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In Moscow the war suddenly went from almost invisible to urgent and personal

Even partial mobilization has been vehemently avoided by the Kremlin, with President Putin making a solemn promise on March 8, International Women’s Day, that conscription “will not and will not participate in hostilities.” It was movement.

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However, a nationwide recruitment campaign by both the Russian Armed Forces and the Russian Armed Forces by the Kremlin-affiliated Wagner Group Private Military Companydespite offering contract bonuses worth several months’ salaries and actively recruiting thieves and murderers from Russian prisons, apparently failed to produce enough volunteers. The Kremlin’s attempt to fight the war with its army failed.

A crowd of about 200, mostly young people, gathered for a protest on Moscow’s Old Arbat Street.

Many wore masks to avoid detection by facial recognition cameras.

“No war!” they chanted in unison – before riot police moved in at lightning speed and bundled them up in a waiting bus. “I’m not afraid of anything anymore,” said Maria, a middle-aged protester, adding: “I will not let my children fight this bloody war!”

Another young woman clung to two male friends who had been dragged away by the police and shouted: “Putin is a traitor! He ruined Russia!”

Anti-war groups estimate that riot police have detained 1,300 protesters across Russia.credit:APs

About 1,300 people were detained during protests in more than 30 Russian cities, most of them released after paying fines of up to $1,200, according to the human rights group OVD-info. But many military-age male protesters weren’t so lucky. Published a photo.

So far, conscripts are not eligible for military service on the Ukrainian front lines, but military service is clearly being used as a punishment for dissent. “It was only natural [authorities] We started using mobilization from the first day to put pressure on the protesters,” said Pavel Chikov, president of the Agora Association of Human Rights Lawyers.

Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov promised on his telegram channel that all opponents of the regime would soon wear uniforms.

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The police said, “We will check the documents. [on] Identify them, detain them and send them to the military registration and enlistment office.”

Russian social media referred to Putin’s call as “mogilizatsita.” This is a combination of the Russian words “mogira” or “grave” and “mobilization”.

Unusually long queues to leave Russia were reported at the once-dormant border crossings overnight and yesterday morning. This includes border crossings with Mongolia and Kazakhstan to the east and Georgia to the south, where hundreds of cars were stuck in massive nighttime traffic jams.

In the Chelyabinsk region, which borders Kazakhstan, dozens of men were seen standing near their cars in the vast steppe just after dawn.

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At Moscow airports, border guards reportedly spot-checked young men and asked if they were eligible to be called up.

Putin’s sudden decision to reverse six months of so-called “secret mobilization” and to make public a nationwide, albeit partial so far , surprised politicians.

“I believe in many [in the Russian elite] A former senior Kremlin official who worked with Putin until 2016 said:

“Politically, this is a move you would never make unless you were desperate. It’s a change of message. Not everything goes according to plan.”

Indeed, in recent speeches in Vladivostok and Samarkand, Putin himself went out of his way to make it as dull and understated as possible, talking about a “challenge” to the Russian economy and not mentioning war at all.

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Although the protests against the mobilization were small, the sudden rise in awareness of the war is likely to have a dangerous political impact on Russian society.

A majority of Russians still claim to support Putin, but a private Kremlin poll leaked in July showed Russians favoring continuation of the conflict or making peace. About 15% of respondents strongly agreed with what the Kremlin called “special military operations”, a similar number strongly disagreed, and 35% to 35% mildly agreed. and was moderately opposed.

After Putin’s partial mobilization, one thing is clear – to keep the war low-key, using expendable volunteers, colonial forces from minority states like Buryatia and Chechnya, and prisoners to fight. The Kremlin’s plan failed.

The author of this dispatch remains anonymous due to reporting restrictions.

The Telegraph, London

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In Moscow the war suddenly went from almost invisible to urgent and personal

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