April 2, 2023

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

More than 1,300 people have been arrested at demonstrations across Russia protesting President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that some civilians have been mobilized to fight in Ukraine, a police watchdog group said on Wednesday.

After Putin addressed the nation this morning, the OVD-Info monitoring team counted at least 1,332 people detained at rallies in 38 different cities across the country.

The protests are Russia’s largest since demonstrations erupted in February following Moscow’s announcement of military intervention in Ukraine.

An AFP reporter in central Moscow, the Russian capital, said at least 50 people were detained by police in riot gear on a main shopping street.

In St. Petersburg, Russia’s former imperial capital, AFP reporters saw police surround a small group of protesters, detain them one by one and load them onto a bus.

Protesters chanted “Don’t mobilize!”

“Everyone is scared. I’m for peace, I don’t want to shoot. But it’s very dangerous to come out now, otherwise there will be more people,” said protester Vasily Fedorov, a student whose Wearing a pacifist emblem. Chest.

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

“Why are you serving Putin who has been in power for 20 years!” a young protester yelled at a police officer.

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

“Why should they decide my future for me? I’m scared for myself and my brother,” she added.

Alina Skvortsova, 20, said she hoped Russians would soon understand the nature of the Kremlin’s offensive in neighboring Ukraine.

“Once they really got it, they took to the streets without fear,” she said.

Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s interior ministry as saying it had called off attempts to “organize unauthorized rallies”.

It added that all demonstrations were halted and those who committed “violations” were arrested and taken away by police pending investigation and prosecution.

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

Flights from Russia were almost fully booked this week, data from airlines and travel agencies showed on Wednesday, amid an exodus of people apparently unwilling to join the conflict.

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