A rights group says Russia is detaining anti-war protesters to fight for Putin in Ukraine, and the Kremlin isn't denying it

·2 min read
Man being arrested by police as bystanders watch
Russian police detain a protester during an unsanctioned rally on September 21, 2022, in Moscow.Contributor/Getty Images
  • Protesters arrested in Russia are being forced to report to military recruitment offices, a monitor said.

  • The Russian-based rights group OVD-Info said at least 1,310 anti-war protesters have been detained.

  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did not deny that some of those detained are being drafted.

Russians who have been arrested for protesting their country's invasion of Ukraine as Putin mobilizes additional forces are being forced to report to military enlistment offices, a monitoring group said Thursday.

At least 1,328 people, including more than 530 in Moscow alone, were detained Wednesday in mass protests across Russia, the Russian independent human rights project OVD-Info reported.

At 15 police departments across the capital, protesters were handed summons demanding they report for military duty, the group said. At least 17 anti-war protesters in Voronezh, a city in southwest Russia, were also ordered to report to an enlistment office.

At least one detainee was threatened with a 10-year prison term for refusing to accept the summons, the group said.

Artem Krieger, a Moscow-based journalist with SOTA, one of the few remaining independent news outlets in Russia, said he had also witnessed detained protesters being handed summons after he was arrested covering protests on Wednesday. According to Krieger, some men received the summons despite having no military experience.

The arrests came after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that at least 300,000 reservists would be called up to fight in Ukraine — the first such draft since World War II — and that currently enlisted soldiers would be prevented from leaving the army once their contracts end.

The announcement came after a Ukrainian counter-offensive dealt heavy losses to Russian forces, recovering over 3,000 square miles of territory in the eastern part of the country, as well as some areas in the south, that had been occupied by the invading army.

"That Putin would do this shows how badly he feels the need right now to change the momentum, which has been all in Ukraine's favor," Daniel Treisman, a Russia expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Insider.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, did not deny that some detained protesters were being drafted, Reuters reported. "This is not against the law," he said.

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