The 36-year-old Semak, who captained Russia at Euro 2008 where they reached semi-finals, last played for the national side in a friendly against Hungary in March 2010.
Italian Capello, who replaced Dutchman Dick Advocaat as Russia boss last month, decided he needed experienced players in a team that failed to advance past the group stage at Euro 2012, bringing back 34-year-old midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov.
The former England manager also recalled Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak and Anzhi Makhachkala winger Yuri Zhirkov among others in a 37-man squad after dropping the duo for this month's friendly against Ivory Coast.
Russia open their qualifying campaign at home to Northern Ireland on September 7 before facing Israel four days later.
- Dick Advocaat