Saturday, February 4, 2023

More than 1,300 arrested after Putin’s mobilisation drive sparks protests across Russia

Protesters have clashed with police in Moscow as anger erupted over Vladimir Putin’s declaration of a partial mobilisation in Russia.
Crowds took to the streets of the Russian capital after the Kremlin announced 300,000 reserves would be called up to continue its invasion of Ukraine. Demonstrators shouted “No to war” in a show of defiance as some were pinned to the ground or dragged away after being detained by armed police.
At least 300 people in Moscow were among more than 1,371 detained across 38 cities nationwide on Wednesday night.
According to the independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info, at least 1,386 people have been arrested in 38 cities across the country. Moscow and St. Petersburg are the metropolises where the most arrests have been reported, 509 and 541 respectively.
Russians have faced the prospect of being detained for attending an anti-government rally for years – but they have also been silenced by military censorship since the invasion began on 24 February.
Thousands joined anti-war protests at the start of the conflict – in spite of potential consequences, including losing their jobs and even being jailed – but now many are too fearful to speak out.
Footage of the scuffles showed multiple uniformed officers surrounding individual protesters.
One woman was seen being escorted away as she tried to stop police detaining another male demonstrator.
Putin addressed the nation this morning for the first time since sending troops into battle in February, in what Russia has described as a “special military operation”.
But he vowed Russia would use every tool in its arsenal to protect its territory as he issued a nuclear threat to Western leaders, warning them: “I am not bluffing”.
The Kremlin had earlier said it was not considering a partial or full mobilisation.
This morning’s announcement came two weeks after Ukraine’s rapid offensive saw it reclaim control of towns in the Kharkiv region – as Moscow was forced to withdraw from two front line positions.
Many scrambled to leave Russia with flights scheduled to depart Moscow sold out, as the price of any remaining soars to thousands of pounds.

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