President Vladimir Putin’s order to call up as many as 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine triggered alarm and demonstrations as Russians were forced to confront the reality of the deadly conflict.
Police detained about 1,400 people at protests against the order in 38 cities Wednesday night, according to the OVD-Info monitoring group. Some of the male detainees were handed draft notices at police stations, and protesters may face criminal charges under the harsh laws against criticism of the war the Kremlin has imposed since the Feb. 24 invasion. Some university students who joined the demonstrations were threatened with expulsion, which could annul draft exemptions.
For millions of Russians who’ve been largely shielded from the reality of the Kremlin’s bloody seven-month war, Putin’s speech early Wednesday announcing a “partial mobilization” came as a shock. The authorities provided few details of how the order, which is the first in Russia since World War II, will be implemented and who will get drafted.