The following is a report by Ukrainian libertarian group Assembly about many acts of resistance to war in Ukraine and Russia.
According to the National Police of Ukraine, since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, about 8 thousand criminal proceedings have been opened in the country for evading mobilisation. As of the middle of this month, the list of leading regions looks like this: in Transcarpathian there are 936, in Dnipropetrovsk – 669, Mykolayiv – 583, Lviv – 528, Volyn – 460, Vinnytsya – 460, Chernivtsi – 424, Kharkiv – 389, Rivne – 360, Ternopil – 342, Sumy – 336. However, only 2015 men received suspicions, of which the most were in the same Transcarpathian region – 322, Volyn region – 193, Rivne – 166, Lviv – 156, Dnipropetrovsk – 146, Poltava – 116, Mykolayiv – 92, Ternopil and Kharkiv – 88 each, Zhitomir – 81, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernihiv – 70 each, Vinnytsya – 62. Of these, 1,877 indictments were sent to court, again in first place it turned out to be Transcarpathia – 297, the top five also included the same Volyn – 171, Rivne – 159, Lviv –141, Dnipropetrovsk – 138, Poltava – 108. If blackouts begin again, enlistment officers and investigators will have more work: clients who are now hiding in their homes will run charge your phones at “points of invisibility”, where they can be promptly received.
Monitoring by the Assembly of the Ukrainian state register of court decisions shows that if at the beginning of the year sentences under Art. 336 of the Criminal Code (evasion of mobilisation) and Art. 408 of the Criminal Code (desertion) in the Kharkiv region were rare and separate, since the spring and summer they gradually began to be stamped in batches, also tightening the punishment for failure to appear to a unit: in the middle of summer the first draft dodger appeared in our region, who was sentenced to a real prison term, but now this happens regularly. These data are unlikely to differ much from the general situation in the country. A typical example from local social networks of how a summons to a unit can be issued looks like this: the day before yesterday, on Kibalchich Street, cops probably forced a 56-year-old man into a car and took him to the enlistment center, where he became fit for duty in 20 minutes. The next day he already had to show up with his things. Then such people join the ranks of refusers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as our magazine told about earlier.
Since the beginning of August, the list of the first instance sentences under Art. 336 has been added by 12, and by 6 cases under Art. 408. During this time, the Leninsky District Court of Kharkiv set a record, sending five evaders to jail, despite one of the convicts has a minor child to support, another is a volunteer of the charity foundation Help Save Kharkiv, and the third explained his act by his reluctance to leave his elderly mother alone. There are no examples of suspended sentences under this article for the specified period in our region: everyone is given 3 years of actual imprisonment.
The Parliament of Ukraine is preparing for voting bill No. 10062 of September 18, 2023 on the creation of a unified electronic register of those liable for military service. According to it, the Ministry of Defense will have access to information about such citizens from all official databases, and the list of information that must be transferred to the register by various authorities will also be expanded. This was done taking into account the experience of Russia, where, together with the electronic register, the practice of sending summonses online is being introduced. There, the summons will be automatically considered served within 7 days after being entered into the register; after receiving notification of a ban on traveling abroad, the Russian conscript will have to hand over his passport himself within 5 days. In Ukraine, there is currently no such technical capability – the hindrance is that the “mobilisation resource” base has not yet been digitised. One way or another, everything is going to the fact that instead of a simple kitchen grumbling about the authority, Ukrainian workers will have to become real lifestyle anarchists. Not only to avoid official employment, as now, but to strive to sever all ties with the state and live clandestinely, including stopping seeking medical care, selling cars and resetting bank cards being ready to blocking for failure to appear on a summons. The ever-increasing blurring of the difference between the occupation and “their own” will affect the political atmosphere of Ukraine, where war fatigue and distrust of any government are already beginning to dominate, especially in the front-line regions. Although until a social explosion breaks out in Russia, of course, passive protest will prevail: maximal going to underground, withdrawal of assets abroad, flight from the country by any routes that are not yet blocked.
One of the main reasons for increasing mobilisation, Ukrainian propaganda cites the fact that the Russian Federation monthly recruits tens of thousands of contract soldiers into the army, but at the same time, recruits are combined with those already serving. Contracts are signed by mobilised, by mercenaries of the disbanded Wagner PMC, and those who decided to renew the contract after expiration. At the same time, instead of the ideological component, the Kremlin is increasingly relying on money and hints to resume open mobilisation if it fails to recruit enough contract soldiers.
However, hidden mobilisation among conscripts, convicts, debtors and other forced categories is one of the factors disintegrating the army. Based on the analysis of statistics from the judicial department of the Supreme Court of the RF for the first half of 2023, compared to the first half of 2022, the total number of convicted military personnel increased by 40%. From January to June, 2,694 people were convicted, of which 1,270 were convicted for crimes against military service, the rest for other crimes, including murder, theft, drug possession, drunk driving (this does not count the violence committed by ex-Wagnerists who did not join the Russian Armed Forces). A year earlier, there were 1,918 convictions, of which 543 were for military crimes. Thus, the number of sentences for military crimes has increased by almost two and a half times. These crimes include failure to comply with order, desertion, unauthorised leaving of service, feigning illness and voluntary surrender.
The Russian liberal-pacifist Telegram channel ASTRA counted on October 24 at least 173 Russian military personnel placed in illegal camps for refusers in the occupied territories of Ukraine over the past 10 days. In their opinion, this is just the tip of the iceberg – what they managed to establish through appeals to the channel. Messages came mainly from the Kupyansk direction on the Kharkiv-Lugansk borderland; they are full of the same complaints about drunken commanders, lack of ammunition, reconnaissance, artillery support, food and water. Some people do not want to fight at all, others refuse precisely to go to the slaughter. Most often, stories feature a torture basement in the village of Zaytsevo, which began to fill up en masse last fall, then was dispersed after publicity, and is now operating again. How many people are sitting there at the moment is unknown.
A full overview of such incidents over the past month is available here in Russian, let us limit ourselves to only the most bright and recent case. According to ASTRA, about 150 mobilised and contract soldiers, who had previously been taken from Zaitsevo and the same prison in Rassypnoye 15 km away, were held at an army training ground in the Kursk region. On the evening of October 24, they were taken to Voronezh, threatening to send them to Rostov-on-Don, and from there to an assault on Avdeevka near Donetsk, where Russian troops had been attacking for two weeks. From the words of another informant, the number of detainees could be even higher, because there were 11 Ural trucks in the convoy. 50 prisoners were taken out of Rassypnoye after a lawyer arrived directly there. “At first I went to Zaitsevo, but there was no one in Zaitsevo, and I found out that they were being held in Rassypnoye. I drove up to the premises, it looked like a school building. I went straight to the fence. A military man looked out from behind the fence. I walked up, knocked, and showed my lawyer’s ID. I told him: I know for sure that my clients are here, I want to talk to them, he didn’t even look. He says “wait” and leaves. He came and said: “there’s no one here.” I ask: what are you doing here with weapons then? He repeated again: “there is no one here and leave here,” he told ASTRA. “My husband is mobilised, he refused to go on the offensive on Makeyevka. They were placed in Zaitsevo. Then, apparently, there was a check and they were driven around for 9 hours and returned back to the “LPR” [so-called Lugansk People’s Republic]. Today he managed to call from someone else’s number. They are near Kursk, waiting for a car to Rostov. As I understand it, from there the plane will be in the direction of Avdeevka. He said that they called the prosecutor’s office, but they were told: an order is an order. The local military police are threatening the riot police that they will still go to the front, but already beaten,” the wife of one of the inmates told the same media.
The lawyer hired by the families was not allowed to see the protesters, they were denied medical aid. A group of men who were taken to the Voronezh airfield Baltimore, according to their relatives, “stood up and said: call anyone, we won’t go anywhere from here.” This was already at the very end of the day. More than 30 of those taken there refused to board the plane to Rostov and waited for the military prosecutors. “They give them the wrong weapon, no one knows why, they take everything, half of it has already been sent on the plane. They were intimidated to such an extent that people stopped standing their ground. Were sent without documents. My husband is still waiting for the prosecutor, but it is unknown how this will end,” a relative of a military man told ASTRA. By that time, some of the refusers had already been transferred to Rostov, having taken away their belongings, including telephones and equipment purchased with personal funds. At 23:46 Moscow time, those who refused to board were taken back to Voronezh, but those who flew to Rostov had to go to Avdeevka.
According to the latest data, 35 refusers from regiments 488, 283 and 254, who did not board the plane, were returned to Voronezh. As of yesterday, October 25, they were at the Pogonovo training ground, where two commanders of the 254th regiment were threatening them to return. “We were told that we would be zeroed out, that is, they would shoot us. Because we know a lot,” one of them told ASTRA. He later added that three of the soldiers are runaway from this base.
We continue to monitor the situation.
Recently, our journal has already told about the kidnapping of Ukrainians trying to leave the country without permission and their torture by the military for the purpose of mobilization.
In addition to this, you are welcome to take a look at our story about a delivery service operator in Kharkiv being criminally prosecuted for feeding people for free.