Russia arrests more than 1,300 people in anti-war protests

Russia arrests more than 1,300 people in anti-war protests
Russian law enforcement officers detain men during an unsanctioned rally, after opposition activists called for street protests against the mobilisation of reservists ordered by President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, Russia September 21, 2022. REUTERS/REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER

Russia is in a pretty bad slump right now. The country has been dealing with significant hits to its economy from sanctions by the West; a couple of weeks ago, it lost a lot of territory due to a highly successful military campaign by Ukraine in the north; and the war is being criticized by everyone from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to US President Joe Biden.

And now, on top of that, the country is dealing with unrest at home. On Wednesday, more than 1,300 people were arrested for protesting in Russia (a number still going up), mainly in the capital city of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The protesters have been recorded chanting “No to war,” and similar protests are breaking out elsewhere, including in front of the Russian embassy in Warsaw, Poland.

The protests are in response to a speech by President Vladimir Putin in which he said it would be going into a “partial mobilization.” Basically, that starts to put the country into wartime mode, where people with military experience are required to rejoin, and the economy gets some added restrictions. Putin also made a veiled threat of using nuclear weapons if things got too bad, but he stopped short of implementing a national draft.

Key comments:

“Military service will apply only to citizens who are currently in the reserve, especially those who have served in the armed forces, have certain military professions and relevant experience,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin in a televised address on Wednesday.

“Ukraine wants peace. Europe wants peace. The world wants peace. And we have seen who is the only one who wants war,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a virtual address to the UN on Wednesday. “There is only one entity among all UN member states who would say now if he could interrupt my speech that he is happy with this war, with his war.”