Russian police officers have arrested more than 1,300 anti-war protesters across the country after President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” for the war in Ukraine.
This is Russia’s first military draft since the Second World War and will press an estimated 300,000 people into military service, according to the New York Times.
In a nationwide address on Wednesday Sep. 21, Putin called for a “partial mobilization” of people with military experience to join Russia’s war in Ukraine.
He also accused the US and Europe of “nuclear blackmail”, saying that Russia had “lots of weapons” of its own.
“To those who allow themselves such statements about Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and some components are more modern than those of the NATO countries,” he said, according to the New York Times.
A few hours after the announcement on Wednesday, protests erupted in major cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow.
“Thousands of Russian men, our fathers, brothers and husbands, will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?” the Vesna opposition movement, which called for protests, said.
Police responded with unnecessary force, beating peaceful protesters with batons and putting them in chokeholds, according to Amnesty International.
At least 1,386 protestors were arrested across the country, according to Amnesty International.
Human rights watchdog OVD-Info reported police transported detainees in overcrowded vans and refused to give them water or to let them use the bathroom.
Non-authorized protests are illegal in Russia.
Since its invasion of Ukraine, the country has also passed laws criminalizing anti-war protests and war reporting, with people facing up to 15 years in prison.
Human rights organizations have called out Russia for clamping down on the rights of Russians to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstrations.
“Everyone has the right to freely express their opinions and protest peacefully, including in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Amnesty International said.