Russia has reportedly warned that those who protest Vladimir Putin’s decision to call up reservists to fight in Ukraine will be drafted into the army.
Demonstrations are planned across the country on Wednesday night, opposing Putin’s decree to partially mobilize Russia’s armed forces.
Russian media have warned that anyone taking part in “illegal gatherings” will be subject to military conscription, according to Samuel Ramani, Research Associate at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies.
Top Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov shared a message on Telegram outlining the measures.
He said all participants in such rallies would be returned to the Russian Interior Ministry after their detention and then conscripted.
“They will check the documents immediately on the spot, identify them, hold them and send them to the internal affairs bodies,” the post said, according to a Google translation.
“Then, with input from representatives of the Military Registration and Enlistment Office, the draft category will be determined. Those who do not immediately fit the first category will be registered for further conscription.”
Pro-Kremlin activist/blogger Ilya Remeslo and website URA.ru also said protesters could be drafted.
In a pre-recorded address broadcast Wednesday morning, Putin announced a partial mobilization aimed at bolstering his forces in Ukraine.
It is estimated that 300,000 reservists could be called up.
Putin also said he was ready to respond to what he described as “nuclear blackmail” from the West.
“If Russia feels that its territorial integrity is threatened, we will use all defense methods at our disposal, and this is not bluffing,” he said.
Russia had “many weapons to fight back”, he added.
The US ambassador to Ukraine described Putin’s announcement as a sign of Russia’s “failure”.
“Mock referenda and mobilization are signs of weakness, of Russian failure,” Bridget A. Brink wrote on Twitter.
“The United States will never recognize Russia’s claim to allegedly annexed Ukrainian territory, and we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.”
Flights from Russia to Armenia, Turkey and Georgia sold out minutes after Putin announced partial mobilization, according to a Russian online newspaper slow reported.
The Russian rail network operator’s website also reportedly crashed on Wednesday.
The Russian Railways webpage was down, according to the Down with everyone or just me website.
Russian Railways released a statement denying Russian state media reports that men of military age are required to have certificates showing their military service status before buying tickets.