Moscow, Sep 21 (EFE).- More than 1,000 people were arrested across Russia during protests Wednesday against the partial mobilization announced by President Vladimir Putin to reinforce Moscow’s “special military operation” in neighboring Ukraine.
“At 18:36 GMT there were already more than 1,113 people detained in 38 cities,” human rights organization OVD-Info said, adding that Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s second city, accounted for two-thirds of the arrests.
But demonstrations also took place in provincial hubs such as Yekaterinburg, Perm, Ufa, Krasnoyarsk, Chelyabinsk, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Arkhangelsk, Voronezh, Izhevsk, Tomsk, Volgograd, Smolensk and Belgorod, according to the group.
The public prosecutor’s office in the capital said that individuals convicted of organizing or participating in illegal actions will face up to 15 years in prison.
Efe witnessed police move immediately to break up a protest in central Moscow involving several hundred people who chanted “No to war” and “Putin to the trenches.”
Demonstrators linked arms to try to avoid arrests, while the police prevented the protesters from making their way down the Arbat to the foreign ministry.
In a televised speech early Wednesday, 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 in 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