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Russian opposition to Putin’s mass mobilization increases

Opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 more troops to fight in Ukraine continues to grow after two leading Russian politicians voiced concerns and local police arrested hundreds of protesters across the country.

Valentina Matviyenko, head of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament and a close ally to Putin, said on her social media channels Sunday that she was aware of reports that some men, who were ineligible for the draft, had been called up to fight. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s State Duma and another leading politician, similarly raised concerns about people who did not meet the criteria for conscription being asked to fight in Ukraine.

“Such excesses are absolutely unacceptable and I consider it absolutely right that they are triggering a sharp reaction in society,” Matviyenko wrote on Telegram, the social media network.

While these two leading Russian politicians did not come out in opposition to Putin’s mass mobilization, their comments come as more than 700 people were arrested, collectively, in Moscow and St. Petersburg on Saturday during widespread protests against the military escalation. In total, roughly 2,000 people have been detained in the last week over their opposition to the military mobilization.

On Saturday, local police moved quickly to disperse protesters, some of who were aligned to the opposition political party run by now-jailed Alexei Navalny. In the two Russian cities, those involved in the marches shouted slogans like “we aren’t cannon fodder” and “Putin into the trenches” before they were arrested, according to reports from domestic independent media.

It remains unclear, however, how successful these protests will be in response to Putin’s decree on Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of reservists would be called up. Under Russian law, almost all men between 18 and 65 years of age are eligible, but Moscow has stated that some professions, including banking and the media, will be exempt from the draft.

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