Russian law enforcement detain dozens at anti-mobilisation protest in Moscow News
© WikiMedia (Silar)
Russian law enforcement detain dozens at anti-mobilisation protest in Moscow

Russian law enforcement detained at least two dozen people Saturday at a protest in Moscow, as wives and relatives of Russian service members fighting in Ukraine advocated for their return. Reportedly, those arrested were primarily journalists covering the protest and human rights activists rather than participants in the protest.

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 mobilisation” of up to 300,000 military reservists in the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.

The call-up prompted more than 260,000 men to flee the nation, with Moscow reportedly setting up drafting offices at borders to intercept fleeing reservists.

Wives and relatives of the reservists mobilised in 2022 have been campaigning for them to be discharged and replaced with contract soldiers. The campaign group that organised the demonstration was the Way Home. The group posted Friday on Telegram, inviting “wives mothers, sisters and children” of reservists  and “all concerned citizens” across the nation to come to Moscow to “demonstrate our unity.”

The protest is the latest in a series of similar demonstrations organised by the campaign group, which has publicly advocated for the end of mobilisation and the signing of a decree cancelling mobilisation.

Opposition to 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 advocacy group OVD-Info reported that at least 27 people were detained outside the Kremlin. The group, mostly journalists, were taken in a police van to the Kitay Gorod police department. 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 department 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 the inadmissibility of illegal actions.

Moscow prosecutor’s office warned of liability for the “calls for and participation in uncoordinated mass events.” The office stated that Saturday’s event had not been approved by city executive authorities, and the organisation and participation in the event will “entail liability established by Russian legislation.”