mobilization briefs
September 22, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Sept. 20-21, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

A group of members of the State Duma and Senate [lower house and upper house of Russia's Federal Assembly, respectively] has prepared several related bills, which would allow Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] to muster volunteer fighter units, granting it similar powers to the Ministry of Defense. Rosgvardia would contract soldiers "for defensive purposes during periods of mobilization, martial law, in case of an armed conflict or a counter-terrorism operation." Alexander Khinshtein, a member of the State Duma and one of the authors, emphasized that the legislative initiative is not connected to the rumors of integrating former units of the Wagner Group into Rosgvardia. Earlier, Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] had uncovered attempts to recruit former mercenaries into Rosgvardia. Citing a message posted on Sept. 20 in a mercenary chat group, it also reported on rumors that the leadership of the Wagner Group was negotiating a collaboration agreement with Rosgvardia. Reportedly, the mercenaries would integrate the latter’s units to continue their activities in Belarus, Africa and Ukraine.

Oleg Nilov, a member of the State Duma, proposed toughening the penalties applied to newly naturalized citizens who fail to register for military service. He claims that they are 10 times less likely to serve in the army than native citizens and called for penalties for draft dodging to be increased "by tens or hundreds of times, up to revoking their acquired citizenship."

Andrey Kartapolov, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma, commented on the overall effectiveness of the "partial" mobilization campaign: "Deficiencies that were revealed during partial mobilization are now practically eliminated, and we are actively working towards making our mobilization system the most advanced in the world." Kartapolov also claimed that mobilized soldiers were being rotated and were being granted leaves of absence at home.

Andrey Gurulyov, a member of the State Duma, suggested mobilizing people who are unemployed. After referring to them as "parasites," he later clarified that he was not calling for general mobilization or compulsory labor service.

Vasily Vlasov, a member of the State Duma, has proposed introducing tax incentives for Russians who have worked at military-industrial complex enterprises for over 15 years, specifically on land and property taxes. Earlier, Putin suggested extending the benefits of the preferential Far Eastern mortgage program to all employees of military-industrial complex enterprises, irrespective of age or family criteria.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

Residents of Balashikha are facing difficulties in obtaining military IDs and registering at the draft office due to long queues. Online appointments through the Gosuslugi public services portal are not available, so people are manually added to a waiting list. Approximately two hundred people are waiting in line. The draft office only receives citizens twice a week. It's worth noting that individuals who have reached the age of 27 but who do not manage to join the reserves by the end of this year may be conscripted for regular biannual service as early as the spring draft in 2024. The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel has prepared a guide on what needs to be done to avoid falling under the new laws.

The Mayor of Cheremkhovo in the Irkutsk region has reported sending six volunteer fighters to the war, including one female paramedic.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Vyacheslav Grigoryev from the Krasnoyarsk region. Additionally, Denis Slyusarev, a father of a large family, was killed in the war. He was mobilized in September 2022 when his wife was pregnant with their third child. Slyusarev was never granted leave during his entire service. His wife sought assistance from various authorities to bring her husband home. She met twice with Governor of the Krasnoyarsk region Mikhail Kotyukov who promised to help her. Denis Slyusarev was killed in the Zaporizhzhia region on Sept. 14, without ever having the opportunity to meet his third child.

Mikhail Krivko, a mobilized father of three children from the Krasnodar region, cannot return home despite a decision by the draft board because the command refuses to discharge him. In April, his third child was born, after which he applied for a draft deferment, and the draft board made a decision to release him. However, the command of the 2nd Army Corps did not discharge him, and Krivko has been unable to return home for over three months. In mid-July, he was sent to the forward positions.

The Vyorstka media outlet analyzed lawsuits filed by mobilized soldiers in district and garrison courts across the country and found only nine Russian fathers of three children who were able to challenge their mobilization in court.

The Telegram channel Govorit NeMoskva [independent media outlet] interviewed the relatives of mobilized soldiers, as well as Dmitry Kuznetsov, a member of the State Duma and Head of the Coordinating Headquarters for Assistance to Mobilized Soldiers and Their Families, and Eduard Sharafiev, a member of the State Council of Russia's constituent Republic of Tatarstan, about the possibility of rotating mobilized soldiers. Mothers and wives have repeatedly appealed to the authorities, demanding rotations in the army and the return of those who were drafted a year ago. However, the authorities are in no hurry to release these men, even for leave.

Municipal deputies from the Zemskiy Siezd [People's Congress] movement have launched a petition demanding to bring mobilized soldiers home. The authors emphasize that there is no need for new mobilization measures, and that the conflict with Ukraine should be resolved diplomatically.

On the VKontakte social network, relatives of mobilized men held a mass action in the comments under a broadcast of the Duma TV group, demanding demobilization.

The Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet interviewed wounded Russian soldiers and their relatives and discovered that, despite serious injuries, they are being denied treatment due to "a shortage of manpower" on the frontline. Additionally, some servicemen report the lack of compensation payments and salaries. Those who managed to survive so far, preferred to flee after finding out about yet another planned assault.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In the Krasnodar region, a war participant was detained for giving a grenade to a minor. The man is charged with the illegal trafficking of explosives or explosive devices.

In Ingushetia [Russia’s constituent republic], two ninth-grade students accidentally discovered an underground weapons cache while playing and inadvertently detonated a grenade. Both of them suffered severe injuries and are currently receiving treatment in a hospital. Authorities have launched an investigation to determine the party responsible for setting up the hidden storage facility.

On Sept. 20, mobilized junior sergeant Aleksandr A. fled from his military unit in the Urazovo village area of the Belgorod region. He took with him an assault rifle and four magazines of ammunition. He was apprehended the following day. It is reported that he left the unit because he was angered by the denial of leave. He now faces criminal charges.

The Petersburg Garrison Military Court sentenced 52-year-old military serviceman Lev Poletaev to three years in prison for going AWOL. The man voluntarily appeared at the draft office in a state of alcohol intoxication and was registered as mobilized. While in the military unit, Poletaev consumed alcohol again and fled. In December 2022, Poletaev spent some time in the hospital, where he was treated for alcoholism.

The military court in Krasnodar found contract soldier Sergey Maksimenko guilty of assaulting a passerby who did not believe in his participation in the war in Ukraine. As a result of the altercation, the victim suffered an open cranial-brain injury. Maksimenko faced up to ten years in prison under the charge of intentionally causing serious bodily harm, but the court sentenced him to three years on probation.

The Rospartisan Telegram channel, associated with Ilya Ponomarev [a former Russian parliamentarian living in exile in Ukraine], has published a video in which unknown persons set fire to two military KAMAZ trucks. According to the post's authors, the video was filmed in the Leningrad region, and the trucks contained bulletproof vests and thermal cameras prepared for shipment to the combat zone.

An unidentified individual threw a smoke bomb and a smoke-puff charge to the premises of a military unit in Yekaterinburg and then fled the scene. No fire occurred, and the person is now wanted by authorities.

In Saint Petersburg, security forces detained a 47-year-old man. During the search, they allegedly found a TT pistol and about 400 cartridges for it, as well as three metal signs depicting the flag of the "Freedom of Russia Legion."

In the Saratov region, 24-year-old Vitaly Ch. was detained on suspicion of railway sabotage. He confessed during interrogation that the day before, he had pulled transformers out of a relay cabinet on the railway section between Grivno and Podolsk stations.

A polytechnic college student and his 23-year-old girlfriend were arrested in Kemerovo. They are suspected of attempting to set fire to relay cabinets on the West Siberian Railway in April 2023. The young individuals allegedly confessed, leading to additional charges of arson being filed against them. Multiple cases have been initiated against them for alleged acts of sabotage.

The Appellate Court upheld the verdict for Ansangan Moldakhmetov, sentencing him to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony for attempting to set fire to a military commissariat [enlistment office]. According to investigators, Moldakhmetov, along with a friend, received an anonymous offer of 1 million rubles [$10,400] to carry out this act of arson against the draft office. He was convicted of arson committed by a group of persons upon prior conspiracy, resulting in significant damage.

Polina Yevtushenko, who was arrested in Samara on charges of "preparing to commit high treason," now is charged with an additional criminal charge. Initially, she was accused of two crimes: "preparing to commit high treason" and "calls for terrorism." She has now been charged with terrorism financing as well, potentially subjecting her to up to 22.5 years in prison. Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] previously released a detailed report on Yevtushenko's case.


To support war participants, the budget of Saint Petersburg for 2024 allocates 3 billion rubles [$31,2 million].

The authorities of the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject] have launched a website to facilitate the collection of assistance for Russian servicemen. Additionally, a "family patriotic festival" will be held in the region.

Ivan Vorobyov, a volunteer from the town of Megion, Khanty-Mansi autonomous region, is going to organize a food fair and donate all proceeds to support the army.

A female doctor from the Vladimir region, who had voluntarily joined the war effort, criticized the contents of the first aid kits assembled by local residents for military personnel.


At School No. 37 in the city of Barnaul, a "Hero’s desk" was opened in honor of Dmitry Bazanov, a history teacher who had previously taught at the school. Bazanov was mobilized and later killed in the Donetsk region.

Governor of the Novosibirsk region Andrey Travnikov has called for simplifying the employment of minors in factories due to the urgent need for personnel. According to Travnikov, 6,000 minors from Novosibirsk worked during the summer, with 83 teenagers hired at defense enterprises.

Pskov State University is conducting a survey among students regarding their attitudes towards Prigozhin’s armed rebellion. The questionnaire also includes questions about their attitude towards the events unfolding in Russia, the war against Ukraine, and incidents of draft office arson. A similar survey was recently conducted among high school students in Yekaterinburg.


A memorial square dedicated to participants in the war in Ukraine will be established in the Voronezh region. The construction of this square cost 16 million rubles [$166,500]. Additionally, in the coming days, a memorial site honoring war participants will be completed in Chita at a cost of 5.7 million rubles [$59,000].

A resident of Engels, who identifies herself as a representative of the "wives of pilots," has complained about ongoing harassment by unidentified individuals against the families of servicemen (aircraft take off from the Engels-2 airfield to attack Ukraine). Allegedly, affected families receive threatening phone calls during the night, while menacing messages appear on the walls of their houses.

Anniversary of the Start of Mobilization

Sept. 21 is exactly a year from the announcement of "partial" mobilization in Russia. A number of media outlets have prepared articles and infographics on this topic.

  • The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet compiled a collection of photographs taken during the first days of mobilization in Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic] and the Irkutsk region;
  • Dovod [independent Russian media outlet] published a collection of stories of mobilized soldiers from the Vladimir region;
  • Taiga.Info [independent Russian media outlet] collected stories from its readers about how their lives have changed over the year since Putin announced the mobilization;
  • Mediazona looks into how soldiers were persecuted for different crimes. Over the past year, the courts around the country received more than 3,000 cases of servicemen going AWOL during the period of mobilization. At the same time, not a single person was convicted for failure to report to a draft office after a draft notice has been issued;
  • The OVD.Info independent human rights project summed up the yearly statistics of the arrests for protesting the war and mass draft;
  • Sibir.Realii summarized the year of mobilization in Siberia in numbers;
  • The 7x7—Gorizontalnaya Rossiya [Horizontal Russia] news outlet has compiled a selection of seven stories about families fighting for the lives of their loved ones that were mobilized;
  • 7x7—Gorizontalnaya Rossiya has also published an article on how Russian companies deal with increased demand for prosthetics and a shortage of imported parts, while soldiers wait for months for legally mandated rehabilitation funds;
  • Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] has compiled summaries of how each category of Russians has been affected by new laws passed in the past year;
  • The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel has compiled changes to mobilization legislation over the past year, including conscription age, contract-based military service, digital military registration and more.

After one year after the announcement of "partial" mobilization in Russia, at least three thousand individuals who received draft notices and went to the frontline have lost their lives. One in every five of the deceased spent less than two months on the frontline, while on average, servicemen die on the frontline approximately after four months, according to Vazhnyye Istorii and the Conflict Intelligence Team, in collaboration with volunteers. Men between the ages of 30 and 45 account for over half of the casualties among the mobilized soldiers. Meanwhile, Russian authorities have expressed concern over the decline in the number of employees aged 30 to 40.

The Demografiya Upala [Demography Decreased] Telegram channel has compiled statistics on male deaths for the year 2022. Among men aged 20-29, the mortality rate was 31%, while in the 15-49 age group, it was 8.4%. Buryatia is the region with the highest number of young male deaths. These statistics only include registered deaths, and cases of individuals missing in action were not taken into account.

Meduza has analyzed the key factors paving the way for the announcement of a new wave of mobilization. Everything suggests its inevitability, but predicting the exact date remains elusive.

Mediazona delves into the fate of mobilized soldiers, whose families sought assistance from authorities. At times, units of the mobilized were disbanded after complaints, and those who tried to complain publicly were forced to apologize on video. Another prevalent solution has been the use of basements and camps to which those who refused to participate in combat are sent.

Despite the severity of penalties, cases of going AWOL and desertion are on the rise. People are willing to face imprisonment rather than engage in combat or risk their lives. Many wives of deserters offer unwavering support and are prepared to await their release from confinement for as long as it takes. The Sever.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet had a conversation with one such wife.