In Russia, people took to the streets after Vladimir Putin

In Russia, people took to the streets after Vladimir Putin

Thousands of people have been arrested in cities across Russia to protest President Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilize 300,000 troops to fight in the war in Ukraine.

Putin’s speech sparked protests in at least 37 cities, including St. Petersburg and the capital Moscow, according to the independent Russian human rights group OVD-Info.

Journalists in Moscow witnessed at least a dozen arrests in the first 15 minutes of a protest, as participants risked tough Russian laws on criticizing the military and the war.

Asked if the protests would help, a Muscovite who declined to give his name said: “It won’t help, but it’s my civic duty to express my position. No to war!”

In Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, police bused some of the 40 protesters detained at an anti-war rally.

O femeie în scaun cu rotile a strigat, referindu-se la președintele rus: „Nenorocitul de „nebun” chelios”. He’s going to drop a bomb on us and we’re all still protecting him. I have said enough”.

“Thousands of Russian men – our fathers, brothers and husbands – will be thrown into the meat grinder of war. What will they die for? What will mothers and children cry for?”, said the opposition movement Vesna, calling for demonstrations.

Unclear details regarding the mobilization

As calls for protest circulated online, Moscow’s prosecutor’s office warned that organizing or participating in such actions could lead to up to 15 years in prison.

Authorities have issued similar warnings ahead of other recent protests. However, Wednesday’s demonstrations were the first nationwide anti-war protests since the war began in late February.

Roskomnadzor, the state communications watchdog, also warned media that access to their websites would be blocked for transmitting “false information” about the mobilization. It was not clear what this meant.

Asked what had changed since he and others previously said no mobilization was planned, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was effectively fighting NATO because alliance members had supplied weapons to Kiev.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who also spoke on Russian television on Wednesday, said 5,937 Russian soldiers had died in the conflict, far fewer than Western estimates, writes EuroNews.