Partial mobilization: Russians protest against Putin's forced war

For his war, Putin is drafting in masses of reservists. The horror is great - many try to hide or flee abroad. Can the mood turn against the Kremlin boss?

Hundreds of the Kremlin chief's security apparatus Wladimir Putin beat up the largest anti-war protests in Russia in months in many cities. After spontaneous street actions against the partial mobilization ordered by Putin, more than 1000 people are still in custody. Despite this, the country's authorities are rigorously implementing the decree to draft at least 300,000 reservists for the war in Ukraine. Putin wants to solve personnel problems there.

For the first time, however, Putin's war of aggression against the neighboring country, which has been going on for seven months, is now also affecting Russians and their families, who are involuntarily drawn into the bloodshed. So far, Putin has relied on volunteers. Now the war, which will continue to be officially called "military special operations", is omnipresent.

Red note leads to war

Many received the red note with the request to report to the military district command on Wednesday, shortly after Putin's mobilization announced on television hit the country like a shock wave. The President stressed that a front line of 1,000 kilometers along the occupied territories must be secured. From his point of view, it is a fight for of Russia Survive. The 69-year-old claimed that the country was being threatened by the West, the United States and NATO. For many Russians, the war was far away.

Now the country's citizens are to be forced to take up arms in order to solve alleged personnel problems in the army. To be sure, many people in Russia have so far watched the war with indifference and confirmed their support for Putin. But the mood could change now. Surveys never showed that citizens were very willing to go into battle themselves against Ukrainian brothers and sisters.

This is one of the reasons why many Russians rushed to the airports to fly to Armenia and Turkey, for example. Thousands made it. But the flights are fully booked for days, other destinations further away are hardly affordable. A Flight approximately to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) for Thursday evening cost 3000 euros. Miles of queues formed at the borders to Finland, where visas are required, or to the South Caucasus Republic of Georgia.

Panic is spreading

Already after the start of Putin's invasion of the Ukraine in February, many Russians had fled and sought exile abroad. But now many are talking about panic. In Moscow, a 41-year-old man says on the street that he has no combat experience or real military training. But he's a reserve lieutenant. Because he is registered in a different Russian time zone of the huge empire, he would have to be handed the draft notice against signature there at his place of residence. The registration address is far away.

"There's no way I'm going to fight in Putin's senseless war, I'd rather go to prison," says the engineer. He's afraid he'll be arrested if he tries to leave the country and sent straight to Ukraine: "Hiding is one way out. But the worst thing is the uncertainty, you hardly dare to go out on the street," he says, also referring to the protests the previous evening in Moscow.

Hundreds of arrests were made in the Russian capital alone on Wednesday when the protests were violently suppressed. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov described it as legal that those arrested there were also handed the draft notice directly. The discussion about what is legal and what is not now fills entire internet portals. Many are looking for ways to avoid being called up. Lawyers give a lot of advice. But the bottom line is that there is always the announcement that there is no legal certainty in an authoritarian state with arbitrary justice.

Some people got out of bed

Numerous experts appease that Russia no longer has the resources and structures in the regions to collect people for the war in Ukraine. However, there were reports from many parts of the country that people were being drafted en masse - some being dragged out of bed.

The Russian state agency Ria Novosti also ran its comment function - with a lot of biting criticism of Putin. "We have a huge civil service, it seems to me that they should start mobilizing there," wrote user Olja K. "Where is our professional army?" asked a user with the probably not real name Misha Mishkin . "The Russian taxpayers have apparently been paying the army for all these years so that they themselves die somewhere there." He also asked how Putin even managed to force citizens to go to war on another state's territory, even though no war had been declared.

In Russia there is constant talk of a general social contract. Accordingly, no one seriously interferes in Putin's politics - and the quiet people get social security in return. According to experts, this deal is at stake because everyone in the country is now aware of the war and could lead to an unprecedented politicization of society.

No guarantee of stability anymore

The imprisoned Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny had criticized during a court appearance on Wednesday that Putin bleeds ordinary citizens and throws them into the "meat grinder", but spares the army, national guard and troops of the Interior Ministry. They are Putin's insurance to keep the protests and possible unrest under control. But there is no longer a guarantee of stability.

The Russian political scientist Abbas Galliamov expects that the protests could increase if the conscription becomes a tangible reality for everyone - and "those who are gone return in coffins when the burials are done". Hardly anyone was interested in the contract soldiers killed so far, who voluntarily fought for money. "But the death of reservists is something completely different. It's a terrible injustice."


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