Attacks, protests and flight: how the mobilization decreed by Putin generates revolt in Russia

The apparatus of repression and Russian propaganda managed to calm the internal moods in the country during almost all seven months of war in Ukraine. But since Vladimir Putin announced last week the mobilization of 300 thousand reservists for the escalation of the conflict, demonstrations take over the country – some of them, radical. This week, one man shot an officer recruiting new soldiers, another set himself on fire and more than 98 a thousand Russians have already fled the country.

The gigantic lines of cars for almost a week, forming traffic jams on the borders of Georgia, Finland or Kazakhstan, denounce the popular disapproval of the Russian president’s decisions. The movement was so great that Russia announced that it will close the borders to men of military age.

The government of Kazakhstan announced this Tuesday (27) what 57 a thousand Russians have made the crossing in the last few days. The lines of cars are so long at the border that some people have abandoned their vehicles and walked. It is also estimated that about 36 men arrived in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. Despite the country having declared that it will receive the fugitives, the movement has caused discomfort to the local population, which has a history of separatist struggle with Moscow.

“The concern with this flow is great. , the massive influx of Kremlin operatives. Most here have no sympathy for those people who have not spoken out against the war in Ukraine, and whose thoughts on the misfortunes the Kremlin has been inflicting on Georgia since 1991 are unknown”, explained political scientist Kornely Kakachia to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

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Homens russos caminham por uma estrada depois de passarem pela alfândega no posto de fronteira Geórgia-Rússia de Verkhnii Lars, Geórgia, 27 de setembro de 2022./Foto: EFE
Russian men walk along a road after clearing customs at the Georgia-Russia border post in Verkhnii Lars, Georgia, September ./Photo: EFE| EFE/EPA/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE
Fire and fire against conscription

Western sources doubt of the Russian army’s ability to provide the new troops with the necessary training and equipment, while tens of thousands of draft sheets have already been sent to the Kremlin.

27165449“The haste with which Russia began its mobilization suggests that many of the recruits will be sent to the front lines with minimal preparation. They will undoubtedly suffer heavy losses,” the British Defense Ministry said.

In response to this pressure on reservists, more than Military recruitment centers were set on fire, according to Russian opposition media.

In Ust Ilinsk, Siberia, a young reservist shot the head of the recruitment centre, seriously wounding him before being stuck. In Ryazan, in the west of the country, a young man set himself on fire. “These are isolated events, but sooner or later the discontent will turn into a mass movement,” predicted opposition deputy Dmitry Gudkov.

In several regions of the Russian Federation, especially in those that are anti-Moscow, summoned men and family members have demonstrated against this mobilization. Nearly 2,500 people were arrested during the protests.

This amounts to an “arbitrary deprivation of liberty”, as UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday. “We call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained and for the authorities to fulfill their international obligations to respect and guarantee the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” declared Shamdasani.

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“The Russians do not know why they are fighting”

Since the Russian invasion was announced , which the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”, without admitting that it is at war, there are speculations about the weight of internal propaganda in Russia and the lack of information given to the population, and especially to the soldiers, about the situation of the conflict.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the Russians do not know why they are fighting. Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine already declared it, but now there is no longer any doubt,” said João Alfredo Nyegray, professor of Business International Studies and Geopolitics at Universidade Positivo.

In addition, as the professor pointed out, the strong state control of the media prevents it from being calculated. the level of opposition to Putin in the country.

“By adding the suspicious deaths of oligarchs, billionaires and millionaires, whose companies are important to Russia, with the recent protests, we can get a glimpse that Putin is no longer unanimous. The country’s economy is falling, prices are rising, there is a flight of companies and, now, people”, he observed.

Despite the popular revolt, there is no prospect of Putin easing the repression of the opposition. Over the weekend, the Russian president announced a ten-year prison term for those who refuse to go to war.

“Putin, in practice, has been in power since the end of the USSR – he was Boris Yeltsin’s deputy – and seems increasingly paranoid and attached to the Kremlin. This whole situation, and in particular the violent repression of peaceful protests and the prison sentences for critics of the conflict, reveals that Vladimir Putin is an ultra-armed modern dictator”, concluded the professor.

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