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The Russian authorities on Saturday arrested more than 700 people during demonstrations against the mobilization of reservists to fight in Ukraine, decreed this week by President Vladimir Putin, reported an NGO.
According to OVD-Info, an organization specializing in counting arrests, at least “710 people have already been arrested in 32 cities” across Russia, almost half of them in Moscow.
In the Russian capital, a large police force had been deployed in the central district of Chistye Proudy, AFP journalists noted.
Most of the demonstrators present walked or stood still individually or in small groups so as not to be spotted and arrested. Despite everything, AFP attended the arrest of around twenty people.
“We are not cannon fodder! », shouted a young woman as police in riot helmets dragged her away. This is one of the slogans of the demonstrators opposed to sending mobilized troops to Ukraine.
In Saint Petersburg (Northwest), the country’s second largest city, AFP saw around 30 people being taken on board a police bus.
There too, the protesters tried to be discreet.
Ilia Frolov, 22, brought a small banner with the word ” peace “ written on. “I want to express my disagreement with what is happening […]. I don’t want to fight for Putin”he said.
“I am against war and mobilization. I am afraid for the young people”explains another resident, Natalia Doubova, 70 years old.
On Wednesday, the day of the announcement of the mobilization by Mr. Putin, nearly 1,400 demonstrators had been arrested across Russia.
Some of them, including two with whom AFP was able to speak, said that the authorities had given them a mobilization order at the police station.
The Kremlin defended this practice, assuring that it was not “illegal”.
Demonstrations against the offensive in Ukraine are harshly repressed in Russia. Several thousand people have been arrested since the start of the conflict in February.
On the other hand, hundreds of people gathered in Moscow and Saint Petersburg on Friday to support the offensive and the annexation of areas controlled by Russia. Without being worried.