Russia conscripts anti-war protesters in nationwide demonstrations: monitoring group

Pictures and videos show police cracking down on demonstrators in multiple cities, with lens During a demonstration in central Moscow, several protesters were carried away by police and authorities in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg tried to control a crowd chanting “No mobilization” outside Isakiivskiy Cathedral.

Police detained protesters in 38 Russian cities on Wednesday, according to data released shortly after midnight by the independent monitoring group OVD-Info. The group’s spokeswoman, Maria Kuznetsova, told CNN by phone that there are at least four police stations in Moscow, where some protesters arrested by riot police were directly drafted into the army.

One of the detainees was charged for refusing to be called up, she said. The government says the penalty for refusing to recruit is now 15 years in prison. Of the more than 1,300 people detained across the country, more than 500 were in Moscow and more than 520 in St. Petersburg. According to OVD-Info, St. Petersburg.

OVD-Info also said that more than half of the publicly named detained protesters were women, making it the largest anti-government protest in recent history. However, the regulator specified that the full scale of the arrests remains unknown.

Nine journalists and 33 minors were also detained, it said, adding that one of the minors was “savagely beaten” by law enforcement.

Broader mobilization?

The demonstrations followed Putin’s speech Wednesday morning in which he laid out a plan to raise the stakes of his war in Ukraine, including for the Russian people, at a time when a sudden counteroffensive in Kyiv has recaptured thousands. square mile of territory and put Moscow on the back burner. Experts say Russia’s military is severely depleted.
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According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the announced “partial mobilization” will call in 300,000 reservists. Putin said those with military experience would be drafted, stressing that the decree that had been signed was necessary “to protect our homeland, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Putin’s decree appears to allow for a wider mobilization than he suggested in his speech.

The first paragraph talks about “partial mobilization,” but doesn’t define those who qualify as narrowly as the Russian leader did in his speech. Instead, it says the only people who don’t apply are those who are ineligible because of age, illness or incarceration.

Catherine Schulman, a Russian political scientist and associate researcher at the Chatham House think tank, said on Telegram that while the decree “describes the mobilization as partial,” it “sets no parameters for such partial or categorization.” “.

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“According to the text, anyone can be called up except for those working in the military-industrial complex, who are exempt during their employment. Mobilization is only for reservists or those with certain particularly necessary skills, which is in the address, but Not in the statute.”

Russian human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said the decree regulates mobilization “from the broadest possible perspective”.

“The president will be at the discretion of the defense minister. So it will actually be up to the Russian Ministry of Defense to decide who will be sent to the war, from where and in how many people,” Chikov said on Telegram.

The ultimate significance of this apparent difference is unclear. It remains to be seen whether the Kremlin is interested in a broader mobilization among ordinary civilians.

Protesters urge end to war

In his speech on Wednesday, Putin also raised the specter of nuclear weapons, saying he would use “all means at our disposal” if he believed Russia’s “territorial integrity” was threatened. He also backed a referendum on joining Russia announced this week by the Russian-appointed leaders of the four occupied territories of Ukraine.

Concerns among Russian citizens were evident on Wednesday, when travel agency websites showed a sharp increase in demand for flights to places Russians don’t need to travel. visa. Nonstop flights to those countries were sold out until at least Friday, flight sales websites showed.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the European Commission acknowledged that Russian citizens had made numerous requests to enter EU countries. The EU is planning to forge a joint position on the matter, they said.

The Commission also noted that each member state currently needs to assess applications for entry on a case-by-case basis, adding that the EU’s external border management must comply with EU law and comply with “basic asylum procedure rights and all existing legislation.”

Riot police detain a demonstrator during an anti-war protest in Moscow, Russia, on September 21.
The protests in Russia appeared to have drawn dozens, another strong sign of desperation for some. In Russia, dissent is often quickly suppressed, and authorities further restricted freedom of speech after the invasion of Ukraine.

Videos from social media showed several protesters in Ulan-Ude, eastern Siberia, holding signs reading “Against war! Against mobilization!” and “Our husbands, fathers and brothers don’t want to kill other husbands and fathers!”

“We want our fathers, husbands and brothers to be alive…not to orphan their children. Stop the war and don’t take our people!” said one protester.

Video from Yekaterinburg in western Russia showed police officers scuffled with several protesters. CNN was unable to independently verify footage from the two cities.

Another video posted by a reporter for Moscow-based internet publication The Village showed dozens of people chanting “let him go” on Arbatskaya Street as a man was carried away.

The Moscow prosecutor’s office also warned citizens on Wednesday not to take part in protests or distribute messages demanding participation — a reminder that they could face up to 15 years in prison.

Asked on Thursday about subpoenas for people detained at anti-war rallies to be called for draft, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the practice “is not illegal. There is no illegal here.”

“Russia wants war”

Putin’s “partial mobilization” statement was condemned on Wednesday by Western leaders, many of whom were meeting at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

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

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in New York that EU foreign ministers agreed to move forward with a new round of sanctions against Russia.

Ukraine remained defiant in the face of Putin’s statement, with President Vladimir Zelensky telling the UN General Assembly in a pre-recorded speech on Wednesday that Russia “is afraid of real (peace) negotiations”, pointing to what he said was Russia’s “lie”.

Russia “talks about talks, but announces the mobilization of the army,” Zelensky said. “Russia wants war.”

On Thursday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Putin’s “partial mobilization” would only strengthen the country’s support for Ukraine. French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said France would continue to support Ukraine in weapons and training, but added that France needed cooperation within NATO to do so.

At the same time, researchers at the Institute of War Studies have analyzed that the move will not have a significant impact on the direct outcome of the war.

The analysis said it would take weeks or months for reservists to enter combat readiness, that Russian reservists were “undertrained from the start,” and that the “deliberation phase” of deployment outlined by the Russian defense minister could rule out “any sudden influx of Russian troops.” It would drastically change the tide of war.”

CNN’s Katya Krebs, Uliana Pavlova, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Anastasia Graham-Yooll, Sugam Pokharel, Clare Sebastian, Idris Muktar, Nadine Schmidt, Lauren Kent, and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

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