Although the winter cold in Ukraine is already coming to an end and the worst blackouts are behind us, our team still needs funds to work on this international column and offline volunteer activities. Welcome to join the fundraising if you haven’t already at this link. Many thanks everyone in advance!
With the approaching first anniversary of the outbreak of the largest war in Europe since WW2, all politicians, analysts and observers vying with each other draw conclusions from past events and build predictions for the future. If so, let’s just remember how we ended the 17th edition of this review – the last one last year. Moreover, the forecast about the beginning of 2023 with a new Battle of Verdun, which is the Russian offensive in the Donetsk region, has already been confirmed. Ahead, respectively, is an analogue of the Battle of Somme – the Ukrainian counteroffensive:
“The Kremlin regime has got into trouble, and is already aware of this. But it cannot break the impasse – the Russian ruling class is too entangled in this bloody web. Forcing Kyiv to agree to an honorable peace for the Kremlin by destroying the energy infrastructure does not work. It remains to repeat the Verdun experiment, with the hope that it will not turn out like in 1916.
Historically, Russia ended unsuccessful wars due to defeats not at the front, but in the rear. During the Crimean War, the allies captured Sevastopol at a high cost, but failed to destroy the Russian army. The main threat to tsarism was not the Anglo-French expeditionary forces, but the exponentially growing number of peasant uprisings and the empty treasury. This was repeated during the Russo-Japanese War. Tsushima, Port Arthur and Mukden were a humiliation for the empire, but its military and economic potential was still much higher than that of Japan. It was the revolution in St. Petersburg and Moscow that forced Nicholas II to sign the difficult Peace of Portsmouth, and not the power of the Mikado. In World War I, the end of the war also came thanks to the rear, not the front. The revolutions in Russia, Germany, Hungary, the revolutionary situation in France, Italy and even Britain turned out to be more important than guns and flamethrowers.
Now the role of the rear in ending the war is discussed much less than the fighting. And this is a big mistake. The protest of the mobilized or their relatives, the steady decline in support for the war and the discrediting of the regime in the eyes of ordinary Russians are more important for the cause of peace than tanks, aviation and the famous HIMARS.”
Vladimir Romanenko, a journalist of KP.ru, committed information sabotage against one of the largest Russian publications by posting honest news about the war on its website: “Russian activists continue to resist the Putin regime despite repressions”, “Peace does not come because of Putin”, “Putin ordered the bombing of peaceful cities in Ukraine.” The newsmaker left Russia after the start of mobilization, despite the reservation provided by the media, he worked in the editorial office only for the sake of money and did not agree with the censorship and policies. But at some point, beliefs became more valuable than income.
Most of all among the radical acts, the rail guerilla has gained momentum since the beginning of the year. Russian authorities routinely claim that this is being done for money offered in messengers by Ukrainian special services and neo-Nazis, but no proofs has yet been shown. However, even if this is true, the amounts reportedly offered for the actions are really symbolic compared to the money for service in the invading troops…
On the night of January 16, were burned the four relay cabinets on the East Siberian Railway near Ulan-Ude (a similar attack took place near the capital of Buryatia on January 13). The fire was put out by the firefighters. It turned out that at first the cabinet was opened, and only then set on fire. The arsonists also tried to open the main cabinets, but the locks there were stronger. The arson did not affect the movement of trains – no delays were recorded. The total amount of damage is more than 350 thousand rubles – these actions caused a delay of freight trains for 40 minutes. After the second arson, the punishers came to the suspects, who became known on January 18. They are teenagers from Ulan-Ude: 17-year-old Daniil S., 18-year-old Konstantin K. and 19-year-old Evgeniy G. According to investigators, the suspects found a Telegram chat where they were offered to earn money. For this setting fire they allegedly received 30 thousand rubles. Now teenagers are accused under Art. 281 of the Criminal Code – “sabotage”.
On the evening of January 18, were set on fire relay cabinets near Vladivostok (the left side of photo below). The movement of goods and military trains in the Primorsky Krai was suspended. The next night, someone burned such blocks on the Trans-Siberian Railway near Krasnoyarsk (right side there). Both cases were claimed by the All-People’s Movement of the Legion “Freedom of Russia”. (Just in case, we recall that to cover the activities of this centrist association of various pro-Ukrainian opposition does not mean that we share their views in everything).
On the night of January 23, an unknown one set fire to a signal box at the Surazh station in the Bryansk region. Fire-damaged equipment at the crossing is said to be beyond repair. Thus, it disrupted the train traffic in the border area.
Back on December 24, the pro-Kremlin media of Ivanovo wrote about the detention of several teenagers in this city for the torched relay cabinet in this city: “The proposal of “set fire to the booth” on the railway found in the group on the social network; an unknown customer promised to pay more than 10 thousand rubles, if a photo and video of the arson is presented. High school students doused the booth with gasoline, set fire, photographed and sent to the customer. Money for arson on the same day entered the arsonists’ account. In addition to “setting up the booth” in the social network group there were also proposals to set fire to a train or even organize an explosion at life objects for a larger “fee”, but the schoolchildren did not agree to this”. A criminal case was opened for intentional destruction of property by arson; рunishment – up to 5 years in prison. Then, on the evening of January 25, a diesel locomotive, which was standing at the station in Ivanovo, still burned down. With this video, “Freedom of Russia” affirms that the driver’s cab was set on fire.
On January 30, information appeared that three eighth-graders were detained who damaged the railway track in the Moscow region on the stage of the Kursk direction. According to the FSB, unknown persons in the messenger promised the teenagers money for this. Perhaps these are the youngest partisans among all those previously reported.
On the night of February 1, relay cabinets were attacked on the Ivanovo-Kostroma stretch. Also a day earlier, “Freedom of Russia” supporters destroyed a traction substation near the Matveev Kurgan station. The next attack, which came on February 4 from the Republic of Karelia, was committed by the Green Gendarmerie group and also published by legionnaires:
On the night of February 7, in the Bessonovsky district of the Penza region, an electrical panel was set on fire on the Grabovo-Bessonovka stretch. The police discovered a burned-out relay cabinet powering the railroad after a dispatcher reported it was malfunctioning. Only fireproof parts of the shield and footprints were found at the site. Trains were suspended until the morning. A case was opened on intentional damage to someone else’s property (Art. 167 of the Criminal Code). Then four suspects were detained in the same region. Of course, investigators says that the arson was committed for a reward. They are three guys, among them a student of the Penza State University of Architecture and Construction, as well as a 16-year-old teenager. Three of them are in jail, and the teenager was “placed under observation”.
On February 10, a Belarusian court passed a sentence on the rail guerrillas. On March 30, 2022, the punishers with shooting detained three residents of Bobruisk, who were trying to stop the supply of the aggressor army. One of the detainees was seriously injured; the enemies also posted a video of the interrogation of bound wounded prisoners in some basement. The detainees were accused of setting fire to two relay cabinets between the Sovetsky and Vereytsy platforms in the Osipovichi district. Dmitry Klimov and Vladimir Avramtsev were sentenced to 22 years in prison, Yevgeny Minkevich was given 1,5 years in prison and released (with the time spent in custody, the term is considered served). Here’s what it looked like:
On the night of February 12, someone blocked the turnout on the railway line between Molodi and Stolbovaya stations in the Moscow region. To do this, the visitor used a stubborn bookmark and tied the translation with a thick wire. The driver of a passing train noticed an act of resistance. The sabouter was dressed in camouflage and did not have a signal vest. A few days later, the FSB stated about the capture of some Ukrainian citizen involved in sabotage at the Moscow Railway. The man, born in 1977, is allegedly an agent of the Security Service of Ukraine, was recruited in Poland and arrived in Russia through Latvia under the guise of a refugee in the fall of 2022. The detainee set fire to transport infrastructure facilities.
If believe to a report from February 18, at once eight underage arsonists were captured in the Kaliningrad region. At that time, the searches had already been carried out at the homes of four 14-year-old boys, three of them study at school and one at a closed facility. A criminal case has been initiated under the article “Deliberate damage to property.” The damage is estimated at 480 thousand rubles.
Destruction of luxury Z-cars, associated precisely with the semi-swastika on them, took place in different cities. This one was on the night of January 26 in Tver:
Also at the end of January was targeted Toyota Land Cruiser on Altufevskoe highway in Moscow. Alas, the suspect was soon arrested. “The police worked quickly. At two o’clock the car was set on fire, in the evening of the same day they took a friend. He is 18 years old, he has a previous conviction. The letter Z prevented him from living. This is a moral and financial loss. I think he is unlikely to have enough health and money to restore vehicle,” the owner said.
Another Z-car burned on the night of February 2 in the military town of Shchelkovo near Moscow. Also, someone broke the windshield:
On the night of February 16, a parked SUV in Chertanovo (Moscow) was damaged. Someone smashed the windows of the Mercedes with an ax, chopped down the doors, and filled the interior with blue paint:
Administrative buildings get fire too. On February 6, an incendiary attack was reported on the inter-districtal department of the Russian Investigative Committee in Buryatia. The wooden building caught fire like a match, but firefighters quickly managed to put out. Oleg Alexandrov, 56, from the village of Kyren, armed himself with a canister and set fire to the back side of a one-story wooden building but it was extinguished in just 10 minutes, no one was injured. A criminal case has been initiated under “deliberate destruction or damage to property.” The suspect’s motives are being established. It is known that Aleksandrov was previously convicted many times for theft, violence against a government official, illegal possession of weapons and threatening to kill:
In the early hours of February 9, an unknown person attempted to set fire to an enlistment office in Omsk. Five bottles of pomegranate juice with kerosene and gasoline were used. Three of them smashed a second-story window, but the fuse of all of them fell off or went out in flight. It is also unclear whether the open bottle of vodka, which was subsequently found in the office, was part of the attack, or whether the military commissar simply likes to drink after work. Employees on duty came running to the noise of a broken window, so the action could not be completed.
At once about two sentences in mid-February it became known from the Rostov region. In Rostov-on-Don, were convicted 24-year-old Oleg Denisov and 22-year-old Irina Kuznetsova for allegedly setting a Z-car on fire in July last year. The car was completely destroyed, and the total damage amounted to more than 700 thousand rubles. Denisov got 2 years 8 months, and Kuznetsova – 2 years 7 months to be served in a colony-settlement. In addition, a 19-year-old resident of the Rostov region was given four years in prison. He allegedly “arranged via the Internet with an unidentified “curator” to take part in setting fire to the enlistment office for a reward of 3,000 rubles.” The guy was found guilty of hooliganism and attempted deliberate destruction of another’s property.
29-year-old turner Roman P. from the village of Magdagachi was detained in the Amur region. The young man wanted to burn down the archival office in the military commissariat of this district, where a card index with the data of conscripts is stored, but only the window unit and technical equipment near the window were damaged, where the bottle fell. The novel pleaded guilty, but does not cover the motives of the act. A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the building on the night of February 11.
In Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, an unidentified person tried to set fire to the 7th judicial precinct. It was noticed on February 13 – traces of burning were found on the window of the building on Gabisheva Street. The fire almost immediately went out, hitting only the corner of the frame. The property was not damaged. The arsonist in black clothes got on surveillance cameras when he ran near the building:
A 35-year-old teacher from Kansk in the Krasnoyarsky Krai told last week about the torture. He had a nervous breakdown after the news of the mobilization, he shot a banner advertising a contract service, and also threatened a bystander. After his arrest, he did not deny his guilt. However, during the arrest, the punishers forced him to confess to the arson of the military commissariat, committed in Kansk on the night of September 23-24. From the detainee’s words, he was beaten on the head, tortured with electric current, put a plastic bag over his head and wrapped it with tape. His mother said that the man was very worried about the war and did not want the soldiers to die.
Cases of desertion with and without weapons are very numerous, so we will limit ourselves to only a few stories. On January 17, the police of the Lipetsk region of Russia sent out orientations to 31-year-old private Dmitry Perov, who fled from his regiment in Ukraine and went to his mother in Voronezh. The soldier was shot dead allegedly because resisted arrest. He left the house with an assault rifle, grenades and explosives:
Another notable incident allegedly took place in the Lugansk region: according to the interception of conversations published in mid-February by Ukrainian intelligence, 44 mobilized Russians tried to escape near Svatovo but were caught by PMC Wagner mercenaries. No more details. Along with this, one of the main Russian military experts, monarchist leader Igor Strelkov-Girkin, noted on February 10 in his Telegram channel that “a battalion of Tuvan nomads refused to take position” somewhere on the Donetsk front. Two days later, he posted that “following the Tuvan battalion, after complaints to Kazan, the Tatarstan volunteer battalion was removed from the front and sent home. Not a single volunteer battalion from the “Russian” regions of the RF has yet been removed from the front, despite the same problems and appeals to “their” governors”.
And just an amazing story about solidarity beyond national borders, which even The Economist could not pass by. Two residents of Chukotka on a boat fled from the mobilization through the Bering Strait in the USA. Sergei and Maxim almost died in a storm at first, then were sent to the detention center and spent more than three months in a cell for 70 people. They got out of there thanks to a local pastor of Ukrainian origin: he is respected in the community for his kindness and honesty, so his word was decisive for the release of refugees. The men were accommodated in his house, they were allowed to stay in the United States and in a few months will receive a work permit. The guys fled from Siberia after attempts to hand them subpoenas. At the same time, Sergei previously had problems with the FSB, which suspected him of political extremism and took a written undertaking not to leave.
Preparations for the autumn wave of mobilization in Russia began back in the summer and lasted until the last minute, they had to throw newcomers into battle so that the front would not collapse everywhere. If Russia is not planning its own major offensive, they will delay mobilization as long as possible; if it does, they will announce it in the spring, possibly simultaneously with the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. We will see what time will tell…
From other hand, we wrote a lot this winter about how Ukrainian military commissars arrange safaris for conscripts at work places and on the way to enterprises.
In addition, you can look at our little analysis of local judicial pracrice on convictions for military evasion.