Terrified Russians have taken to the streets in protest against being sent to the front lines in Ukraine after Putin ordered the mobilization of reservists in a dramatic escalation of the war. More than 100 demonstrators holding ‘no to mobilization’ signs and chanting anti-war slogans have been dragged away by armed police trying to stamp out the unrest across the country, while others desperately try to flee the country by snapping up one-way tickets from Moscow.
The disobedience and the exodus are driven by fears that Russia’s borders could soon close or that a broader call-up might send many men of fighting age to the war after Putin ordered the call-up of 300,000 military reserves today, a first in Russia since the Second World War.
Protests began in Siberia, with demonstrators risking jail under draconian laws forbidding criticism of the armed forces, and more unrest is expected to spread to Moscow and St Petersburg. One protester was detained in Novosibirsk after shouting at police and FSB officers at a rally: ‘I am not going to die for Pu- tin, or for you!’ He told the armed law enforcement: ‘You know too well everything is.” Anger has also erupted on social media, and a new word was even invented to describe the hell Putin has unleashed ‘Mogilisation,’ from the Russian word ‘ММММММ’ [Mogila] or grave, the morbid fate awaiting thousands drafted into the army.