Kremlin cracks down on soldiers' wives protest, says ISW
Russian authorities strongly censored a protest by wives of mobilized soldiers in Moscow on February 3. This appears to be an attempt to quell the potential resurgence of broader public sympathy for conscripted Russian soldiers and opposition to President Vladimir Putin's regime
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported the information.
Members of the Russian civil movement "Way Home" laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow before holding a protest in nearby Manezhnaya Square to commemorate the 500th day of partial mobilization initiated by Russian leader Putin in September 2022.
Russian state media largely ignored the event, but mentioned a warning from the Moscow prosecutor's office against participating in the protest, likely referring to the Way Home gathering.
Contrastingly, opposition Russian media provided detailed coverage of the protest, with an estimated 200 participants. Moscow police reportedly detained 27 individuals, mostly Russian and foreign journalists, according to opposition sources.
The authorities later released the detainees without charges. Some rally participants protested outside the police station for the release of all those detained.
The Russian police permitted the Way Home protesters to visit Putin's campaign headquarters to hand-write an appeal for the return of mobilized individuals home. However, access for media coverage was restricted, with small groups of protesters allowed.
ISW experts suggest that “Russian law enforcement likely deliberately detained journalists rather than protestors to limit reporting of the event while depriving the Way Home organization of a platform on which to martyr itself in the information space over the arrests of its members.”
On February 3, security forces in Russia detained around 30 journalists at a protest near the Kremlin advocating for the return of the Russian occupying army’s soldiers home.