscow region, a patient jumped from the seventh floor in the presence of a resuscitation doctor, who subsequently called the police. The man survived, but his current condition is unknown.

Alena Katorzhnykh, a 24-year-old student from Omsk suspected in the case of setting fire to a draft office, has been included in the "register of terrorists and extremists" of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation (Rosfinmonitoring). In late September, she was detained in the courtyard of a house on suspicion of arson at a draft office in Vladivostok. The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has collected all available information about those detained in this case.

Additionally, a 19-year-old resident of Buryatia Leonid Yudin accused of attempting to join the Russian Volunteer Corps and the "Freedom of Russia Legion" was added to the Rosfinmonitoring list. According to the registry, a criminal case for terrorism has been initiated against him.

Assistance

The Krylya Zaboty [Wings of Care] pro-war volunteer group sent camouflage and anti-fragmentation suits, camouflage nets, thermal cameras, and protective gear against them, medicines, first aid supplies, a metal detector, batteries and chargers to the frontline.

A resident of the city of Cheboksary was denied the benefits that are due to her 13-year-old son, whose father is a war participant. The bureaucratic complications arise from the fact that the child's parents have long been divorced, and the father was mobilized not from Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic], but from another region, where he was registered for military service.

The Za Nashikh — 33 region [For our own — 33 region] Telegram chat, the largest Telegram chat in the Vladimir region for collecting money and “humanitarian aid” for participants in the war with Ukraine, was closed. It had over 15,000 members. The reasons for the closure were internal conflicts among the organizers and a lack of transparency in financial reporting.

Children

In the school of Vyezdnoye, Nizhny Novgorod region, students met with a former mercenary from the Wagner Group who had returned from the war in Ukraine. Mediazona reported that the former mercenary had been sentenced to imprisonment for murder at least twice. On Oct. 17, in the town of Beloyarsky, the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], cadet class students met with former Wagner Group mercenary Viktor Tsybenko, who had a previous criminal record for murder.

The pro-war volunteer headquarters Dobropomoshch 03 organized an excursion for children from a kindergarten in Babushkin, Buryatia. During the tour, the children dressed in balaclavas and learned to weave camouflage nets.

Miscellaneous

Authorities opened a memorial alley in the village of Zalari, Irkutsk Region, dedicated to 17 local residents who were killed in the war with Ukraine. Six of them were ex-convicts.

Expenditures for Moscow's "Safe City" program, which includes law enforcement, disaster preparedness, and economic mobilization, are projected to reach 106 billion rubles [$1,100,000,000] in 2024. Last year's plan, budgeted at 49 billion rubles [$513,000,000], has already been exceeded.

Longreads

The Takie Dela [So It Goes] online media outlet has published an article about the Spas military-patriotic club, which organizes offsite training where children spend several days in the woods. During this time, they learn combat tactics, operate drones, participate in cross-country runs, watch patriotic films, and engage in discussions afterward.

In an interview with the Vyorstka media outlet, psychologist Lyudmila Petranovskaya discusses how Russian society is coping with the trauma of war.