Responding to the detention of at least 1,386 peaceful protesters who took part in rallies across Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s call to mobilize additional troops to fight in Ukraine, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“As President Vladimir Putin seeks to boost the dwindling supply of troops for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Russians across the country have peacefully marched on the streets protesting against mobilization and the war. They are raising their voices even amid the stifling of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and as new repressive laws criminalize all forms of anti-war activity.
“Everyone has the right to freely express their opinions and protest peacefully, including in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. All those detained solely for peacefully protesting against mobilization and the war must be immediately and unconditionally released, and all reprisals against dissenting voices in Russia should end.
“The international community must step up its efforts to end Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, including by supporting those who are peacefully protesting against the invasion or conscientiously objecting to participate in the conflict.”
While arresting demonstrators, police officers extensively resorted to unnecessary and excessive force against peaceful protesters, including by beating them with batons and putting them into chokeholds. In Saint Petersburg, one person suffered a broken arm after being beaten by police.
According to the independent human rights organization OVD-Info, police handed summons to enrol at military enlistment centres to several yesterday’s male detainees in Moscow and Voronezh, Central Russia. The detainees are also at risk of administrative or criminal prosecution.
Amnesty International is currently undertaking a global campaign to counter the unprecedented attacks against peaceful protesters across the world. Among other things, the campaign is urging governments to stop misusing the criminal, civil and administrative legal systems to silence and deter protesters.