Russian police have dispersed peaceful protests against President Vladimir Putin’s military mobilisation order, arresting hundreds, including some children, across the country, as Ukrainian President warned Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Russians that their president was knowingly “sending citizens to their death”.
More than 1300 people were arrested at anti-mobilisation protests in cities and towns across Russia on Wednesday and Thursday, in the largest public protests since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson dismissed reports of booked-out flights and queues to leave Russia as “false”.
“The information about a certain feverish situation in airports is very much exaggerated,” Peskov insisted during his daily conference call with reporters on Thursday.
But there were other signs of increased public pushback against Putin and his war, despite the Kremlin’s harsh crackdown on dissent.
In the city of Togliatti, a local military recruitment officer was set on fire, one of dozens of similar attacks across Russia in recent months.
Protests erupted within hours on Wednesday after Putin announced a call-up of 300, 000 army reservists in a move to beef up his forces fighting in Ukraine after the Russian military suffered battlefield setbacks.
The Ukrainian president, in his late-night address, called on Moscow’s forces to surrender, saying they would “be treated in a civilised manner… no one will know the circumstances of your surrender”.
The comment came just hours after Russia passed a law-making voluntary surrender and desertion a crime punishable by 10 years of imprisonment.
Source: Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, The Guardian, image from Twitter