At least 100 people were detained at a protest opposing the mobilisation in the southern Russian region of Dagestan, underscoring the anger with president Vladimir Putin’s order to send hundreds of thousands more people to fight in Ukraine.
Russia’s first military mobilisation since the second World War, announced by Putin on Wednesday, has triggered protests in dozens of cities across the country. Public anger has appeared to be particularly strong in poor ethnic minority areas like Dagestan, a Muslim-majority region located on the shores of the Caspian Sea in the mountainous north Caucasus.
The independent OVD-Info protest monitoring group said at least 100 people were detained in the regional capital Makhachkala.
Dozens of videos posted on social media showed confrontations with police as protesters shouted “no to war!”.
One video showed a group of women chasing away a police officer, while several clips showed violent clashes, including police sitting on protesters, as officers attempted to make detentions.
Reuters was unable to verify the footage, which was shared widely across Russian social media and by independent media outlets. Reuters was unable to reach police in Dagestan.
The OVD-Info rights monitor said it was concerned by the footage of "very tough detentions" emerging from Makhachkala.
Earlier on Sunday, police fired shots into the air after dozens of protesters in a village in Dagestan blocked a major road in protest against officials reportedly calling up more than 100 men from the village, with a population of 8,000, for military service, videos taken at the scene showed.
Dagestan has already paid a heavy human toll during the seven-month war. According to a tally by the BBC’s Russian service, at least 301 soldiers from Dagestan have died – the most of any Russian region and more than 10 times the number of deaths from Moscow, which has a population five times larger.
The defence ministry, which said on Wednesday that almost 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since February 24th, has not issued regional breakdowns of the casualty figures.
Unauthorised rallies are illegal under Russia's anti-protest laws, and are rare outside of big cities.
More than 2,000 people have been detained at anti-mobilisation rallies in Russia since Putin announced the drive, which the Kremlin calls a "partial mobilisation," said the OVD-Info group, which monitors protests and provides legal assistance to those detained.
In an attempt to dispel public anger, Dagestan’s governor Sergei Melikov said on Sunday that “mistakes have been made” in the mobilisation roll-out in the region, in a post on his Telegram page.
There have been several reports from across Russia of people with no military service or parents of young children being called up in the draft – despite guarantees from defence minister Sergei Shoigu they would be excluded.
Earlier on Sunday Russia’s two most senior lawmakers – key Putin allies – also addressed public concerns about mobilisation, acknowledging “excesses” had stoked public anger. – Reuters