Protests against partial mobilization
More than 1,000 arrested across Russia
After the partial mobilization, the Russian authorities gave a preventive warning to opponents of the war: they face 15 years in prison. Nevertheless, in several Russian cities, people are taking to the streets. Activists report more than 1,000 arrests.
According to activists, more than 1,000 people have been arrested across the country during demonstrations against the partial mobilization in Russia. At least 1,054 people were arrested Wednesday during spontaneous protests in at least 38 cities, according to OVD-Info, which documents arrests in Russia. These are the largest protests in Russia since the demonstrations that took place at the end of February after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
Journalists from the AFP news agency observed dozens of arrests in the capital Moscow and the second largest city of St. Petersburg in the evening. At least 50 people were arrested on a shopping street in central Moscow, AFP reporters noted. In the center of St. Petersburg, the police filled an entire bus with detainees.
“I don’t want to shoot”
Demonstrators shouted “No to war” and “No to mobilization”. “Everyone is afraid,” said protester Vasily Fedorov in St. Petersburg. “I’m for peace and I don’t want to shoot.” But in Russia it is “very dangerous” to take to the streets for these demands – “otherwise there would be a lot more people”.
“Why do you serve Putin? A man who has been on his throne for 20 years,” another protester shouted at the police. “I fear for myself and my brother, who is 25 years old and has completed his military service,” said student Oksana Sidorenko. “He can be summoned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this morning that Russians of military age will be partially mobilized. Around 300,000 reservists are to be sent to bolster Russian and separatist forces in eastern and southern Ukraine, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. According to Shoigu, up to 25 million people could be mobilized – that’s the total number of reservists in Russia.
Navalny: Putin is throwing Russian citizens into a meat grinder
Faced with massive state repression in Russia, protesters are taking great risks. For example, in the capital Moscow, the authorities warned against participation even before the start of the planned demonstration: the public prosecutor threatened people with up to 15 years in prison. Since the start of the war against Ukraine nearly seven months ago, the Russian government has been cracking down on opposition members and opponents of the war, including tightening laws.
Kremlin opponent Alexei Navlany, who was imprisoned in a penal camp, said during a court appearance that President Vladimir Putin’s “criminal war” is getting worse and worse. Putin wants to involve as many people as possible in the bloodshed in Ukraine, Navalny said at a hearing on his prisoner rights. “To extend his own power, he is tearing apart a neighboring country, killing people there. And now he is throwing a huge number of Russian citizens into a meat grinder,” Navalny said.
The politician, according to a statement by Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Jarmysch, criticized the fact that non-participating reservists were called into the war instigated by Putin, but that the Kremlin did not send an army of one million to the battle. “One thing I don’t understand. The Army has a million people, the National Guard has 350,000, and the Department of the Interior has another one and a half to two million – and that many in the prison system. Why are they pulling citizens?” Navalny asked.