March 30, 2023

Photos and videos show police cracking down on protesters in multiple cities. with footage Several demonstrators are escorted by police and authorities at a protest in central Moscow in St. Petersburg, trying to control the crowd chanting “no mobilization” outside Isakivskyi Cathedral.

Police detained protesters in 38 Russian cities on Wednesday, according to figures released shortly after midnight by the independent monitoring group OVD-Info. Maria Kuznetsova, spokeswoman for the group, said in a phone call with CNN that some protesters arrested by riot police in at least four Moscow police stations are being drafted directly into the Russian military.

He said one of the detainees was threatened with prosecution for refusing the draft. The government says the penalty for refusing the draft is now 15 years in prison. According to OVD-Info, of the more than 1,300 people detained nationwide, more than 500 were in Moscow and more than 520 in St. Petersburg.

The protests followed a morning speech by Putin, in which he laid out a plan that raises the stakes of his war in Ukraine with the Russian people, at a time when a sudden counteroffensive from Kiev has retaken thousands of square miles of territory and put Moscow on the backfoot. Experts say its forces have been significantly reduced.
According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the announced “partial mobilization” will call up 300,000 reservists. Putin said those with military experience would be subject to recruitment, and stressed that the decree – which has already been signed – is “necessary to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”

The decree itself does not apply only to the reserved. This allows for “calling up”. [of] Citizens of the Russian Federation for military service by joining the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

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

Anxiety was palpable among Russian citizens on Wednesday, travel agency websites showed Dramatic increase in demand for flights In a place where the Russians are not needed Visa flight sales websites indicate direct flights to such countries sold out at least until Friday
Riot police detain a protester during an anti-war protest in Moscow, Russia, on September 21
The protests, most of which appeared to draw a few dozen people, were another strong signal of the frustration felt by some. Dissent is usually quickly crushed in Russia, and authorities have imposed further restrictions on free speech since the invasion of Ukraine.

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

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

Video from Yekaterinburg, western Russia, shows police scuffling with several protesters. CNN could not independently verify the footage from any of the cities.

Another video, posted by a journalist from Moscow internet publication The Village, shows dozens of people chanting “let him go” on Arbatskaya street as one is being led away.

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Moscow’s prosecutor’s office on Wednesday also warned against distributing information urging citizens to join or participate in protests — reminding people they could face up to 15 years in prison.

Putin’s announcement of “partial mobilization” was condemned by Western leaders, many of whom met during the inauguration. United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

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

Ukraine remained defiant in the face of the announcement, with President Volodymyr Zelensky telling UNGA in a pre-recorded speech on Wednesday that Russia was “afraid of real (peace) talks” and pointing to what he characterized as Russian “lies”.

Zelensky said Russia “talks about negotiations but declares a military mobilization.” “Russia wants war.”

Katya Krebs, Uliana Pavlova, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Anastasia Graham-Yule, Sugam Pokharel, Claire Sebastian, Idris Muktar and Stephanie Halas contributed to this report.

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