The Russian Armed Forces continue using SMS text messages to promote contract-based military service. For instance, residents of Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan report receiving messages promising a 300,000 rubles [$3,140] sign-up bonus. The "offer" is supposedly limited and is said to expire on Oct. 30. Earlier, the main TV channel of Tatarstan aired the Vse SVOi [We’re All in the SaMe bOat] telethon, where it advertised contract military service for 12 hours straight.
Raids on migrants, who have acquired Russian citizenship, are ongoing across mosques in the Moscow region. OMON [riot police] have conducted such a raid after Friday prayers at a house of worship in the town of Kotelniki. Officials detained several men, confiscated their IDs, and took them to the draft office in the nearby city of Lyubertsy for a medical examination. According to one of the detainees, the examination board found almost everyone fit for duty. Subsequently, they were taken to an assembly point for contract soldiers in the city of Balashikha, where officials attempted to conscript some, while threatening others with prison to pressure them into signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense, all the while denying the detainees’ access to legal counsel. The finalist of a musical show on Channel One [Russian state-controlled television channel] happened to be among the detainees. The VChK-OGPU Telegram channel reports that all units of the Main Investigations Directorate for Moscow [regional body of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation] have been tasked with "identifying naturalized citizens, born in other CIS countries, who are evading military service." The order mandates the conduct of raids on locations where such citizens reside.
British intelligence services estimate Russia’s permanent casualties (killed or permanently wounded) since the beginning of the invasion as 150,000-190,000 troops. According to the British analysts, recent unsuccessful assaults on fortified positions in Avdiivka, Donetsk region, have contributed to a 90% increase in the casualties among the Russian troops. The total number of Russian casualties including troops expected to recover from their injuries and return to the battlefield is between 240,000 and 290,000. However, this assessment does not include losses suffered by the Wagner Group.
Relatives of men mobilized from the Kirov region into the 1195th Regiment posted a video complaining to Putin that their loved ones are being deployed on assault missions without prior training or adequate equipment. Moreover, despite more than a year of service, some of them have not been granted any leave, and since August 2023, all leave requests have been denied. On top of that, the much needed crowdsourced aid does not reach the combat areas, compelling soldiers to buy their own basic supplies and food.
Twenty soldiers mobilized from the Vladimir and Lipetsk regions to serve in the 12th Tank Regiment were confined to a basement in the village of Zaitseve in the Luhansk region after having refused to obey an order of a drunken commander. As the men’s relatives told the Astra Telegram channel, prior to this incident, commander Sergey Chizhov used to send them to assault fortified areas without artillery support, ammunition, organized evacuation, or even food and water. The men had previously complained of Chizhov’s wrongdoings, however, when an inspection into the complaint was initiated, Chizhov forced the soldiers to hide in the forest, prohibiting them to reveal that they were draftees. Unable to establish any contact with their loved ones, the soldiers' relatives reached out to the military prosecutor's office. Ilya Demidov of the Military Lawyers Committee, a human rights organization in the city of Vladimir, confirmed the accuracy of the information regarding the mobilized soldiers from the Vladimir region being kept in an illegal basement for refuseniks in Zaitseve.
It also became known that some of the ex-convicts assigned to the Storm-Z unit who had earlier been held in the basement for refuseniks in Zaitseve in order to pressure them into signing new contracts were let go on Oct. 18. Currently, the soldiers are already back "in the fight." It is still unclear whether or not everyone of those held was released.
The wife of a Tver draftee named Grigory, 32, serving in the 1007th Regiment claims that the man, having escaped Ukrainian captivity, has been unable to return to his regiment because of lost papers. While he should have been assigned to the 71st Regiment, he is not officially on its roster. The Ministry of Defense is not providing any information on his whereabouts to his family. Grigory petitioned to "assign him somewhere" but commanders are ignoring his request.
As the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet points out, relatives of mobilized soldiers have started creating memes to attract attention to problems their loved ones are experiencing and to bring them home. The Put Domoy [Way Home] Telegram channel publishes the memes interlacing them with serious posts.
An Aeroflot flight made an emergency landing in Krasnoyarsk because of a military serviceman who demanded that the crew open the “passenger door” and tried to break into the cockpit.
Unknown individuals detonated a power pylon on the Azot-Bugulma power transmission line in the Samara region. On Oct. 20, during an inspection, an electrician discovered that the pylon’s concrete base was destroyed and the support stand broken. Intelligence services personnel found plastic fragments of a homemade explosive device.
Saratov region Governor Roman Busargin acknowledged issues with the adaptation of participants in the war with Ukraine. This follows from the changes made to the list of "circumstances worsening or capable of worsening the living conditions of citizens in the Saratov region." Now, the list includes "difficulties in the social adaptation of a citizen after participating in the special military operation in the territories of Ukraine, the Donetsk People's Republic, the Luhansk People's Republic, the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions."
Authorities in the Novosibirsk region plan to reduce expenses for compensating housing and communal services costs for mobilized soldiers from 376.42 million to 84.84 million rubles [$3,943,600 and $888,800, respectively]. This is evident from the project of changes to the region's budget for 2023, as reviewed by the Siberian Express Telegram channel. The proposed reduction in expenses is linked to the decrease in the actual number of families compared with the planned number (10,000 and 4,800 families, respectively). The reasons for the "decrease in the actual number" are not specified.
Fans of the Rotor football club opened a workshop in Volgograd for weaving camouflage nets for the army. Meanwhile, in the Belgorod region, families of mobilized soldiers were assisted in digging up potatoes, making hay, and storing up firewood.
The administration of the Russian State Humanitarian University has issued guidelines to its educators for instilling "anti-terrorist awareness" among students. According to a source of Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet], this is not an isolated case, and similar recommendations might have been given to staff at other universities. To identify students who may sympathize with groups like the Azov Regiment or the "Freedom of Russia Legion," instructors are advised to conduct surveys and monitor students' social media profiles.
In the Chelyabinsk region, the police were called to a school due to a teenager who had drawn a white-blue-white flag on a sheet of paper. Teachers claimed that the student was attempting to depict the symbol of the "Freedom of Russia Legion," and allegedly showed this to his classmates. The boy and his family are currently being investigated by the juvenile affairs unit.
Residents of the village of Krasnaya Yaruga asked the governor of the Belgorod region to switch their children to distance learning due to constant attacks, a request that the governor ultimately agreed to. Additionally, parents revealed that teachers were taking children to the basement, where students were fainting due to a lack of fresh air. The appeal also mentioned that the armored film on the school windows proved to be ineffective, as it was washed away by rain because it was applied on the outside of the glass, not inside. The authorities spent over 120 million rubles [$1,26 million] on sandbags and armored film for Belgorod schools.
Veterans from Russian special forces units, including Alpha, Vympel, and Vityaz, will conduct a lesson on the course "Talking About Important Things" on Oct. 23, where they will teach students how to become members of special operations units. Videos with advice from these military personnel have been published on the course platform and will be shown to students of all grades, starting with the first.
In the Zabaykalsky region [Russia's federal subject], the family of a deceased Wagner Group mercenary learned about his death from a publication in the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet. A woman saw her brother's name in the casualty list beneath a text about the cemetery in Irkutsk.
In Novosibirsk, Vladimir Kaluzhsky, the artistic director of the philharmonic who had worked there for 30 years, was fired. Half a year ago, Kaluzhsky planned to stage a concert based on a book by Ukrainian writer Maria Pustovit.
A new trend emerged in Russian theaters where plays celebrating heroes of the "special military operation" are being put up in various cities. They run competitions to find material for these productions. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty learned how these works are created and their significance.
Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] has prepared a newsletter detailing how the deceased in the war in Ukraine are sought, identified, and buried.