Russian police dispersed peaceful protests against President Vladimir Putin’s army mobilization orderhundreds of people, some of them children, were arrested across the country, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Russians that their president was deliberately “bringing citizens to their deaths”.
Police have arrested nearly 750 people, including more than 370 in Moscow and about 150 in St Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, an independent website that tracks political arrests in Russia. Some of those arrested were minors, OVD-Info said Saturday.
Protests erupted within hours on Wednesday after Putin announced the call for 300,000 reservists in a move to bolster his forces fighting in Ukraine. This move comes after the Russian military met defeat on the battlefield in Ukraine. A Russian general in charge of supplies at the Ukrainian frontline was replaced on Saturday.
Police deployed in cities where demonstrations were held by the jailed opposition group Vesna and supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, quickly arresting protesters before they could organize protest organization.
Ukraine’s president in a late-night speech called for Moscow’s forces to surrender, saying they would “be treated in a civilized manner… no one would know the circumstances of your surrender”.
The comments came just hours after Russia passed a law guilty of voluntarily surrendering, deserting, sentenced to 10 years in prison.
A separate law was also signed on Saturday, making it possible for foreigners to enlist in the Russian military for at least a year, bypassing the usual requirement of a five-year residency in the country.
Russia officially considers millions of former conscripts as reservists – most of them men of combat age – and the “partial mobilization” provides no criteria for who will be called up.
Reports have emerged of men with no military experience or over age for enlistment receiving calls to enlist, adding to the outrage that has sparked anti-war protests.
Criticism seems to be spreading
Criticism also seems to be widespread among Putin’s supporters. The head of the Russian President’s human rights commission, Valery Fadeyev, has called on Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to stop the brutal way in which many drafting committees are being carried out.
The editor-in-chief of Russia’s pro-Kremlin broadcaster RT also expressed anger at the new recruitment. “They are pissing people off, as if on purpose, as if defying. As if they were sent by Kyiv,” she said.
In another rare sign of instability, the Defense Ministry said the deputy minister in charge of logistics, four-star General Dmitry Bulgakov, had been replaced “to move to a different role”, without giving further details.
When the men lined up to try leave town Founded on Russia’s borders, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivered a fiery speech at the United Nations General Assembly speech accusing Western nations of seeking to “destroy” the country. this family.
“Official Russian phobia in the West is unprecedented, now its scope is ridiculous,” said Lavrov.
“They did not shy away from declaring their intention to inflict not only a military defeat on our country, but also the destruction and disintegration of Russia.”
Meanwhile, Russia celebrated the second day of the so-called referendum in four occupied regions of Ukraine and is likely to formally annex one territory next week.
Kyiv and the West have denounced the votes as a sham and say the pro-merger results are pre-determined.
This week, Mr Putin warned that Moscow would use “any means” to defend its territory, which former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said on social media could include the use of “nuclear weapons”. strategy”.
The annexation raised concerns that Russia could then view any military move over the occupied areas as an attack on its territory.