July 23, 2024

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Ukraine: Punishment for fugitives toughened in Moscow, more than 700 arrested

Ukraine: Punishment for fugitives toughened in Moscow, more than 700 arrested

KYIV | Fully mobilizing its reservists to fight in Ukraine, Moscow on Saturday toughened penalties for defectors and arrested hundreds of protesters, after sacking the head of its military logistics.

• Read more: Putin: I was wrong

• Read more: Ukraine: Biden promises “swift and severe” sanctions over Russian ties

• Read more: Ukraine: Russia votes for annexations, Kiev says military advances

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an amendment that would punish soldiers who desert or refuse to fight with up to 10 years in prison.

At a time when Moscow is scrambling to recruit more troops to fight in Ukraine, he signed a law giving access to Russian citizenship to foreigners who join the army for at least a year.

However, these concrete measures did not prevent opponents of this regional mobilization from demonstrating across the country on Saturday, at least “710 people were arrested in 32 cities”, including almost half in Moscow, according to OVD-Info, an organization specializing in counting arrests.

Penetration of the Georgian border

“We are not cannon fodder!” shouted a young woman in Moscow. This is one of the slogans of the demonstrators who oppose the sending of mobilized troops to Ukraine.

In the country’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg (northwest), Ilya Frolov, 22, brought a small banner reading “Peace.” “I want to express my disagreement with what’s going on… I don’t want to fight for Putin,” he said. “I am against war and mobilization. I fear for the youth,” said another resident, 70-year-old Natalia Dubova.

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On Wednesday, Mr. On the day of Putin’s announcement of the rally, nearly 1,400 demonstrators had already been arrested across Russia.

The mobilization order, which officials say is about 300,000 people, has sparked concern among many Russians, with some choosing to flee the country.

Russian authorities acknowledged a “significant” influx of cars seeking to cross into Georgia on Saturday, with around 2,300 vehicles counted at a single border checkpoint.

Ukraine: Punishment for fugitives toughened in Moscow, more than 700 arrested

Screenshot | Twitter

Borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia have seen an influx of Russians, with people sometimes waiting for hours to cross.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said reports of an “expulsion” of Russians were “grossly exaggerated.”

Moscow announced on Saturday that it had replaced the head of its military logistics, a weak point in its offensive in Ukraine, which began seven months ago. Q’s forces recently launched a counteroffensive, which allowed them to liberate important territories in the Kharkiv (East) region.

Deputy Defense Minister General Dmitry Bulgakov has been transferred to “another position” and replaced by Colonel General Mikhail Mizhintsev, who until then headed the National Security Control Center, the Russian Defense Ministry announced.

Russia, on the other hand, continued its annexation “referendum” on Saturday, despite fresh threats of Western sanctions, launching four regions of Ukraine under its total or partial control.

US President Joe Biden on Friday evening warned of the risk of “swift and severe” retaliation in the event of annexations, believing that “Russia’s vote was a sham, a false pretext to try to forcefully annex parts of Ukraine.”

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Earlier, the G7 countries (Germany, Canada, USA, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom) “must unequivocally reject these fictitious referendums”, “simulacra”, which “have no legal effect or legitimacy”.

According to the Ukrainian military on Saturday morning, due to the low turnout, members of “voting stations” accompanied by Russian soldiers went to the homes of residents, allowing them to “vote” from their homes.

Without going so far as to condemn the referendum, China, Moscow’s closest ally, followed through with its criticism to respect the “territorial integrity of all countries”.

The “referendum” organized in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk (east) and the Russian-occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia (south) will end on September 27.

In Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities, authorities held demonstrations in support of the vote with flags and slogans.


On the diplomatic front, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday called on Ukraine and Russia “not to spill” the war, calling for a “peaceful resolution” during his address to the UN General Assembly.

From the same platform, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday condemned the West’s “unprecedented and “cruel” Russophobia.

Iran, for its part, has found itself in the crosshairs of Ukrainian officials, who have accused Moscow of supplying weapons and drones in particular, which killed one person in a Russian attack on the port of Odessa on Friday.

Condemning the “hostile” behavior, Kiev decided to withdraw accreditation from the Iranian ambassador to Ukraine and “significantly reduce” the staff of the Iranian embassy in Kyiv.

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Iran on Saturday regretted the decision, which was “based on baseless information” and “spread by foreign media” against Tehran.