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Arrests during protest against war in Ukraine

Relatives of soldiers fighting in the war against Ukraine have once again demonstrated in Moscow for an end to the war. According to reports, at least 27 people were temporarily arrested – they are said to be journalists.

According to media reports, several people were arrested at a demonstration by wives and partners of Russian soldiers in Moscow. 27 people who were taken away from Manege Square in front of the Kremlin were transferred to the nearest police station, reported the independent Internet portal Sota.

Those arrested are mainly men. As a video reporter from the AFP news agency reported, they are journalists. Those arrested were later released.

Flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The protest was called for by the “Putj domoi” (“Way Home”) movement, which was founded by the wives of mobilized Russians. On the 500th day of mobilization for the war against Ukraine ordered by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, relatives laid flowers at the Kremlin wall at the grave of the unknown soldier.

With the peaceful protest they want to force the return of their men from the front and the abandonment of further mobilization.

“Women who need their men”

A live stream published by the protest participants showed the women marching together through the center of Moscow. “We are here as the women who need their men,” said one of the women. The women would “get creative” if the authorities tried to crush their protests. Another participant said that with their protest the women wanted to show the part of Russians untouched by the Ukraine conflict in their everyday lives “that there is another part of society that is constantly suffering.”

While criminals recruited for the war are now free and back in Russia, those mobilized are not being allowed to return, they complained. At the event, the activists spoke out for peace as quickly as possible.

Anger at Putin is growing

There have been demonstrations in Russia for several weeks by relatives of soldiers fighting in Ukraine. The anger of the relatives of reservists mobilized by President Putin in September 2022 has been growing for months.

After the war began, Putin promised his own compatriots that only volunteers would be sent to fight in the neighboring country. In the fall of 2022, after a series of defeats, he called for a partial mobilization of 300,000 men, contrary to his promise.

The police have not yet taken any action against women

While the authorities have increasingly taken action against dissidents since the Russian offensive in Ukraine began in February 2022, the police have not yet intervened in the women's protests. The initiative is extremely sensitive for the authorities – they apparently want to avoid further unrest by arresting women.

Russian state media have so far largely ignored women's protests as the Kremlin seeks to project an image of national unity ahead of March's presidential election in which Putin will seek another term.

Björn Blaschke, ARD Moscow, tagesschau, February 3, 2024 2:30 p.m

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