President Putin asserted that 335,000 individuals have signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense to join the war against Ukraine. Additionally, more than 5,000 volunteer fighters reportedly signed contracts. Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, who had previously announced the 335,000 figure, stated today that nine reserve regiments have been mustered and deployed to the zone of combat operations. "Their natural replenishment is ongoing," he added.
Authorities of the Vladimir region have dispatched 17 new volunteer fighters to the front. The Dovod independent Russian media outlet points out that regional authorities, who previously attributed the desire of Vladimir residents to participate in the war to a "sense of patriotism," now emphasize the financial compensation that volunteer fighters will receive. Meanwhile, two women from the Voronezh region enlisted to participate in the war as medical staff. The first woman has five children, while the second is her daughter-in-law.
Cases of draft deferrals being denied have been reported in at least two draft offices in Saint Petersburg. Reportedly, officials took away university enrollment certificates from potential conscripts and delivered data check-up draft notices instead. Students were forced to take them, in order to get their passports back.
The military commissar for the Omsk region announced that 2,300 local residents will be called up during the regular conscription campaign this fall. Draft notices will not only be delivered in person, but also sent out using registered mail. Both methods can be used to summon people for either conscription or a data check-up. The introduction of electronic delivery is planned for the regular conscription campaign in spring 2024.
The military commissar of the Orenburg region admitted that some soldiers engaged on the frontline in Ukraine were denied their leaves for too many months. Meanwhile, a billboard erected in the town of Berezniki in the Perm region [Russia’s federal subject] displays a military recruitment ad followed by an ad for funeral services.
The Vyorstka media outlet analyzed the databases of garrison and district military courts and found that in 2023, at least 147 members of Russian Armed Forces were put on trial for committing a murder while outside the combat zone, which far exceeds the respective numbers observed in the previous years. Thus, in 2020, only 14 servicemen were brought to trial on murder charges, while in 2021 and 2022, the numbers were 21 and 15, respectively. Based on the sentences, most of the crimes committed by Russian soldiers are alcohol-related.
In the Belgorod region, soldier Igor Chibidin was arrested for transporting an AK-12 assault rifle in his car. He claimed to have found the firearm near the town of Kupiansk while on military service in Ukraine. A criminal case was opened against him for illicit arms trafficking.
Garrison military courts of the Southern Military District tried new cases against soldiers accused of absence without official leave:
- Sergey Yunusov, a draftee from Chechnya [Russia's constituent republic], has been sentenced to two years in a penal colony. He failed to report to his unit on Feb. 7 and was absent until March 6. He went AWOL for the second time on March 10 and did not return for 18 days;
- Khizri Kugutov, a contract soldier, has been sentenced to one year in a penal colony. He was absent from his unit from April 25 until May 12. In sentencing, the court took into account Kugutov’s remorse and admission of his guilt;
- Andrey Kapustin, a draftee from the Volgograd region, has been sentenced to two and a half years in a penal settlement. He went AWOL twice, April 25 to May 2 and May 5 to May 24 and turned himself in to the military prosecutors both times;
- Andrey Stepanovsky, a contract soldier, has been sentenced to two years of probation. He signed a contract in May but only a month later he failed to report to his unit and was absent for two weeks;
- Sergey Kubarov, a contract soldier, has been sentenced to two years in a penal settlement. On the day he was to deploy to a training range in order "to perform special tasks," he did not report to his service;
- Service member Astemir Lyuev has been sentenced to three and a half years in a penal colony. He was absent from his unit for over a month.
An arson attempt took place at the railroad in the Istrinsk district of the Moscow region. As a result, two relay cabinets were damaged, though their contents remained intact as the arsonists failed to open them. An investigation is underway.
In Syktyvkar, unidentified persons attempted to set fire to a building belonging to the local airport. It houses a transformer substation, radio beacon control units, and electric switchboards. If the arson attempt had been successful, it would have jeopardized the safety of flights at the airport. As of now, no arrests have been made.
The 2nd Western District Military Court sentenced Denis Anokhin, a resident of the Tula region, to four years in a penal colony for justifying terrorism on the Internet and calls for extremism published online. The case was initiated following his comments about Russian soldiers. Local law enforcement channels also reported that in his posts, the young man called for avoiding the draft office and evading military service.
Two residents of Voronezh were sentenced to eight and nine years, respectively, for attempted arson of a car with the "Z" [pro-war] symbol and a transformer substation. According to the investigation, on the night of Sept. 24, 2022, the young men, aged 19 and 23, planned to set fire to a substation but failed to throw Molotov cocktails. They were also charged with attempting to set fire to a car with a war symbol in May 2022. The court found the young men guilty of destroying other people's property and attempting an act of terror.
A resident of the town of Gus-Khrustalny in the Vladimir region has been detained on suspicion of engaging in confidential cooperation with a foreign state. According to the investigation, the detainee had planned, of his own initiative and in exchange for compensation, to provide information about the movement of railway trains carrying military equipment to "representatives of foreign states, including Ukraine."
In the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained two young men aged 17 and 18, whom they suspect of planning sabotage at the behest of Ukrainian intelligence services. A case of attempted terrorism has been initiated against them. According to the investigation, the detainees were preparing to carry out an explosion on a gas pipeline near Komsomolsk-on-Amur and also had plans to sabotage mobile communication equipment.
FSB operatives have detained a 57-year-old resident of the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, suspecting him of collaborating with Ukrainian intelligence services. It is alleged that he established contact with Ukrainian intelligence agencies to assist in activities "aimed against the security of the Russian Federation." A criminal case has been initiated against the detainee under the charge of "cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state," which carries a potential penalty of up to eight years of imprisonment.
On June 27, a 28-year-old tractor driver from the Belgorod region was detained near the village of Murom, allegedly while trying to cross the border illegally, and sent under arrest for eight days for being under the influence of alcohol. His arrest was extended for illegal arms trafficking. On Oct. 4, two more criminal cases were opened against him: on charges of attempted treason and attempted participation in a terrorist organization. According to the Russian investigation, the tractor driver allegedly wanted to travel on foot to Ukraine and fight against Russia.
According to the Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet], the number of individuals involved in the criminal cases of railway sabotage reached 137 people. In April, a year after the start of the war, there were 66. Most of the alleged saboteurs are very young people, with 39 of them not even 18 years old at the time of arrest, another 55 people were between 18 and 25 years old, and only 17 were older than 35.
The Sirena [Siren] Telegram channel estimates that at least 53 teachers from Russian universities and schools have faced administrative or criminal prosecution since the beginning of the war. Cases of "spreading fake information" and "discrediting of the Armed Forces" were brought against them not only for pickets and comments on social media, but also for anti-war statements in lectures, which resulted in denunciations from students or administrations of educational institutions.
The Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject] government has implemented additional measures to support war veterans and their families. Notably, the sign-up bonus for new contracts will now amount to 745,000 rubles [$7,450]. Additionally, war veterans will have priority access to land plots for housing construction. The head of the Krasnoyarsk region has promised a payment of 20,000 rubles [$200] per child of war veterans by New Year’s Day.
Activist Olga Korobeynikova from Tyumen has launched a project aimed at helping war veterans cope with PTSD upon their return home.
Children in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region combat veteran community have urged schoolchildren to start collecting New Year's gifts for soldiers at the forward positions. The organizers have hinted that warm clothing and food would be greatly appreciated by the military.
The Defenders of the Fatherland Fund has become the primary source of military propaganda in schools. With its support, numerous propaganda events have been held nationwide on Teacher's Day.
In Tyva [Russia's constituent republic], a competition for the right to wear a special badge among young individuals of pre-draft age was held. It was organized by men who had returned from the war in Ukraine.
The Krasnoyarsk-based Prospekt Mira media outlet, under threat of having its site blocked by Roskomnadzor [Russia's internet censorship agency], deleted a post about Irina Krynina, a Russian woman who went to pick up her captive husband in Ukraine.
During Putin's speech at the meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, relatives of mobilized soldiers began to demand en masse that their loved ones be returned home in comments to the broadcast. Previously, authorities had started blocking groups on the VKontakte social network and a channel on Zen [Russian content platform] where relatives of mobilized soldiers coordinated their appeals in the comments under officials' speeches.
A memorial has been unveiled in the city of Abakan to commemorate nine servicemen who lost their lives in Ukraine. However, the actual number of casualties from Khakassia [Russia’s constituent republic] is much higher. According to publicly available data, the number of casualties in Abakan alone is approximately 50 people, while across Khakassia as a whole, the number reaches 210. In the Krasnoyarsk region, a monument to participants in the war with Ukraine is planned to be created from an old Joseph Stalin IS-3 heavy tank.
CIT continues its series on mobilization in Russia. In this second installment, we explore how draftees are assigned to existing units and shed light on the creation of new units composed of mobilized soldiers.
Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Tatarstan [Russia’s constituent republic] Diocese has become an active participant in the aggression. While in the initial months of the war, the focus was primarily on assisting refugees and residents from the Donbas, over time, the rhetoric has undergone significant changes. The Idel.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet, reports on clergy members who actively support the war through both words and actions.
The Bumaga [Paper] independent media outlet tells the story of a mother who has spent six months searching for her son, who was killed in Ukraine. Vadim Martens had signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense before the full-scale invasion, but in 2022, according to his mother, he attempted to terminate it. He allegedly left for the frontline under the threat of criminal charges by his superiors and ceased all communication in March 2023. The Ministry of Defense did not respond to the mother's inquiries about her son's fate, and she learned about his presumed death from fellow soldiers.