Russian police on Saturday arrested more than 700 people during protests against the mobilization of reservists to fight in Ukraine, according to a decree issued by President Vladimir Putin this week, a non-governmental organization said.
According to the human rights organization OVD-Info, “at least 710 people were arrested in 32 cities” across Russia, about half in Moscow.
In the Russian capital, according to AFP correspondents, a large police force has been deployed in the central district of Chisti Prodi.
Most of the protesters present were either walking or simply standing alone or in small groups to avoid detection and arrest. Despite this, the AFP witnessed the arrest of about twenty people.
“We are not cannon fodder,” said a young woman as she was taken away by the anti-people police, repeating one of the slogans launched by those who rejected the military mobilization to fight in Ukraine.
In St. Petersburg (north-west), the second largest city in the country, the AFP witnessed the transport of about thirty people on a police bus.
Here, too, the objectors tried to move with caution.
Ilya Frolov, 22, was holding a small banner with the word “Freedom” written on it. “I want to express my rejection of what is happening (…) I don’t want to fight for Putin,” he said.
“I am against war and mobilization. I am afraid for young people,” said Natalia Dubova (70).
When President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization decision on Wednesday, around 1,400 protesters were arrested across Russia.
Some reported that the authorities gave them orders to mobilize at the police station.
The Kremlin defended the measure, saying it was not “illegal”.
Demonstrations against the attack on Ukraine are severely repressed in Russia. And to stop thousands of people from the start of the conflict in February.
On the other hand, hundreds of people gathered in Moscow and St. Petersburg on Friday in support of the attack and to annex the areas controlled by Russia.
And on Saturday, Putin signed amendments that provide for a prison sentence of up to ten years for military personnel who desert or refuse to fight during the mobilization period, which is currently in effect.
These amendments to the Criminal Code, approved by Parliament this week, were published in the Government Official Gazette and entered into force.
Soldiers who flee or surrender to the enemy “without permission”, refuse to fight or disobey orders in the mobilization phase are sentenced to prison terms of up to ten years.
Anyone who carries out acts of looting is punished with imprisonment for up to 15 years.