At least 1,026 people were arrested in Russia Wednesday during nationwide protests against the partial mobilization of civilians to fight in Ukraine announced by President Vladimir Putin, an NGO reported.
OVD-Info said demonstrations broke out in at least 38 Russian cities, in the largest protests since those following Moscow’s decision to send troops to Ukraine in February.
In Russia’s former imperial capital, Saint Petersburg, AFP reporters saw police surround a small group of protesters and detain demonstrators one-by-one.
Protesters were chanting “no mobilization!”
“I came out to the rally planning to participate, but it looks like they’ve already arrested everyone. This 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, a man who’s been in power for 20 years!” a young protester shouted at one policeman.
“I came to say that I am against war and mobilization,” Oksana Sidorenko, a student, told AFP.
“Why are they deciding my future for me? I’m scared for myself, for my brother,” she added.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday that Russia would initially mobilize some 300,000 reservists, after Putin in a televised address warned Russia would use all available military means in Ukraine.
Flights out of Russia were nearly fully booked this week, airline and travel agent data showed Wednesday, in an apparent exodus of people unwilling to join the conflict.
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