Russian police have dispersed peaceful protests against President Vladimir Putin’s military mobilization orders, arresting hundreds across Ukraine, arresting hundreds more, including some children.
According to OVD-Info, an independent website that monitors political arrests in Russia, police have detained more than 370 people in the capital Moscow and about 750 people, including about 150 in St. Petersburg. According to OVD-Info, some of those arrested were minors.
On Wednesday, protests erupted within hours after Putin announced the call-up of 300,000 army reserves in a move to bolster his forces fighting in Ukraine. The move comes after Russian forces suffered a battlefield setback in Ukraine. A Russian general handling supplies on the Ukrainian frontline was replaced on Saturday.
Police were deployed in cities where protests were planned by supporters of opposition group Vesna and imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and swiftly arrested demonstrators before they could hold protests.
In a late-night speech, the Ukrainian president called on Moscow forces to surrender, stating that “they will be treated in a civilized manner … no one will know the circumstances of your surrender.”
The comments came just hours after Russia passed a law making voluntary surrender and desertion a crime punishable by 10 years in prison.
Another law signed on Saturday also facilitated Russian citizenship for foreigners who enlist in the Russian army for at least one year, bypassing the usual five-year residency requirement.
Russia officially counts millions of former conscripts as reservists, most of them male population of combat age, and “partial mobilization” gives no criteria as to who is drafted. Hmm.
Reports of men of military age with no or past military experience receiving call-up papers have surfaced, fueling the outrage that has revived anti-war demonstrations.
Criticism seems to be widespread.
Criticism seems to be spreading among Putin supporters. The head of the Russian President’s Human Rights Commission, Valery Fadeev, has called on Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to stop the brutal practices being pursued by many conscription commissions.
The editor-in-chief of pro-Kremlin Russian TV RT also expressed anger at the new hires. “As if on purpose, as if they were spiteful, they are infuriating people. As if they were sent from Kyiv,” she said.
In another rare sign of turmoil, the Defense Ministry said its deputy minister in charge of logistics, four-star General Dmitry Bulgakov, was replaced “to transfer it to another role,” but no further details. did not clarify.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered a fiery speech at the UN General Assembly accusing the West of trying to “destroy” the country as long lines of men formed on Russia’s borders to leave the country. did
“Official Russophobia in the West is unprecedented and now grotesque in scope,” Lavrov said.
“They do not hesitate to declare their intention not only to inflict military defeat on our country, but also to destroy and destroy Russia.”
Meanwhile, Russia appears set to hold a second day of so-called referendums in four territories occupied by Ukraine, formally annexing swaths of territory next week.
Kyiv and the West denounced the vote as a sham and said the outcome was predetermined in favor of annexation.
Putin warned earlier this week that Moscow would use “all means” to defend its territory, but former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said on social media that this could include using “strategic nuclear weapons”. said to be sexual.
The annexation raises concerns that Russia may view any military action in occupied territory as an attack on its own territory.