Hundreds of people were arrested at anti-mobilization demonstrations in cities including Moscow and St Petersburg on Wednesday, according to an independent protest monitoring group.
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Protesters in Moscow chanted “No to war!” and “Live for our children!” The Associated Press news agency reported. In St Petersburg, protesters chanted “No mobilization!”, AFP news agency reported.
“Everyone is scared. I’m for peace and I don’t want to have to shoot. But going out now is very dangerous. Otherwise, there will be more people,” said one demonstrator, Vasily Fedorov, a student who wore a pacifist symbol on his chest.
“I have come to say that I am against war and mobilization,” Oksana Sidorenko, a student, told AFP. “Why did they decide my future for me? I fear for myself, for my brother,” he added.
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Despite Russia’s tough laws prohibiting criticism of the military and war, protests persist across the country. More than 1,300 Russians were arrested in anti-war demonstrations in 38 cities, according to the independent Russian human rights group OVD-Info.
Earlier, the anti-war movement Vesna’s Democratic Youth Movement called for demonstrations. “We call on the Russian military in units and on the front lines to refuse to participate in ‘special operations’ or to surrender as soon as possible,” Vesna said in an appeal on her website, referring to the Russo-Ukrainian war.
“You don’t have to die for Putin,” the statement continued. “You are needed in Russia by those who love you. To the authorities, you are just cannon fodder, where you will be wasted without any meaning or purpose,” he continued.