Russian law enforcement detained at least two dozen people Feb. 3 at a protest in Moscow, as wives and relatives of service members fighting in Ukraine advocated for their return. Reportedly, those arrested were primarily journalists covering the protest and human rights monitors rather than participants in the demonstration.
Relatives of the soldiers gathered to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, outside the Kremlin walls in the Alexander Garden. The demonstration marked 500 days since President Vladimir Putin in September 2022 ordered the “partial mobilization” of up to 300,000 military reservists for the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.
Wives and relatives of mobilized reservists have been campaigning for them to be discharged and replaced with contract soldiers. The campaign group that organized the demonstration was called the Way Home. The group posted Feb. 2 on Telegram, calling on “wives mothers, sisters and children” of reservists and “all concerned citizens” across the nation to come to Moscow to “demonstrate our unity.”
The protest was the latest in a series of similar demonstrations organized by the campaign group, which has publicly advocated for the end of the mobilization.
Opponents of the Kremlin, including the team of imprisoned politician Alexey Navalny, endorsed the protest. Navalny’s team wrote, “the movement for complete demobilization must be supported, this is a direct path to ending the war.”
Human rights group OVD-Info reported that at least 27 people were detained outside the Kremlin. The detainees were taken in a police van to the Kitay Gorod police station. Officers were seen leading a group of men wearing yellow “press” vests into a van. Telegram channel Sirena reported that all those filming the protests were detained.
It was later reported that another seven journalists covering the protest at Putin’s campaign headquarters were detained and taken to the Basmanny police precinct.
Journalists detained at the Kitay-Gorog precinct began to be released by security forces later that afternoon. Those released were primarily foreign journalists and correspondents. They were released without charge after giving explanations, with some being issued warnings about engaging in illegal actions.
The Moscow prosecutor’s office warned of liability for “calls for and participation in uncoordinated mass events.” The office stated that the event had not been approved by city authorities, and that promotion and participation in the event will “entail liability established by Russian legislation.”
From Jurist, Feb. 5. Used with permission.
Despite the crackdown on dissent in Russia and harsh new laws specifically aimed at anti-war opposition, anti-war protest continues to emerge. Announcement of the mobilization in September 2022 sparked an anti-draft uprising in some regions of the country.
Photo: astrapress via The Moscow Times