mobilization briefs
September 29, 2023

Mobilization in Russia for Sept. 27-28, 2023 CIT Volunteer Summary

Authorities and Legislation

United Russia party members from both houses of the Federal Assembly drafted a bill, which would exempt volunteers fighting in Ukraine from income tax, as well as state fees for the issue of passports and driving licenses. Reportedly, the bill aims to "synchronize the legal approaches applied to people, who conclude a contract with the Ministry of Defense, and Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] fighters."

The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] approved in the first reading a bill on criminal liability for "justification of extremism," introduced by members of the United Russia party [Putin’s ruling party]. The bill would expand article 280 of the Criminal Code in order to include public justifications or propaganda of extremism. People convicted under part one of this article face up to four years in prison and five years under part two.

Members of A Just Russia party are calling for harsher punishments for people who set fire to relay cabinets and other "saboteurs." Their bill would introduce a distinction between two types of crimes, committed for the benefit of other states: regular sabotage and sabotage, committed in war time or when martial law has been declared. Until now, the punishment was 10 to 20 years imprisonment. The bill would increase the lower bound for the second type of sabotage to 12 years.

Furthermore, the State Duma is set to consider several other bills criminalizing acts of opposition to the war during the session this fall:

  • A bill on discreditation of Rosgvardia fighters introducing penalties of five to seven years imprisonment.
  • Amendments to article 328 of the Criminal Code, which would entail a 500,000 rubles [$5,152] fine or 5 years in prison for evading mobilization. This bill has yet to be introduced into the State Duma, but the government has already given it its support.
  • A bill, which would introduce a 500,000 rubles [$5,152] fine or 3 years in prison for posting photos and videos of drone strikes or their aftermath.

A proposal to limit the length of service for mobilized citizens made by Eduard Sharafiev, member of the State Council of Russia's constituent Republic of Tatarstan, was not upheld by the Federation Council (learn more). The parliament of Tatarstan was advised against submitting this proposal to the State Duma as "amendments proposed in the bill with regard to the terms of military service do not fall under regulations of Art. 19 of the Federal Law" (i.e., the Federal Law "On mobilization training and mobilization in the Russian Federation," Art. 19 “Duration of conscription for military service under mobilization”).

Members of the Communist Party Mikhail Matveev and Vyacheslav Markhaev resubmitted a bill to the State Duma proposing to introduce a surcharge to restaurant bills to help finance the war. Last May, they had already submitted a similar bill but the government rejected it and required adjustments.

Kommersant, a leading Russian business daily newspaper, retracted a news article on Russia’s increased military expenditures without stating a reason, which did not go unnoticed by journalist Dmitry Kolezev. The article recounted a recent survey conducted by Bloomberg (learn more). The editor-in-chief of Kommersant admitted the retraction, explaining that this decision had been made by the editorial board.

On Oct. 3, public officials all over Russia will be receiving training in civil defense crisis management, following the directive of Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor. The directive includes training scenarios featuring fictitious situations set in specific regions of Russia, including the possibility of radioactive contamination and the total destruction of life support facilities, along with the loss of 70% of residential accommodations.

Army Recruitment and Military Service Advertising

A billboard advertising contract-based military service appeared on the fence surrounding the General Koryakov school in Solontsy in the Krasnoyarsk region. In Blagoveschensk in the Amur region, a banner across one of the roads is inviting security guards to join the war effort. Reportedly, a tent with the same advertisement is hardly a draw in Moscow. Some Irkutsk residents received personalized invitations "to join the ranks of the defenders of the Fatherland," signed by the city’s vice mayor Yelena Torokhova. As the online media outlet Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe] points out, the letter contains all the cliches used by the pro-Russian propaganda.

Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] published a summary of changes to the law that could affect potential conscripts during the regular fall conscription campaign starting Oct. 1. The majority of changes are increases in fines for various "infractions." Ivan Mirny, a lawyer working for the Priziv k Sovesti [Call to Conscience] project, tells of lines forming in front of Moscow and St. Petersburg draft offices and suggests that the ones queuing up are “those who suddenly decided to comply with the military registration rules before the new, more repressive norms take effect.”

Over 20 men left Chuvashia [Russia's constitent republic] for the war in Ukraine as reported by the republic’s official TV/Radio broadcaster.

Vladimir Shkunov, a leading researcher at the Volga branch of the Institute of Russian History at the Russian Academy of Sciences and a member of the Expert Council under the Russian government, was allegedly involved in recruiting Cuban citizens for the war in Ukraine. Recruiters searched social networks for men with disadvantaged backgrounds and criminal histories. No entry stamps were placed in their passports as they crossed the border. According to some of the mercenaries, they were initially recruited to work in construction or as drivers in the rear. After the Cuban Interior Ministry announced an investigation into the matter, the transfer of mercenaries to Russia was paused.

Mobilized Soldiers and Volunteer Fighters

The list of mobilized soldiers killed in the war has been updated to include Aleksandr Danilin and Vladislav Alifirenko from the Krasnoyarsk region, Yevgeny Fyoklin and Kuandyk Tuybayev from the Orenburg region, as well as Aleksandr Ivaninov from the Tula region.

A "grave of an unknown soldier, killed in the special military operation," has appeared at the Zaykovskoye cemetery in Kurgan, on the plot designated for military personnel. The regional draft office claims that such an inscription was the decision of the soldier's relatives. Allegedly, the mother of the deceased refused to accept his death.

According to the Mozhem Ob’yasnit Telegram channel, psychiatric hospital No. 1 in Moscow is accommodating mobilized men who are evading service for a monthly fee. Among the 45 individuals in the department, approximately 15-20 are mobilized soldiers.

Sentences, Legal Proceedings and Incidents

In a cottage village near Tyumen, a former mercenary of the Wagner Group set fire to a house and took a woman hostage. The man was detained but later released on a pledge to appear. According to people in contact with him, the mercenary plans to go back to the war.

The Krasnoyarsk Garrison Military Court has sentenced Corporal Semyon Vilkhovoy to three years in a penal colony for going AWOL. He was detained in April in the city of Krasnoyarsk, after failing to report for duty in February 2023.

A court in the Vladimir region declared the draft notice, requiring local college student Maksim Ogurtsov to serve regular biannual conscription, illegal. The draft office ignored his draft deferral request based on his ongoing education and health-related complaints.

In the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region–Yugra [Russia's federal subject], a 24-year-old draftee was fined 100,000 rubles [$1,035] for refusing to accept a draft notice. He had previously been convicted of evading military service in 2020 and fined 18,000 rubles [$185].

Irina Semenycheva, an architect from Samara, was sentenced to one and a half years in prison on charges of fraud. According to investigators, after the announcement of mobilization, she took money from men, allegedly to pass it on to a draft office officer to exempt them from mobilization, but instead, she misappropriated their money.

Relatives of Rustam Baizhumenov, a 19-year-old mixed martial arts fighter who was detained for his involvement in a fight with a former mercenary of the Wagner Group in Chelyabinsk, have reported receiving threats. According to the detainee's father, the personal data of family members has become publicly available. 

In the city of Artyom in the Primorsky region, there was an attempted arson of the draft office. An unknown individual threw a bottle containing a flammable liquid through a window on the ground floor. The fire extinguished on its own, and the building sustained no damage. Authorities are searching for the arsonist.

In the town of Kotelnich in the Kirov region, unknown individuals attempted to set fire to the contract military service recruitment facility two days after it opened in the city. The fire did not spread significantly and caused minor damage. There were no casualties, and authorities are actively searching for the arsonists.

In Sevastopol, the Federal Security Service (FSB) detained a man on charges of treason. The man left the country due to mobilization and allegedly established contact with Ukrainian intelligence while abroad. Upon his return, he purposely joined a company involved in constructing fortifications in Crimea and transmitted the information he collected to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). He now faces up to a life sentence.

The Saint Petersburg regional court rejected the appeal and upheld the pre-trial detention of 17-year-old Yegor Balazeykin, despite attorney Sergey Loktev providing medical examination results confirming a severe deterioration in the detainee's health. It is worth noting that Balazeykin was arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a draft office, and threats were made in an attempt to coerce him into renouncing his anti-war stance.

Kirill Brik, a defendant in the "Tyumen case," has entered into a pre-trial agreement. According to a statement from a support group, Brik has provided information about another defendant in the case and confirmed the investigation's version, which alleges that Tyumen's anti-fascist activists had organized a terrorist group and planned to set fire to draft offices, railway tracks, and police departments.


In the Chelyabinsk region, half a billion rubles [$5.2 million] are planned to be allocated to "patriotic education." Over the past three years, expenses in this category have increased 40-fold.


The Novosibirsk-based media outlet published the story of Dmitry Zelensky from the town of Gubakha, Perm region, who in 2018 killed his girlfriend dismembered her, and processed her remains through a grinder in an attempt to dispose of the body. In 2019, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. However, last year, he left the penal colony to go to the war as part of the Wagner Group. Upon his return, he was granted a pardon and is now a free man.


The Vyorstka media outlet published an article about drug addiction problems in the Russian Army. Thousands of Russian soldiers in the occupied territories of Ukraine are reported to be regularly using drugs.

The Kosa.Media media outlet tells the stories of families in which women have taken on the role of “saving” men who are liable for military service, including helping them avoid mobilization. Meanwhile, the Sever.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet has prepared material about the wives of mobilized soldiers who are trying to bring their husbands home.

The Cherta media outlet published material about relatives of missing soldiers who are independently searching for their relatives: they travel to hospitals, watch thousands of videos and photos of dead soldiers, and search for their loved ones' bodies in morgues. Desperate relatives are willing to believe anything and have become easy targets for scammers.