The number of people detained in Russia for protesting the country’s partial military mobilization has risen to nearly 2,500 across the country, as prominent pro-Kremlin voices have begun to question how the project is conducted.
OVD-Info, a human rights group which monitors political arrests in Russia, said 2,353 people had been detained September 25, and at least 141 new detentions had been recorded by September 26.
The highest number of one-day detentions came on September 21, when protests took place in 43 cities immediately after the plan was announced.
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The rights group said there may be more detainees than those released by police and that it was only reporting names it could verify.
It was unclear whether the latest figures included detentions of anti-mobilization protesters in the capital of Russia’s southern republic, Dagestan, on September 25.
Caucasus.Facts reported that the police dispersed an unknown number of people who had gathered in Makhachkala to express their anger over conscription.
In one of multiple videos shared on telegram capturing the confrontation, a police officer is shown beating a protester as two other officers restrain the man.
OVD-Info said on September 26 that detained protesters in Makhachkala were beaten after being taken to a police station in the city’s Lenin district, and officers refused to provide the detainees with water.
The rights group also cited a correspondent for the Caucasian Knot website who said he was being held with 60 other detainees at a branch of the Interior Ministry in the Soviet Makhachkala district.
The correspondent, Murad Muradov, said that “some of the detainees were coerced by the police into signing a protocol, threatening them not to be summoned to the military registration and enlistment office”. In at least one case, Muradov added, “they followed through on their threat.”
WATCH: Hundreds marched in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan on September 25 to protest the partial mobilization announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 21 in an effort to escalate the ongoing war on Ukraine .
The nationwide protests erupted hours after President Vladimir Putin announced the partial military mobilization on September 21, which aims to bolster Russian military forces fighting in Ukraine.
Russian police have been mobilized in cities where protests have been called by the opposition group Vesna and supporters of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.
Footage released by Russian media showed scenes of police using force against protesters, and many young men detained during the protests were reportedly ordered to register for military service.
In Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia occupied and annexed in 2014, Russian-installed leaders said on September 25 that their the mobilization would be over At the end of the day.
The call came as Russian forces suffered significant losses of occupied territory in eastern Ukraine due to a counter-offensive launched by the Ukrainian military. Putin followed through on his mobilization order on September 24 by imposing tougher sanctions on Russians who voluntarily surrendered to Ukrainian forces or refused mobilization orders.
Russian officials said up to 300,000 reserve forces will be called up and only those with relevant combat and service experience will be drafted to fight. However, Russian media reports have surfaced saying that men who have never been in the military or are past the age of conscription are being called up, and foreign media have reported that the real aim is to mobilize more than a million soldiers, which the Kremlin denies. .
Western officials say Russia has suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, dead and wounded, since it launched its unprovoked war in Ukraine in February.
Mobilization to replenish these losses has seen men across Russia sent to register and to report Russian citizens attempting to flee the country.
Several military enlistment centers and other administrative buildings across the country have been the target of arson in recent days, and on September 26, a military commissar was shot dead by an apparent recruit at an enlistment center in Siberia.
According to media reports, the 25-year-old gunman was called to report to the Ust-Ilimsk city office for a mobilization that day.
The project has also led to rare complaints from pro-Kremlin voices.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of state-backed outlet RT, wrote on her Telegram channel on September 24 that although it was announced that only people under the age of 35 would be recruited, “calls go to 40 years.”
“They infuriate people, like on purpose, like out of spite,” Simonyan said of the authorities behind the project.
On the same day, the head of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeyev, called on Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to put an end to the way many editorial boards in the country were proceeding. .
On September 25, two of Russia’s top lawmakers weighed in on the growing controversy.
In a Telegram post, Valentina Matviyenko, Chairwoman of the Federation Council of Russia, said she was aware of reports that men who should not be eligible for the project are being called up.
“Such excesses are absolutely unacceptable. And I consider it entirely right that they trigger a strong reaction in society,” she wrote.
Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma, wrote in a separate article that “complaints are received.”
“If a mistake is made, it is necessary to correct it,” he said. “Authorities at all levels must understand their responsibilities.”