Russia is engulfed in a wave of mass protests against the mobilization for the war in Ukraine announced by Russian president Vladimir Putin last morning. People have walked out in the main streets of their cities despite the risk of being arrested. In particular, the Prosecutor’s Office of Moscow threatened potential protesters with prison terms of up to 15 years for “unauthorized public events”.
Regular and riot police (OMON) responded to mass protests that took place on September 21 in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, and other cities with numerous arrests and brutal acts of suppression. According to OVD-Info, as many as 1,386 protesters ended up in riot vans and police stations across 38 cities.
As usual, arrests were the most numerous and aggressive in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. On Arbat Street (Moscow), the police grabbed people from the crowd and dragged them to special vehicles. Protesters are chanting: “No to war!” and “Send Putin to the trenches!” Sometimes it took four or even six police officers to arrest a single protester.
The first arrests of protesting Muscovites happened immediately after the march began. Policemen inflicted violence on the detainees, beating some of them on the legs during searches. They also snatched away their passports before locking them up in riot vans.
The police in Saint Petersburg also showed aggression when detaining protesters. In the video, three police officers push a woman to the ground.
Eyewitnesses report that arrests were random and that some of the detainees had not been chanting any slogans and had simply been walking down the street. The police pushed people to the ground and arrested them.
Also in Saint Petersburg: riot police force protesters to their knees outside the Russian Museum. Bumaga reports the incident, citing eyewitnesses. The protesters on the video attempted running away from the police and jumped over the fence, but got chased down.
In Saint Petersburg, the police beat some of the protesters outside St. Isaac's Cathedral with batons, according to Alexandra Barabash, one of the police brutality victims who spoke to OVD-Info.
In Moscow, the police dragged an unconscious girl into a riot van.
A protester in Saint Petersburg tore up his military registration card and got detained.
Even children got arrested at an antiwar rally in Moscow. In response to the protestations of the crowd that the police were dealing with a minor, they replied: “So her parents will be punished too.”
In Samara, a woman with children was detained at a protest, reports the Samara Against War channel. An important share of protesters are women whose sons are approaching the age of conscription service.
In Irkutsk, the detainees were released from police stations with an obligation to return for reports to be drawn up or with a warning about the non-acceptability of public protest law violations, informs the Anarchist Irkutsk Telegram channel. Some of the detainees were spoken to by the officers of the Center for Combating Extremism (the “Center E”).