through anger protestsWith violence and mass exodus of more than 200,000 citizens, the Russians are rising up against the prospect of an escalation of the war and the high price they are likely to pay.
Kremlin officials have played down the unrest, but scenes from Russia tell a different story of widespread dissent against a government notoriously repressive. Opposition has been documented across the country even in previously quiet areas.
Videos and photos verified by the Washington Post show that the Russians are angry and fearful for their lives. Dozens of protests erupted in large cities and rural areas that have already lost many men to the war in Ukraine. Some went to violence, while others chose to escape: long lines of cars waiting to cross the land border outside the country and International flights from Moscow were full of men of fighting age.
On Sunday, demonstrations erupted in Dagestan, the Muslim-majority republic in the North Caucasus. Soldiers from the area have suffer Disproportionately high losses during the invasion of Ukraine. In protests in the regional capital, Makhachkala, on Sunday and Monday, women faced off, so chase, Local authorities. They chanted, “We are with peace.” One widely shared video.
Security forces responded harshly, arresting both women and men. He said that about 120 people were arrested in Makhachkala OVD informationIt is an independent group that monitors protests.
The President of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, blamed the unrest on foreign influence “trying to escalate the situation inside the country” and vowed that the republic would fulfill its role in mobilization.
In the village of Inderi, which has a population of about 8,000 people northwest of Makhachkala, a video taken on Sunday showed police firing in the air. according to local Telegram channels110 men were summoned there.
More protests erupted on Monday in Makhachkala and security forces clashed again with local residents.
Within hours of Putin’s announcement, protesters took to the streets in several large cities including St Petersburg, Perm, Yekaterinburg and Moscow. The police responded, as they did months earlier, with beatings and mass arrests.
Demonstrators also came out in Western Siberia. A video posted on September 21 showed people standing in the central square in Novosibirsk. “I don’t want to die for Putin,” one shouted before the police pulled them away.
Police surrounded Demonstrators in a main square in the Siberian city of Tomsk on September 21. one protester He was turned away holding a sign that said, “Give me a hug if you’re scared too.”
In cities in eastern Siberia, protesters clashed with police shortly after Putin’s announcement and continued to demonstrate through the weekend.
in Post the video On Sunday on Telegram from the far eastern city of Yakutsk, a poor district where ethnic minorities have also borne the brunt of the losses in the war, women surrounded the police and chanted, “Let our children live!”
There have also been attacks against military recruitment offices. More than a dozen violent incidents have been reported across the country against military commissariats since the mobilization was declared.
Monday morning in the recruitment center in Ust-Ilimsk, 25-year-old Ruslan Zinin Shot and a recruiting officer was seriously injuredAlexander Eliseev, responsible for conscription.
The shooter was arrested and a criminal case was opened against him, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
A video posted on Monday on Telegram showed a person throwing a Molotov cocktail at a recruitment office in the town of Uryupinsk, part of the Volgograd region or province in southwestern Russia.
in Statement from the administration of Uryupinsk The office, which was published on the Russian social networking channel VK, confirmed that the conscription building had been set on fire and that “the wrong person has been arrested.” The department said there was minor damage and no injuries.
A military recruitment office in Tomsk was evacuated after a bomb threat just hours after Putin announced, The media in Tomsk mentioned.
Instead of engaging in attacks or protests, many young people seeking to avoid war have chosen to flee the country. Social media posts and satellite imagery showed miles of cars lined up at Russian border crossings as neighboring countries reported influxes of Russian migrants.
The rows of cars stretched at least nine miles from the upper Lars checkpoint on the Georgia border, much longer than the usual backup, according to Stephen Wood, senior manager at Maxar Technologies. Traffic jams appear in satellite images and videos posted on the Internet.
For Yana and her boyfriend, the crossing to Georgia took days. The 28-year-old, who only gave her first name because she did not want her identity to be revealed by the authorities, described a desperate scene at the border.
“People have been standing there for three or four days,” she said. “Help conversations are created online, with people asking for water, food, diapers, and gasoline.”
A tour guide said in a video Posted on September 22nd.
Georgian Interior Minister said there was a 40 to 45 percent increase in crossing Russians limits daily since the announcement of mobilization.
After days of waiting, the couple crossed on Tuesday. “He hasn’t received any summons yet,” Yana said of her boyfriend. “Once she arrives, it’s too late to leave.”
Satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies on Friday showed a group of vehicles about half a mile long waiting to cross from the Russian Republic of Buryatia to Mongolia.
“There are definitely more vehicles trying to leave,” Wood said. Photos from August 15, which he said are typical of pre-mobilization traffic volumes, only contained a handful of trucks on the Russian side of the border.
Satellite images taken in the week since Russia’s announcement have also indicated long delays at several land crossings into Kazakhstan.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev estimated on Tuesday that about 98,000 Russians have entered the country since September 21, “most of whom have been forced to leave due to the current desperate situation,” he said in a speech. “We must take care of them and ensure their safety.”
A video clip taken at the Mashtakovo border crossing into Kazakhstan and released on September 22 also showed cars lined up at the checkpoint and men on foot. Footage recorded late on Sunday showed large numbers of men still at the border.
“There are many refugees, I feel sorry for them,” said Aydos Kaerzhanov, who shared the videos with The Washington Post and said he helped move some Russians from the border.
Many also hurried to fly from Russia.
“The decision to leave was very difficult,” said Alexander, 27, who gave only his first name for fear of reprisals. He left his family, girlfriend, mortgage and job and booked a flight to Kazakhstan when he heard about packing up. At first he was nervous and confused, but he made friends on the plane – Russian guys are also fleeing.
“I’m glad I left and I have no regrets. The future is very uncertain,” he said.
Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report from Riga and Latvia and Rather Mirza from Washington, DC contributed to this report. Maria Manshaus provided translations.
The war in Ukraine: what you need to know
Last: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in a speech to the nation on September 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia”. . Follow us Live updates here.
Fighting: The successful Ukrainian counterattack forced a major Russian withdrawal in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled the cities and villages they had occupied from the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.
Annexation referendums: Russian news agencies reported that the interim referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are scheduled for September 23-27 in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson will hold another referendum in stages, starting on Friday.
Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground since the start of the war. Here are some of their most powerful works.