Russians Protest Troop Callup

Demonstrators defy new threat of imprisonment to object to mobilization
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2022 6:00 PM CDT
Hundreds Arrested at Russia War Protests
Police detain demonstrators Wednesday in Yekaterinburg, Russia.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Protesters turned out across Russia on Wednesday, in spite of the threat of imprisonment, in response to the announcement that thousands of troops will be called up to join the fighting in Ukraine. Hundreds, at least, were arrested; OVD-Info, a Russian human rights group, put the number at more than 1,300 in 38 cities, France24 reports. Arrests were made in almost major city in Russia, per the Hill. The protests were the largest since the ones held right after the invasion of Ukraine began in February. "I am for peace, and I don't want to have to shoot," said Vasily Fedorov, a student in St Petersburg. "But coming out now is very dangerous, otherwise there would be many more people."

The call had gone out for Russians to join the anti-mobilization protests, which was followed by a warning from the Moscow prosecutor's office that demonstrators could be sentenced to 15 years in jail, per the BBC. Possible charges were said to be discrediting the armed forces, spreading "fake news" about the battle in Ukraine, and encouraging minors to protest. The antiwar organization Vesna said it had received 6,000 calls to its hotline since Tuesday morning from Russians asking about soldiers' rights. Young men told the BBC they're worried about being called up. "I shouldn't be recruited during this step of mobilization," said one in St. Petersburg, "but there are no guarantees that things won't get worse."

One-way plane tickets out of Russia were going fast and becoming more expensive, some changing every few minutes, per the AP, as fears grew that the nation's borders would be closed. A one-way economy class fare from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai topped $9,000. "Why are they deciding my future for me?" asked Oksana Sidorenko, a student protesting in St. Petersburg, told AFP. "I'm scared for myself, for my brother." A 60-year-old man told a reporter: "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." (Read more Russia protests stories.)

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