Over 1,300 arrested at Russia’s anti-war rallies

Insight Online News

Moscow, Sep 22 : Security forces have detained more than 1,300 people in Russia at protests denouncing “partial military mobilisation”, a rights group said, hours after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s first military draft since the second world war.

The independent OVD-Info protest monitoring group said on Wednesday that according to information it had collated from 38 Russian cities, more than 1,311 people had been held by late Wednesday.

It said those figures included at least 502 in Moscow and 524 in St Petersburg, Russia’s second most populous city. Unsanctioned rallies are illegal under Russia’s anti-protest laws, the Guardian report said.

Russian interior ministry official Irina Volk, in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies, said officers had cut short attempts to stage what it called small protests.

“In a number of regions, there were attempts to stage unauthorised actions which brought together an extremely small number of participants,” Volk was quoted as saying.

“These were all stopped. And those persons who violated laws were detained and taken to police stations for investigation and establish their responsibility.”

One-way flights out of Russia were rocketing in price and selling out fast on Wednesday after Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists, international news agencies reported.

The Guardian quoted Vesna opposition movement that called for protests, saying: “Thousands of Russian men, our fathers, brothers and husbands, will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?”

The Moscow prosecutor’s office warned that organising or participating in protests could lead to up to 15 years in prison. Authorities have issued similar warnings ahead of other protests. Wednesday’s were the first nationwide anti-war protests since the fighting began in late February.

In Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, police hauled on to buses some of the 40 protesters who were detained at an anti-war rally.

The Interfax news agency quoted the Russian interior ministry as saying it had quashed attempts to “organise unauthorised gatherings”.

All the demonstrations were stopped and those who committed “violations” were arrested and led away by police pending an investigation and prosecution, it added.

UNIINDIA

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