22 September 2022

Over 1,300 people have been arrested in Russia during anti-war demonstrations

Protests broke out in major cities following Putin’s mobilisation on Wednesday.

Security forces detained more than 1,300 people in Russia on Wednesday at protests denouncing mobilisation, a rights group said, just hours after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s first military draft since the second world war.

According to the independent OVD-Info protest monitoring group, more than 1,311 people had been held by late evening in information collated from 38 Russian cities. Those figures included at least 502 in Moscow and 524 in St Petersburg, Russia’s two most populated cities. Unsanctioned protests are illegal under Russia’s anti-protest law.

In a statement quoted by Russian news agencies, Russian interior ministry official Irina Volk said officers had blocked attempts to stage what it labelled as small protests. “In a number of regions, there were attempts to stage unauthorised actions which brought together an extremely small number of participants,” Volk said. “These were all stopped. And those persons who violated laws were detained and taken to police stations for investigation and establish their responsibility.”

Following the news of Putin ordering the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists on Wednesday, one-way flights out of Russia saw their price skyrocket and were selling out fast

The Vesna opposition movement called for protests, saying: “Thousands of Russian men, our fathers, brothers and husbands, will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?”

The Moscow prosecution office warned the public that participating in protests could result in up to 15 years in prison. Authorities issued similar warnings in hopes of thwarting similar protests. The protests on Wednesday were the first nationwide anti-war protests since the fighting began in February.

AFP journalists in the centre of Moscow reported that a minimum of 50 people were arrested by police in riot gear on a main shopping street. In St Petersburg, AFP reporters saw police surround a small group of protestors and detain them one by one, loading them onto a bus.

“I came to say that I am against war and mobilisation,” Oksana Sidorenko, a student, told AFP. “Why are they deciding my future for me? I’m scared for myself, for my brother,” she added.

According to the Interfax news agency, the Russian interior ministry said it had stopped attempts to “organise unauthorised gatherings.” All the protests were stopped and those who committed “violations” were arrested and are now awaiting prosecution, it added.

  • Writer Chris Saunders Banner Image Credit

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