Russian President Vladimir Putin has enlisted a new draft of 300,000 soldiers in order to bolster its troops in the Russian-Ukrainian War. Despite many initial theories that Russia invading Ukraine would be a quick operation ending in Russian victory, The Ukrainian army has shown that they are a threat to Russian forces. Many Russian citizens oppose the draft, and they have shown their displeasure in the streets by protesting. The Guardian reports that at least 1,300 Russian citizens have been arrested and detained.
Putin’s mobilization attempts are against many of his own citizens who initially disagreed with the war. According to Reuters, a large-scale mobilization such as this has not occurred in Russia since World War II, when the Soviet Union was still in existence. Forbes reports that Russian citizens across the 38 different cities where arrests were made were aware of the heavy presence of police officers and the risks that protesting imposed, but many young Russians were willing to take the risk. A majority of the arrests came from the two largest Russian cities Moscow and St. Petersburg. This display of protesting has been the largest protest since the news of the Russian-Ukraine War broke out. Some of the punishments that BBC News states come with protesting or dodging the draft include ten years of federal prison, forced, and extremely hefty fines. Avoiding the draft in Russia is charged as a criminal offense.
Under Russian law, the police force has the right to arrest individuals that they believe are evading the draft. This is leading to the arrest of innocent people who are being detained for simply walking the streets without just cause. Many Russians have openly spoken out against the Russian government. One outspoken Russian citizen, retired University Professor Natalya Zurina, told NPR that “I haven’t heard the word ‘war’ out of Putin’s mouth. And if there’s no war then how can we have a mobilization? He’s calling up our young boys to die for nothing. I just couldn’t stay home,” Professor Zurina’s sentiments echo those of many Ukrainian citizens, as well as much of the international community, who have isolated Russia. The Washington Post reports that the frustrations of many Russian civilians with the Russian government have led them to purchase a one-way ticket out of the country.
The mass protests across Russia show that there is a shift in respect of authority throughout the country, with the younger generation in Russia prioritizing speaking out for their beliefs and calling out what needs to be changed without fear over fearing punishment.