The Russian state is censoring relatives of mobilized Russian personnel on social media for fear of their protests' possible negative effects on Vladimir Putin's still unannounced 2024 presidential campaign, the Institute for the Study of War reported in their daily assessment on Dec. 3.
ISW cited a post from BBC Russia describing a series of online bots with fake profiles accusing the relatives of mobilized Russian personnel in their "Way Home" Telegram channels of having connections to imprisoned opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
According to the BBC, the "Way Home" group issued a manifesto late last month demanding an end to the "indefinite" mobilization. The group has appealed to the Russian government for the release of relatives from military service and better treatment of Russian servicemen.
In response, the Russian government has reportedly made efforts to censor this group by prohibiting them from protesting publicly.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's presidential campaign is expected not to focus on the war in Ukraine. The ISW suggested that the relatives of mobilized personnel represent one of the greatest threats to the campaign.
Additionally, the ISW reported on efforts by Ukrainian officials to involve international organizations in an investigation into an "execution" style killing of two surrendering Ukrainian soldiers.
Earlier this week, the Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine’s Armed Forces confirmed that Russian troops killed two Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered as prisoners of war (POW) in Donetsk Oblast.
In a video published by the Ukrainian DeepState Telegram channel on Dec. 2, a group of soldiers appear to kill two other soldiers emerging from a trench. One of the two had his hands behind his head.
The Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the violation of the rules and customs of war. Killing of POWs violates the Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime.
According to prosecutors, Russian troops entered Ukrainian positions near the village of Stepove in Donetsk Oblast. When two Ukrainian soldiers were forced to surrender, the Russian soldiers shot them dead.
The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations to investigate this violation of international law.