More than 800 protesters have been arrested in cities across Russia as they protested Vladimir Putin's order to mobilize 300,000 troops to fight in the Ukraine war.
Putin's speech sparked protests in at least 37 cities including St Petersburg, and the capital Moscow, according to the independent Russian human rights group OVD-Info.
Journalists in Moscow witnessed at least a dozen arrests in the first 15 minute of a protest, as participants risks Russia's harsh laws on criticising the military and the war.
Asked whether protesting would help, one Muscovite who declined to give their name said: “It won’t help, but it’s my civic duty to express my stance. No to war!”
“Thousands of Russian men - our fathers, brothers and husbands - will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?” the Vesna opposition movement said, calling for demonstrations.
As protest calls circulated online, the Moscow prosecutor’s office warned that organising or participating in such actions could lead to up to 15 years in prison. Authorities issued similar warnings ahead of other protests recently, however Wednesday's demonstrations were the first nationwide antiwar protests since the war began in late February.
The state communication watchdog Roskomnadzor also warned media that access to their websites would be blocked for transmitting “false information” about the mobilisation. It was unclear exactly what that meant.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked what had changed since he and others previously said no mobilisation was planned, said Russia is effectively fighting NATO because the alliance’s members have supplied weapons to Kyiv.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, whoRead more on euronews.com