Russian police break up peaceful protests against President Vladimir Putin’s army mobilization orderarresting hundreds of people across the country, including some children, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russians that their president deliberately “sends citizens to death”.
Police detained nearly 750 people, including more than 370 in the capital Moscow and about 150 in St Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, an independent website that monitors political arrests in Russia. Some of those arrested were minors, OVD-Info said on Saturday.
Protests erupted within hours on Wednesday after Putin announced a call for 300,000 reservists to bolster his troops fighting in Ukraine. The move comes after Russian troops suffered a battlefield setback in Ukraine. A Russian general who was handling supplies on the Ukrainian front was replaced on Saturday.
Opposition group Vesna and supporters of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny plan to deploy police in protesting cities to make quick arrests before demonstrators stage their protests them.
In a late-night speech, the Ukrainian president called on Moscow’s troops to surrender, saying they would be “treated civilly…no one will know about your surrender”.
The comments came hours after Russia passed a law Make voluntary surrender and abandonment crimes punishable by 10 years in prison.
Another law was also signed on Saturday to provide Russian citizenship to foreigners who have served in the Russian military for at least a year, bypassing the normal requirement to live in the country for five years.
Officials in Russia count millions of former conscripts as reservists — mostly a male population of combat age — and “partial mobilization” gives no criteria for who gets drafted.
Anger at anti-war demonstrations has been fueled by reports that men with no military experience or past draft age have received call-up papers.
Criticism appears to be spreading
Criticism also appears to be spreading among Putin’s supporters. The head of the Russian President’s Human Rights Commission, Valery Fadeyev, called on Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to stop the brutal ways that many drafting committees are doing.
The editor-in-chief of pro-Kremlin Russian TV station RT also expressed anger at the new hiring. “They angered people, as if it was intentional, as if it was malicious. It was as if they were sent from Kyiv,” she said.
In another rare sign of unrest, the defense ministry said four-star general Dmitry Bulgakov, the deputy minister for logistics, had been “transferred to another role,” without giving further details.
long queue of men trying to go abroad Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, established on the Russian border, delivered a fiery speech at the UN General Assembly, accusing the West of trying to “destroy” the country.
“The official Russophobia in the West has no precedent in history, and now the scope is absurd,” Lavrov said.
“They did not shy away from declaring their intent not only to cause a military defeat to our country, but also to destroy and divide Russia.”
Meanwhile, Russia staged a so-called second day referendum In four occupied regions of Ukraine, it appears that large swathes of the region will be formally annexed next week.
Kyiv and the West condemned the vote as a hoax and said the outcome in favor of annexation was predetermined.
Putin warned this week that Moscow would use “all means” to protect its territory, which former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said on social media could include the use of “strategic nuclear weapons.”
The annexation has raised concerns that Russia could view any military action in the occupied area as an attack on its territory.