Russian police moved quickly on Saturday to disperse peaceful counter-demonstrationsHundreds of people, including some children, were arrested in several cities across the country.
According to OVD-Info, an independent website that monitors political arrests in Russia, police detained more than 700 people, including more than 300 in Moscow and about 150 in St. Petersburg. Some of those arrested were minors, OVD-Info said.
Protests followedWithin hours of Putin, in a move to beef up his volunteer forces Announced the call up of experienced and skilled army reservists.
The Defense Ministry said about 300,000 people would be called to active duty, but the order leaves the door open for many more to be called into service. Most Russian men aged 18-65 are automatically considered reservists.
On Saturday, police were deployed in cities where opposition group Vesna and supporters had demonstrated.. They moved quickly to arrest the demonstrators, most of whom were young, before they could demonstrate.
In Moscow, a large contingent of police patrolled a downtown area where a protest was planned and checked passers-by’s IDs. The authorities found him suspicious.
A young woman climbed onto the bench and shouted “We are not cannon fodder!” Before the police took her away.
In St. Petersburg, small groups of protesters managed to hand out protest slogans before assembling.
In the eastern Siberian city of Novosibirsk, more than 70 people were detained after singing an innocuous Soviet-era song praising peace.
In another Siberian city of Irkutsk, police sent summonses to military conscription offices for men who had taken part in the protest.
People who tried to hold individual pickets, as permitted under Russian law, were also detained.
Police crackdowns followed the dispersal of Wednesday’s protests, when more than 1,300 people were detained in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities on Wednesday.
Putin signed a hastily-approved bill on Saturday that toughens penalties for soldiers who disobey orders, desert or surrender to the enemy.