Pictures and videos show police cracking down on demonstrators in multiple cities, with lens During a demonstration in central Moscow, several protesters were carried away by police and authorities in St. Petersburg in an attempt to control a crowd chanting “No mobilization” outside the Isaakivsky Cathedral.
Police detained protesters in 38 Russian cities on Wednesday, according to data released shortly after midnight by the independent monitoring group OVD-Info. The group’s spokeswoman, Maria Kuznetsova, said in a call with CNN that there are at least four police stations in Moscow and that some protesters arrested by riot police have been directed Conscripted into the army.
One of the detainees was charged for refusing to be called up, she said. The government says the penalty for refusing to recruit is now 15 years in prison. Of the more than 1,300 people detained across the country, more than 500 were in Moscow and more than 520 in St. Petersburg, according to OVD-Info.
The statute itself does not only apply to reservists.It allows “calling [of] Citizens of the Russian Federation perform military service through mobilization into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. “
Putin raised the specter of nuclear weapons in his speech, saying he would use “every means at our disposal” if he believed Russia’s “territorial integrity” was threatened. He also backed a referendum on joining Russia announced this week by the Russian-appointed leaders of the four occupied territories of Ukraine.
Videos from social media showed several protesters in Ulan-Ude, eastern Siberia, holding signs reading “Against war! Against mobilization!” and “Our husbands, fathers and brothers don’t want to kill other husbands and fathers!”
“We want our fathers, husbands and brothers to be alive…not to orphan their children. Stop the war and don’t take our people!” said one protester.
Video from Yekaterinburg in western Russia showed police officers scuffled with several protesters. CNN was unable to independently verify footage from the two cities.
Another video posted by a reporter for Moscow-based internet publication The Village showed dozens of people chanting “let him go” on Arbatskaya Street as a man was carried away.
The Moscow prosecutor’s office also warned citizens on Wednesday not to take part in protests or distribute messages demanding participation — a reminder that they could face up to 15 years in prison.
In a rare joint statement, British Prime Minister Liz Truss and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that both sides agreed that Putin’s announcement that the partial mobilization of Russian citizens was a sign of “weakness”.
Ukraine remained defiant in the face of the announcement, with President Vladimir Zelensky telling the UN General Assembly in a pre-recorded speech on Wednesday that Russia is “fearful of real (peace) negotiations,” pointing to what he said was Russia’s “lie”.
Russia “talks about talks, but announces the mobilization of the army,” Zelensky said. “Russia wants war.”
Katya Krebs, Uliana Pavlova, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Anastasia Graham-Yooll, Sugam Pokharel, Clare Sebastian, Idris Muktar and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.