Despite brutal police violence, people are again demonstrating in Russia against the partial mobilization ordered by Putin for the war in Ukraine. But there is also criticism from official bodies.
With new protests in Russia against those ordered by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin partial mobilization more than 700 people have been arrested for his war against Ukraine. The human rights portal ovd.info reported in Moscow in the evening of 747 arrests in a total of 32 cities across the country.
It was only about the men and women who were known by name, and significantly more people could be in custody, it said. For the Russian capital alone Moscow at least 380 arrests were reported – and for St. Petersburg 125.
The Russian police took brutal action against participants in the anti-war protests banned by the authorities. From St. Petersburg, videos were published on social networks showing how men bludgeoned demonstrators in combat uniform and helmets. The portal ovd.info, citing eyewitnesses, reported that the security forces used stun guns.
Kremlin chief Wladimir Putin wants to draft in around 300,000 reservists in order to hold the areas still occupied there after the defeats of the Russian army in the Ukraine. That had already triggered protests in about 40 cities last Wednesday.
Dozens of people demonstrated in the Russian capital on Saturday in cold and rainy weather, as a reporter from the German Press Agency reported on site. People in numerous cities protested peacefully against the fact that citizens were involved in Putin’s war in the Ukraine be pulled in.
Increasing official criticism of partial mobilization
Meanwhile, official bodies are increasingly criticizing the military’s approach to partial mobilization. The head of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeyev, called on Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to end the “bludgeoning system” at many draft offices in the country. Even men who had no combat experience would get draft orders.
In the Yakutia region in Siberia, the head of the republic, Aissen Nikolayev, admits that mistakes have been made in the military district offices. Men were drafted who did not fall under the mobilization. “Reservists were drafted incorrectly, they have to be sent back. The work has already begun,” said Nikolayev.
In the social networks in Russia there are numerous cases in which fathers of large families, men without combat experience or older and chronically ill reserve officers report that they have been drafted. Nikolayev said that the decisions of the military commissariats need to be better checked.
Kadyrov: They don’t need reservists
Meanwhile, thousands continued to flee the country to avoid conscription. The head of the Russian republic of Chechnya in the North Caucasus, Ramzan Kadyrov, called those leaving the country “lazybones”, “useless” and “cowards” who should leave because they could only harm the army. At the same time he said that Russia actually has enough resources without reservists. There are five million well-prepared people in Russia who can handle weapons.
The astonishment and criticism in Russian society has been great for days because Putin is mobilizing reservists, but not the members of the various security structures. There are around a million soldiers alone, plus the National Guard and Interior Ministry troops, as well as some prison security forces. “If 50 percent of the staff is left on duty, then the other half in a number of 2.5 million people will defeat any western army. And the reserve is not necessary,” he said.
Putin fires deputy minister
Kremlin chief Putin, however, put an amended law into force on tougher penalties for deserters. Anyone who deserts during a mobilization or a state of war, for example, can be punished with up to 15 years in prison. Anyone who voluntarily becomes a prisoner of war – the Ukrainian government had called for it – can face up to ten years in prison.
At the same time, exactly seven months after the start of the war against Ukraine, the President dismissed Deputy Defense Minister Dmitry Bulgakov, who was responsible for equipping and supplying the army. Officially, the Ministry of Defense justified the step in a statement on Saturday with the transfer of Bulgakov “to another post”. His successor is to be Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, who previously headed the national center for defense management. In the future he will be responsible in particular for the logistics of the army.
Mizintsev is also known abroad: he was held responsible for the heavy attacks on the southern Ukrainian port of Mariupol, which was captured by the Russians at the end of May. According to Ukrainian sources, thousands of civilians were killed and much of the city was destroyed during the week-long siege. Misintsev, also known as the “Butcher of Mariupol,” is therefore on a sanctions list in Great Britain.
After recent defeats, Russia’s military leadership around Defense Minister Shoigu has recently come under criticism, even in circles close to the Kremlin. Under pressure from Ukrainian counter-offensives, the Russian army had to withdraw from the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv about two weeks ago. Then last Wednesday, Putin ordered a partial mobilization of his armed forces.