The Vyorstka media outlet noted that the federal budget proposal for 2024-2026 appropriates more than 40 billion rubles [$400 million] per year to patriotic propaganda. 43.8 billion rubles [$438 million] had been allocated for this purpose in 2023, which was a fourfold increase compared to 2022 and ten times more than in the years before that.
In the last two years, Yaroslavl regional authorities spent more than a billion rubles [$10 million] from the regional budget on the war against Ukraine. This money was used to provide assistance to servicemen and their families, to finance the work of draft offices and to pay volunteer fighters, who signed a contract. The spending amounted to 500 million rubles [$5 million] in 2022 and 720 million rubles [$7.2 million] in 2023.
Talking about the digital transformation of draft offices, Andrey Artemyev, Military Commissar for Karelia [constituent republic of Russia], announced that the region will pilot electronic delivery of draft notices during the current fall regular conscription campaign. Similarly, the Kaluga region will also see the introduction of electronic draft notices. According to the regional authorities, the pilot will cover five regions in total with the names of the remaining three yet to be disclosed. Meanwhile, Yevgeny Fuzhenko, Military Commissar for the Irkutsk region, indicated that just over 2,500 local residents will be called up during the regular conscription campaign this fall, in line with previous years. Fuzhenko added that the region will not be using electronic draft notices at this time. Regular conscription will also take place in occupied Crimea, where approximately 2,000 individuals are expected to be called up.
An investigation by BBC News Russian has delved into how Russian authorities are recruiting Serbian citizens to fight in the war with Ukraine. Among the recruiters are Dejan Berić, who has been involved in the war since 2014, and Davor Savičić, who formed a Serbian platoon as part of the Wagner Group in 2014. The recruited Serbs travel to Russia, where they sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense and apply for Russian citizenship to avoid prosecution at home, where engaging in mercenary activities could result in sentences of up to ten years in prison. They are registered as foreigners in the Moscow region, as the region has struggled to meet its targets for volunteer fighters. Initially, the was to recruit up to 1,000 Serbs for the war, but only around 100 were enlisted, after which the information became public and the initiative was frozen.
The 7x7—Gorizontalnaya Rossiya [Horizontal Russia] news outlet examined statements made by Russian authorities about the number of volunteer fighters who have signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense. In June, President Putin announced that there were 156,000 new contract servicemen, and by early September, this number had risen to 350,000. Therefore, according to official statements, almost 200,000 people signed contracts in less than four months. Analysts are skeptical of such claims.
The director of an advertising agency that placed a billboard advertising both a funeral bureau and army service had to apologize after outrage from pro-war activists, and the funeral bureau advertisement was removed.
Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, together with volunteers, have verified the names of 33,904 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine, including 3,942 mobilized soldiers. 668 servicemen were added to the list in the past week, including 106 mobilized soldiers.
The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Vladislav Burzakovsky from the Moscow region, Dmitry Krylov from the Yaroslavl region, as well as Aleksandr Smetanin, Stanislav Savinovsky, Aleksey Serebrennikov, and Nikolay Dodeev from Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic].
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented cases of intimidation of men residing in the territories of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), aimed at forcing them to serve in the Russian armed forces. Additionally, Russian military personnel have threatened the relatives of deserters, demanding information about their whereabouts. Elderly men have been deprived of the opportunity to retire upon reaching the maximum age limit. All of these actions are considered violations of international humanitarian law.
Journalists from the Vyorstka media outlet discovered that, according to Yandex Wordstat data, in September 2023, Russian citizens were exceptionally interested in when mobilized soldiers would return from the war. In total, there were 134,000 queries with the text "when will mobilized soldiers return" during September. This issue is also raised in specialized chat groups, where activists address authorities and create petitions. For example, wives of mobilized soldiers from Krasnoyarsk are taking such actions. However, instead of attempting to solve the problem, authorities are blocking such resources. In Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic], for instance, the Zen [Russian content platform] channel called Families of Mobilized Soldiers in Russia, run by the wife of a mobilized soldier, was blocked, as well as the channel of journalist Aleksandr Udikov from the city of Cheboksary.
Denis Stepanov, an ex-convict who had recently returned from the war, was put under arrest until Dec. 2 by the Yermakovsky district court of the Krasnoyarsk region on suspicion of committing arson of a residential building, which resulted in the death of two women. He is being charged with double homicide committed with extreme cruelty, posing a danger to the general public. Similarly, Oleg Grechko, an ex-convict who also recently returned from the war, was arrested until Nov. 27 after burning his sister alive. He is facing charges of murder committed with extreme cruelty.
A contract soldier in Vladimir has been sentenced to five years in prison for going AWOL. The soldier failed to report for duty the day after receiving a one-year probationary sentence for going AWOL, as he mistakenly believed that the probationary sentence would result in his dismissal from the Armed Forces.
The Novosibirsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced Junior Sergeant Anton Baranov to five years of probation for going AWOL. Baranov was hospitalized in December 2022, but after being discharged from the hospital, did not return to his unit. On June 6, 2023, he voluntarily surrendered to the police.
In Moscow, a mobilized individual from the "DPR" was detained for going AWOL. He was reportedly identified through a CCTV camera.
The Southern District Military Court has approved the denial of compensation in the amount of 3 million rubles [$30,000]to Batraz Tauchelov, a major from Rosgvardia [the Russian National Guard] in Chechnya [Russia's constituent republic], for the injury he sustained during the war against Ukraine. Tauchelov injured his leg while trying to capture a civilian in the occupied Kherson region. The unit's leadership had previously denied the major's claim, asserting that the injury was a result of his carelessness.
An 8-year-old child was detained for setting fire to a garage on the premises of a draft office in Vladivostok. The fire went out quickly, and the police caught a third-grade student at the scene of the arson. His mother was fined for child neglect.
In Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan, three residents of Bugulma aged 21, 20, and 16 were detained on suspicion of setting fire to a relay cabinet on the railway. They were promised 15,000 rubles [$150] for every burnt relay cabinet. A criminal case was initiated against them on charges of an act of terror, and they face up to 20 years in prison.
Three 16-year-olds have been arrested in Syktyvkar on suspicion of setting fire to a substation at the airport. The accused have been charged with preparing for an act of terror. According to investigators, a curator promised them money for "certain actions."
The Southern District Military Court sentenced Nikita Belikov, a resident of Stavropol, to 11 years of imprisonment on charges of aiding terrorist activities. According to the investigation, the Stavropol resident recorded a video address expressing his intent to join the Azov Regiment.
The court reduced the sentence for Ilya Chizh, a City Councilor who assaulted two people with a baseball bat in April 2022, by one month, considering the awards he received in the war with Ukraine as a mitigating factor. He must now spend one year and 11 months in a penal colony. However, after the sentence was pronounced, Chizh left for Ukraine as part of the Wagner Group.
Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Dmitry Demeshin received visitors at the Omsk branch of the Defenders of the Fatherland Fund. Servicemen asked him for help with providing their families with heating, arranging payments, and even fixing kindergarten lighting.
Tatarstan authorities have reported on the opening of 22 psychological aid rooms for families of participants in the war with Ukraine. Meanwhile, families of pupils and teachers of two kindergartens in Novy Urengoy gathered supplies to be sent to the combat zone.
In the Perm region [Russia's federal subject], authorities have decided to build a military-patriotic camp for 300 cadets instead of reconstructing the Solikamsk tract. The updated regional targeted investment program allocates 2,07 billion rubles [$20,7 million] for this purpose.
Nizhny Novgorod Mayor Yury Shalabayev announced that the mayor's office will provide financial rewards to children who are actively participating in military-patriotic events. The annual award fund will amount to 600,000 rubles [$6,000] and will be equally distributed among the top 10 activists.
Heads of seven regions of Russia have established new awards intended for the war participants and supporting organizations. However, it has been discovered that governors hand out these medals and bonus payments to their advisers, bloggers, members of the ruling United Russia party and Moscow celebrities.
Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] analyzed the reports on cases related to "underreporting" and published an article on how Article 205.6 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, "Failure to report a crime," works. Russians may face not only fines, but also imprisonment for up to one year as the maximum punishment under this law.
The Vyorstka media outlet, in collaboration with the Without Prejudice project that offers free psychological help for people with an anti-war stance, prepared an article on what can help preserve mental health during the war.
In 2024, for the first time in modern Russian history, military expenditures will exceed social spendings. Along with the increase in budget expenditures, the government has also planned a sharp rise in oil revenues (11.5 trillion rubles [$115 billion]). The budget will also be filled with the military expansion of the economy and one-time contributions from businesses (23.5 trillion rubles [$235 billion]). However, many analysts believe that the government will have to resort to tax hikes or new one-time levies.
The Lyudi Baikala (People of Baikal) independent media outlet, in collaboration with Groza [an online magazine for students], conducted an investigation into the organization of university quotas for war participants and their children. Vazhnye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] spoke with history major students at Russian universities to explore their views on propaganda in history teaching and how they plan to discuss the war with children.
Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet] published a historical piece about how the attitude towards deserters has changed over time.