Putin talks to mothers of soldiers fighting in Ukraine in staged meeting | Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin met a hand-picked cadre of mothers of soldiers fighting in Ukraine in a carefully orchestrated meeting aimed at quelling public anger at the mobilization.

While dozens of ordinary mothers declared their objections to the Kremlin, Putin sat down with a former government official, the mother of a senior army and police official from Chechnya, and other women active in state-funded pro-war NGOs. .

The Guardian has been able to confirm the identities of at least three of the women who met Putin on Friday at a highly publicized meeting at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo on the outskirts of Moscow.

None of the women have criticized the war against Ukraine, and many have publicly sought to assuage concerns about abuse, inadequate training, and other dangers faced by Russian troops being mobilized to be sent to the front.

However, the fact of the meeting showed that the Kremlin is concerned about the perception of his move at home.

“It is clear that life is much more complex and diverse than what is shown on TV or even on the Internet – you can’t trust anything there at all, there are too many kinds of falsifications, deceptions and lies,” Putin told the women, who were seated around a large oval table.

“That is why we met with you, and that is why I suggested this meeting, because I wanted to hear from you directly.”

One of the women sitting next to Putin was Olesya Chygina, an ultra-conservative Russian poet, filmmaker and activist who recently traveled to the Donbass region to direct a pro-war film featuring Russian troops.

In a radio interview last month on Russia’s Vesti FM radio station, Chygina dismissed reports of mounting anger among Russian recruits over poor equipment and a lack of basic training.

Up front, no one is angry with the government… They have one goal there, and that is to win.

Someone who knew Shijina described her as “radically pro-government”. “Ideologically, she has the same views as Dugin,” they said, referring to the great Russian nationalist Alexander Dugin, whose daughter Daria Dugin was killed outside Moscow in August in a car bomb.

One of Chegina’s sons had volunteered to fight in Ukraine, said the person, who asked not to be identified so they could speak freely.

It was not immediately clear if Chegyna had any direct ties to the Russian government. According to local media, last month she participated in a “humanitarian” project funded by the Russian government, which was held in the Donbass region.

Another woman is Zardat Aguyeva, from Chechnya, the North Caucasus region ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov. Official local media reported on Friday that she has two sons fighting in Ukraine: one is a senior military commander in the Zabad-Akhmat battalion, and the other is the commander of a regional police department in Chechnya.

It seems that the family is close to the leadership of Chechnya. Kadyrov wished the brothers good health in a Telegram post in October. They also appear to be fighting in Ukraine alongside his three teenage sons. Kadyrov said that Rustam Agoyev, the police chief, told him that his sons had fought “bravely, cold-bloodedly and decisively.”

And in a video posted in late October, Agoyev threatened Chechens trying to avoid fighting in the war.

“Those of you with painted beards and tight pants, chomping on sunflower seeds and talking loudly,” he said then, according to a report by RFE/RL. “I swear by God that I am ashamed to go out while my brothers are fighting and dying. It is a disgrace. You are defaming our history. If we go home, we will not let you out on any of our streets.”

A third woman in the video, Nadezhda Uzunova, is an activist in a patriotic, ultra-nationalist NGO for war veterans called the Fighting Brotherhood, which is led by ex-general and ex-governor of the Moscow region Boris Gromov, but the Kremlin has not.

Uzunova recently posted a video on her social media showing her traveling to Donbass and celebrating in Red Square after Russia announced its annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

Uzunova has closer links with local government: she previously worked as a local policy advisor for the Russian region of Khakassia, and also served as a member of the election campaign staff for former governor Viktor Zimin.

Veteran soldiers’ rights campaigners had previously told the Guardian that they expected the Kremlin to selectively select – or even falsify – a list of soldiers’ mothers for the event in order to prevent the scandal from spreading.

In this case, it appears that she has simply chosen well-meaning pro-Kremlin women who will not challenge the Russian president about war.

Valentina Melnikova, a veteran activist who founded the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers in Russia in 1989, said she was not invited to the meeting. She said her organization would not feel comfortable representing her alongside “relatives of those mobilized [soldiers] Those who agreed to the death of their husbands and children at the front.”

“They will take people away from these party activists,” she said. Or they can just take someone from the FSB…if Putin really wants to meet the women they have [complained] In these online postings, he can contact them and do so. But this will not happen.

Olga Tsukanova, co-chair of the Council of Mothers and Wives, whose son is in the army, had asked Putin to meet “real” women.

Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin]Are you a man or what? she said in a video post. “Do you have the courage to look us in the eye, not with the handpicked women and mothers in your pocket, but with [women], Who traveled from different cities here to meet you? “

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