The Russian opposition called for protests against President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday after he ordered the mobilization of 300,000 reservists for what Kremlin enemy Alexei Navalny said was a failed criminal war.
Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilization since World War II and supported a plan to annex parts of Ukraine, warning the West not to bluff when he said he would be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.
Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader currently in prison, said Putin sent more Russians to their deaths over a failed war.
“Obviously the criminal war is getting worse and deeper, and Putin is trying to get as many people involved as possible,” Navalny said in a video message from prison, recorded and published by his lawyers.
“He wants to smear hundreds of thousands of people in this blood,” Navalny said.
Since the February 24 invasion, Putin has cracked down on dissent and the media, with thousands arrested in anti-war protests and a new law imposing 15 years in prison for those who spread “fake news” about the military.
Russian state television views critics as traitors in the service of the West. Putin says the country is engaged in a battle with the West over Ukraine, which he says is being used by the United States and its allies in an attempt to destroy Russia.
Russian anti-war groups called for street protests against the mobilization order.
“This means thousands of Russian men – our fathers, brothers and husbands – will be thrown into the meat grinder of war,” Vesna’s anti-war coalition said. “Now the war has come to every home and every family.”
It called on Russians to take to the streets in major cities on Wednesday.
In the days after the war started, riot police cracked down on nightly street protests in which at least 16,000 protesters were detained, according to the OVD-Info rights group.
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