December 8, 2022


More than 1,300 people were arrested across Russia on Wednesday for participating in nationwide anti-war protests — with some being directly drafted into the military, according to a monitoring group, after leader Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of citizens for it. falter invasion From Ukraine.

Pictures and videos show police cracking down on protesters in several cities. with clips Several protesters appear at a demonstration in central Moscow being taken away by police and authorities in Saint Petersburg in an attempt to contain a crowd chanting “No to mobilization” outside Isakiivskiy Cathedral.

Police detained protesters in 38 cities in Russia on Wednesday, according to figures released shortly after midnight by independent monitoring group OVD-Info. At least four police stations in Moscow, some of the protesters arrested by riot police were directly recruited into the Russian army, spokeswoman for the group Maria Kuznetsova told CNN.

She said one of the detainees was threatened with prosecution for refusing to enlist. The government said the penalty for rejecting the bill is now 15 years in prison. Of the more than 1,300 people arrested across the country, more than 500 were in Moscow and more than 520 in Saint Petersburg, according to OVD-Info.

The demonstrations came on the heels of Putin’s morning speech, in which he laid out a plan that would increase the risks of his war in Ukraine, including for the Russian people, at a time when a surprise counterattack from Kyiv regained control of thousands of square miles of territory and put Moscow in the lead. Experts say its forces are largely exhausted.

According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the announced “partial mobilization” will see the recall of 300,000 reservists. Putin said those with military experience would be subject to conscription, and stressed that the decree – which has already been signed – is necessary “to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The decree itself does not only apply to reservists. It allows ‘summon [of] Citizens of the Russian Federation for military service by mobilization in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

Putin raised the specter of nuclear weapons during his speech, saying he would use “every means available to us”, if he considered Russia’s “territorial integrity” to be endangered. He also supported the referendums on joining Russia that Russia-appointed leaders in the four occupied regions of Ukraine announced they would hold this week.

Concern among Russian citizens was evident on Wednesday, as travel agency websites showed a Significant increase in demand for flights To the places where the Russians do not need visa. Flight sale sites indicate that direct flights to these countries are sold until at least Friday.

Riot police arrest a protester during an anti-war demonstration in Moscow, Russia on September 21.

The protests, most of which seemed to attract a few dozen people, were another strong sign of the desperation some feel. Dissent is usually quickly crushed in Russia, and authorities have imposed further restrictions on free speech in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Social media footage showed several protesters in Ulan-Ude, eastern Siberia, holding placards reading “No to war! No to mobilization!” and “Our husbands, fathers and brothers don’t want to kill other husbands and fathers!”

We want our fathers, our husbands and our brothers to survive…and not leave their children as orphans. Stop the war and do not take our people! One of the protesters said.

A video clip from Yekaterinburg in western Russia showed police clashing with a number of protesters. CNN was unable to independently verify the footage from either city.

Another video posted online by a journalist from the newspaper The Village in Moscow shows dozens of people on Arbatskaya Street chanting “Let him go” while one is carried away.

On Wednesday, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office also warned citizens against joining the protests or publishing information calling for participation – reminding people that they could face up to 15 years in prison.

Western leaders denounced Putin’s announcement of “partial mobilization”, many of whom had gathered at the opening of the conference United Nations General Assembly (United Nations General Assembly) in New York.

In a rare joint statement, British Prime Minister Liz Truss and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that they both agreed that Putin’s announcement of the partial mobilization of Russian citizens was a sign of “weakness”.

Ukraine has remained defiant in the face of the declaration, with President Volodymyr Zelensky telling the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded address on Wednesday that Russia “fears real (peace) negotiations” and referred to what he called Russian “lies”.

Zelensky said Russia was “talking about talks but announcing a military mobilization”. Russia wants war.

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