mobilization briefs
September 16, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Sept. 14-15, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary  

Authorities and Legislation

Andrey Kartapolov, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], indicated that mobilized soldiers will not return home before the war ends. They are entitled to a leave of absence for every six months of service, but no rotation is planned, he commented. As recently as Sept. 9, however, Kartapolov was saying that they would be replaced with contract soldiers, which were being recruited throughout the year.

Vladimir Putin asserted that 300,000 people had already signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense this year. “The highest levels of patriotism” drive those who enlist, he added. Earlier on Sept. 9, Putin was saying that 270,000 volunteers signed contracts in the last six to seven months, and that each day saw 1000-1500 more people enlist. For his part, Dmitry Medvedev [Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council] claimed on Sept. 1 that 280,000 people had enlisted into the Russian Armed Forces since the beginning of the year.

Viktor Sobolev, a member of the State Duma Committee on Defense, suggested increasing the size of the army by limiting the list of illnesses, which are grounds for exemption. He mentioned flat-footedness by way of example.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Cuba’s ambassador to Russia Julio Antonio Garmendia Peña said that his government “had nothing against” Cubans who signed a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense, expressing his disapproval of illicit recruitment practices only. In response, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez issued a statement saying that Cuba rejects the participation of its citizens in any conflicts and stands against mercenarism and human trafficking. Earlier, Cuban authorities claimed to have dismantled a trafficking ring aimed at recruiting Cubans for Russia’s war in Ukraine, which led to an arrest of 17 individuals who had allegedly lured Cuban men to serve in the Russian military amid the Ukraine conflict.

Participants of the Northern Wasp project who completed a basic UAV operator training course in the city of Surgut will enroll into the Russian Army as contract soldiers. In addition to all payments guaranteed by the authorities, they will also receive a municipal payout of 150 thousand rubles [$1,550]. The first cohort of the course participants had been deployed to the war zone last July.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Pavel Krivonosov from the Sverdlovsk region, Nikolay Selevanov from the Zabaykalsky region, Denis Ruban from the Novosibirsk region, Denis Muminov from the Ryazan region, Yevgeny Golovchenko from Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic], Omarkadan Rabadanov from Russia’s constituent Republic of Dagestan, Mikhail Noskov from the Perm region and Denis Chornobryvy from the Stavropol region.

Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian, in collaboration with a team of volunteers, have confirmed the identity of 32,164 casualties Russia sustained in the war against Ukraine, including the names of 3,613 mobilized soldiers. At least 1,910 of the fallen soldiers lost their lives during the ongoing Kyiv’s offensive. Over the last week only, 509 casualties were added to the count, including 79 mobilized men.

Relatives of mobilized soldiers from the 1442nd Regiment from the Altai region [Russia’s federal subject] have recorded a video appeal to President Putin. The women are complaining that the men have been on the frontlines without rotation or leave for several months. The command regularly sends them to attack enemy positions without artillery support. As a result, the soldiers cannot gain a foothold and suffer significant losses, with no way to evacuate the wounded from the battlefield. Those who refuse to participate in assaults are beaten by the command and still sent into battle. Due to heavy losses, even soldiers from auxiliary units are being transferred to infantry. Most of the mobilized soldiers have not had a single leave in a whole year of service, despite Putin's promises. The command attributes that to a catastrophic shortage of personnel. Their relatives are demanding a legislative limit of one year of service for the mobilized.

The issue of mobilized soldiers not being granted their due leaves is also reported by Oksana Bukholtseva, a member of the People's Khural of Buryatia [the regional parliament]. She has been approached by the mothers of the mobilized who have not had leaves for over 11 months.

The command refuses to send a mobilized soldier from the Omsk region, who has no kidney, for a medical evaluation. Before the mobilization, the man was unaware of his diagnosis, but during the war, he began to experience constant back pain and requested hospital admission. It was discovered there that he only had one kidney, and during the war, it was damaged because the soldier constantly slept on the ground. However, the commanders refused to provide referrals to the military medical board. The soldier has sought help from various levels of authorities, but his appeals have been ignored.

A soldier from the Volgograd region has been returned to the frontline after having several fingers amputated. Artyom M., a 24-year-old with a prior drug-related conviction, signed a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense in April 2023. In mid-June, he sustained an injury that led to the loss of several fingers. Despite the injury being classified as minor, he was sent back to the frontline in early September.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In the city of Kazan, the capital of Russia's constituent Republic of Tatarstan, a man dressed in military uniform bearing a patch with the letter Z set off a stun grenade in front of a residential building in the presence of children. He has been detained, and no injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Garrison Military Court sentenced contract soldier Maksim Kochetkov to 13 years in a penal colony on desertion charges. In February 2023, he had already received a suspended sentence for going AWOL, which meant his final punishment added a new term to the unfulfilled part of the previous sentence. According to the investigators, on May 10, 2023, in an attempt to avoid deployment to the war, Kochetkov failed to report to his military unit. He was arrested on July 9. The Sota media outlet noted that the information about the sentenced individual matches the data of the 20-year-old contract soldier Maksim Kochetkov, who was mentioned in a July 2022 publication by The Insider [independent Russian investigative media outlet] regarding a basement for “refuseniks” in former penal colony No. 19 in the village of Krasnyi Luch [Khrustalnyi], Luhansk region. Kochetkov’s mother told the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet that more than 70 refuseniks, including her son, may have been held there and forced to return to the frontline under torture.

A criminal case has been opened against a 42-year-old contract paratrooper from the Perm region for going AWOL, which carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison. In July 2022, he signed a four-month contract set to last until Nov. 24. At the end of this period, he applied for dismissal. However, the military unit command denied his request due to the ongoing mobilization. Despite this, the man returned home, resulting in the initiation of a criminal case against him. He was detained in Dagestan upon his return from leave.

Mikhail Babintsev, a photographer from Russia's constituent Republic of Buryatia who is accused of allegedly setting fire to a military commissariat [enlistment office], has been added to the list of terrorists and extremists. He was detained in the fall of 2022, and he has been in solitary confinement at a pre-trial detention center in Ulan-Ude since spring 2023.

In Oryol, security forces detained Ivan Gavrilenko, a 38-year-old local resident, on charges of arson of a relay cabinet, which occurred in mid-July in the Oryol-2—Kromskaya railway section. It is reported that the detainee confessed to arson, which he had allegedly agreed to for $1,000.

Assistance

In Buryatia, priests will promote a sober lifestyle when talking to widows of killed soldiers. Besides that, wounded soldiers will be taken on tours to churches and monasteries, and children of military personnel will be invited to diocesan youth clubs and Sunday schools.

The Yugra Never Leaves in Trouble charity foundation, which previously collected money to help sick children, announced the fund-raising for the rehabilitation of seriously wounded war veterans. The volunteers plan to raise more than 1.7 million rubles [$17,560] for five soldiers.

Children

Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] has prepared an instruction on How to Deal with Propaganda at School? for parents who want to protect their children from “Talking About Important Things” lessons and avoid unnecessary conflicts.

In Saint Petersburg, artistic workshops are being organized for children of mobilized soldiers, where they craft clay crosses for the men involved in the war.

Students from the lower grades of School No. 3 with a Cossack concentration, in Korenovsk, Krasnodar region, were encouraged to collect aid for participants in the war. The children took part in patriotic activities, such as crafting, drawing and writing letters for the soldiers. Together with the children's gifts, the Young Cossacks delivered radio stations and optical sights to volunteer fighters from the BARS-32 brigade.

Miscellaneous

For the third time in Izhevsk, a shopping center is being transformed into a factory for the production of drones. Tenants of the Stolitsa shopping center received notices of contract termination effective from Oct. 15, 2023, due to the alienation of the Stolitsa shopping center building. The complex has been acquired by Aeroscan, a company specializing in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles. Previously, in Izhevsk, the Italmas and Novy Dom shopping centers were also reprofiled for drone production.

Authorities have been actively promoting an application for sharing data with security forces regarding drones, explosions and activities of sabotage and reconnaissance groups. The Radar application was launched on Aug. 17. At the same time, the first reports about it appeared in major media outlets. This week, there has been a renewed surge in media coverage of the application.

The Elections, All CEC! Telegram channel analyzed the voting results in occupied territories and found significant disparities between the results in areas of combat activities and the overall regional outcomes. For instance, on more than half of such sites, incumbent leaders would have faced a runoff election. Only in two regions, Chukotka and Moscow, did the winners receive more votes than the regional average.