Detentions at ‘anti-mobilization’ protests in Russia

People rallied after President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization earlier on Wednesday

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Moscow and several other Russian cities on Wednesday to protest a partial mobilization, announced earlier on Wednesday by President Vladimir Putin amid Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine. 

So far, Moscow police and the city authorities have not officially released any crowd numbers for the rally and didn’t provide exact figures on how many people have been detained. According to an activist group, OVD-Info, dozens were held by law enforcement in the Russian capital as a crowd gathered not far from the General Staff headquarters in the city center. OVD-info is an activist group covering various protest actions in Russia. It was designated a ‘foreign agent’ by the Russian Justice Ministry in 2021.

Other rallies, though smaller in size, were held in other Russian cities. A crowd gathered near Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The demonstration there ended up in brief scuffles with police, and detentions. A video from the scene showed police officers in riot gear trying to push the crowd away.

At least 126 protesters have been detained in St. Petersburg, according to OVD-Info. 

Dozens of people have taken to the streets in the cities of Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Perm and Chelyabinsk, in the Urals region. There the protests resulted in between 14 and 45 detentions, according to the activists. The Siberian cities of Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Yakutsk saw some protests as well.

Earlier, an activist movement ‘Vesna’ (‘Spring’), which has been opposing the Russian military operation in Ukraine, had called on people to take to the streets of their home cities on Wednesday evening to protest the Kremlin’s decision on mobilization.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced the partial military mobilization. He said the Defense Ministry had recommended drawing military reservists into active service amid the prolonged conflict in Ukraine and Donbass.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu explained that additional troops were required to control the 1,000-kilometer-long contact line with Ukrainian forces and Russian-held areas. According to Shoigu, the mobilization would involve calling to arms some 300,000 reservists, or just over 1% of Russia’s full mobilization potential.