Russian opposition to Putin’s mass mobilization grows – POLITICO

Opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of an additional 300,000 troops to fight in Ukraine continues to grow after two prominent Russian politicians voiced concerns and local police arrested hundreds of protesters across the country.

Valentina Matvienko, head of Russia’s upper house of parliament and a close ally of Putin, said on her social media channels on Sunday that she was aware of reports that some of the men, who were unqualified for conscription, had been called up to fight. Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of Russia’s State Duma and another prominent politician, has raised similar concerns about people who do not meet the conscription criteria who are required to fight in Ukraine.

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“Such abuses are absolutely unacceptable and I consider it absolutely right that they provoke a sharp reaction in society,” Matvienko wrote on Telegram, the social network.

While these two prominent Russian politicians did not object to Putin’s mass mobilization, their comments come as more than 700 people were arrested en masse in Moscow and Saint Petersburg on Saturday during large-scale protests against the military escalation. In total, nearly 2,000 people have been arrested in the past week for their opposition to the military mobilization.

On Saturday, local police moved quickly to disperse the protesters, some of whom joined an opposition political party run by the now imprisoned Alexei Navalny. In the two Russian cities, marchers chanted slogans such as “We are not cannon fodder” and “Putin is in the trenches” before being arrested, according to reports from independent local media.

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However, it remains unclear how successful these protests will be in response to Putin’s decree on Wednesday calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists. Under Russian law, nearly all men between the ages of 18 and 65 are eligible, but Moscow has stated that some professions, including banking and media, will be exempt from conscription.

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