March 31, 2023

Protesters have been detained at rallies in 38 different cities, according to a police monitoring group
Protesters have been detained at rallies in 38 different cities, according to a police monitoring group

More than 1,300 people have been arrested in protests across Russia against President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization of civilians for the war in Ukraine, a police monitoring group said on Wednesday.

The OVD-INFO monitoring group detained at least 1,332 people at rallies in 38 different cities across the country following Putin’s morning address to the nation.

The protests were the largest in Russia since Moscow announced its military intervention in Ukraine in February.

At least 50 people wearing anti-riot gear were detained by police on a main shopping street in central Moscow, the Russian capital, AFP reporters said.

In Russia’s former imperial capital, St. Petersburg, AFP reporters saw police rounding up a small group of protesters and detaining them one by one, loading them onto a bus.

Demonstrators chanted “No Solidarity!”

“Everyone is scared. I’m for peace and I don’t want to shoot. But it’s too dangerous to come out now, otherwise there will be more people,” said protester Vasily Fedorov, a student wearing a pacifist symbol. the chest

“I came out to the rally planning to participate, but it seems they have already arrested everyone. This regime has condemned itself and is destroying its youth,” said Alexei, a 60-year-old resident who declined to give his last word. name

“Why are you serving Putin, who has been in power for 20 years!” A young protester yells at a policeman.

“I came to say that I am against war and mobilization,” one student, Oksana Sidorenko, told AFP.

“Why are they deciding my future for me? I am afraid for myself, for my brother,” he added.

Alina Skvortsova, 20, said she hopes Russians will soon understand the nature of the Kremlin’s attack on neighboring Ukraine.

“When they really understand, they will come out on the streets despite the fear,” he said.

The Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s Interior Ministry as saying it had canceled attempts to “organize unauthorized gatherings”.

All protests were called off and those who “violated” were arrested and led by the police pending investigation and trial, it added.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that Russia would initially mobilize around 300,000 reservists, after Putin warned in a televised address that Moscow would use all available military means in Ukraine.

Flights out of Russia were almost fully booked this week, airline and travel agent data showed Wednesday, in an apparent exodus of people unwilling to join the conflict.

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