Moscow, Sep 24 (EFE).- A second round of protests Saturday against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to order a partial mobilization to reinforce Moscow’s “special military operation” ended with more than 744 people in custody.
As of 8:36 pm (17:36 GMT), reports of demonstrators arrested had come in from 32 cities, human rights organization OVD-Info said.
The capital accounted for 371 of those arrests, while 128 people were detained in Russia’s second city, St. Petersburg, where, according to local media, police used Tasers and clubs against protesters.
Demonstrations on Wednesday, the day of Putin’s speech announcing the partial mobilization, resulted in nearly 1,400 arrests.
In Moscow, a call from the opposition movement Vesna (Spring) for protesters to gather around the monument to diplomat and poet Aleksandr Griboyedov (1795-1829) prompted a large police deployment outside the nearest Metro station.
At least a dozen police vans were parked along Garden Boulevard and the following recorded message was broadcast over loudspeakers at regular intervals: “An unauthorized action has been convened in this place. Keep moving.”
Efe saw pedestrians who stopped in the vicinity of the monument arrested immediately.
“Why are you taking me? I’m going to the Metro station,” a young man asked the officers escorting him to one of the waiting vans. “Keep walking. It will be worse if you don’t,” one of the cops replied.
The only poster in sight was one reading “Do you want to end up like this?” held by a young woman in a wheelchair. Police surrounded her and seized the poster, but ultimately allowed her to continue on her way.
Putin said he had signed the decree on the partial mobilization of the military “to protect our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He said it was needed “to ensure the security of our people and people of the liberated territories,” referring to the mainly ethnic-Russian Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a subsequent address that 300,000 reservists will be mobilized in support of the Special Military Operation, which began Feb. 24. EFE mos/dr