Russia Arms Anti-War Protesters Amid Nationwide Demonstrations: Watchdog


More than 1,300 people were detained across Russia on Wednesday for taking part in nationwide anti-war protests after President Vladimir Putin announced — some directly conscripted into the military, according to a monitoring group, “Partial mobilization” Citizens for him Staggering invasion of Ukraine.

Images and videos show police cracking down on protesters in several cities. with visuals A demonstration in central Moscow showed several protesters being escorted by police and authorities in St. Petersburg.

Police arrested protesters in 38 Russian cities on Wednesday, according to figures released after midnight by independent watchdog OVD-Info. Maria Kuznetsova, a spokeswoman for the group, told CNN by phone that at least four police stations in Moscow said some of the protesters arrested by riot police were directly drafted into Russia’s military.

One of the prisoners has been threatened with prosecution for refusing to be drafted, he said. The government has said that the penalty for refusing the draft is now 15 years in prison. According to OVD-Info, of the more than 1,300 detained across the country, more than 500 were in Moscow and more than 520 in St. Petersburg.

More than half of the detained protesters were women, OVD-Info added, making it the largest anti-government protest involving women in recent history. However, the watchdog noted that the full extent of the arrests was not known.

Among those arrested were nine journalists and 33 minors, one of whom was “horribly beaten” by law enforcement, it said.

The demonstrations followed Putin’s Wednesday morning address in which he laid out a plan to raise the stakes of his war in Ukraine, including on the Russian people. Sudden counterattack Recaptured thousands of square miles of territory from Kiev and pushed Moscow back. Experts say Russian forces were present significantly reduced.

See “Partial Aggregation” announced 300,000 bookers According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the call was made. Putin, who said those with military experience would be conscripted, insisted the already-signed decree was necessary “to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”

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Putin’s order appears to allow for a broader mobilization than he suggested in his speech.

The first paragraph talks about “partial mobilization,” but does not define who is eligible, as Russia’s president noted in his speech. Rather, it states that it does not apply only to those who are ineligible due to age, illness or incarceration.

Ekaterina Shulman, a Russian political scientist and fellow at the Chatham House think tank, said in Telegram that the decree “describes aggregation as a region,” which “does not set the parameters of this regional or categorical discrimination.”

“According to this text, anyone except those working in the military-industrial complex, who are exempted from their term of service, can be called up. The address states, but not the decree, that mobilization applies only to reservists or those who possess certain required skills.

Russian human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said the decree sets out the mobilization “in broad terms”.

“The president leaves it to the discretion of the defense minister. So it is actually the Russian Ministry of Defense that decides who will be sent to war, where and in what numbers,” Chikov said in Telegram.

The ultimate significance of the apparent contradiction remains unclear. It remains to be seen whether the Kremlin has the appetite for a broader mobilization across the populace.

During his speech on Wednesday, Putin also raised fears of nuclear weapons, saying he would use “all means at our disposal” if he deemed Russia’s “territorial integrity” threatened. He also endorsed the referendum on joining Russia that Russian-appointed leaders in Ukraine’s four occupied regions announced would be held this week.

Anxiety among Russian citizens was evident Wednesday, as travel agency websites show Dramatic increase in demand for flights One for places where the Russians don’t need it visa Airline websites indicated that direct flights to such countries were sold out till Friday.

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On Thursday, a spokesperson for the European Commission acknowledged that there had been a large number of requests by Russian citizens seeking entry to EU countries. They said that the European Union is planning to establish a common position on this issue.

The European Commission also noted that, for now, each member state must evaluate entry requests on a case-by-case basis, and that the management of the EU’s external borders must be carried out in accordance with EU law and comply with the “fundamentals”. All laws on rights and asylum procedures are in place.

The protests in Russia, most of which seemed to draw a few dozen people, were another strong signal of the desperation felt by some. Dissent in Russia is usually quickly crushed and the authorities put more Restrictions on freedom of speech Following the invasion of Ukraine.

Footage from social media showed many protesters in Ulan Ude, eastern Siberia, chanting “No war! No mobilization!” and “Our husbands, fathers and brothers do not want to kill other husbands and fathers!”

“We want our fathers, husbands and brothers to be alive … not to leave their children as orphans. Stop the war, don’t take our people away!” said one protester.

Video from Yekaterinburg in western Russia shows police fighting with several protesters. CNN could not independently verify footage from either city.

Another video, released by a journalist from Moscow online publication The Village, shows dozens of people chanting “Let him go” on Arbatskaya Street.

The Moscow prosecutor’s office on Wednesday warned citizens against joining protests or distributing information calling for participation – reminding people that they could face up to 15 years in prison.

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Asked on Thursday about reports that people detained at anti-war rallies had been handed subpoenas to be drafted into the army, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the practice was “not against the law. There is no violation of law here,” he said.

Putin’s “partial demobilization” announcement was condemned on Wednesday by Western leaders, many of whom met at the start. United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

In a rare joint statement, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen agreed that Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization of Russian citizens was a sign of “weakness”.

EU foreign ministers agreed to push ahead with a deal in New York A new round of obstacles against Russia, EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell told reporters.

Ukraine countered Putin’s announcement, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying in a pre-recorded speech to the UNGA on Wednesday that Russia “fears real (peace) talks” and pointing to what he described as Russian “lies”.

Russia “talks about negotiations but announces a military mobilization,” Zelensky said. “Russia loves war.”

On Thursday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Putin’s “partial mobilization” only strengthens the country’s support for Ukraine. French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said his country would continue its support for Ukraine in terms of weapons and training, but said France needed cooperation within NATO.

Meanwhile, an analysis by researchers at the Institute for War Studies said the move No significant impact Regarding the immediate end of the war.

The analysis said it would take weeks or months to bring reservists to combat readiness, that Russian reservists were “poorly trained to begin with” and that the “deliberately constructed positions” outlined by Russia’s defense minister could “prevent anything”. A sudden arrival of Russian forces that could dramatically turn the tide of the war.

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