International United Nations

Russia: Alarm over arrests of military mobilization protesters

In Russia, nearly 2,400 people have reportedly been arrested for protesting against the Kremlin’s mobilisation call-up to fight in Ukraine, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Tuesday.

Arrests have happened in various parts of the country, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told journalists in Geneva, during a routine briefing.

In the Dagestan capital Makhachkala, protests reportedly continued for a second day on Monday, with hundreds of people taking to the streets and clashing with police officers, resulting in dozens of arrests.

“We stress that arresting people solely for exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty,” Ms. Shamdasani said.

We call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained and for the authorities to abide by their international obligations to respect and ensure the rights to freedom of expression, and of peaceful assembly.”

Wrong call

Ms. Shamdasani noted that there had been reports of men mistakenly called up despite having no prior military training, and that the authorities had set up a hotline to rectify the situation.

The OHCHR spokesperson also described as “heartbreaking” the widely reported exodus of young men leaving Russia to avoid mobilisation.

And she said that international human rights law was very clear that when people wanted to object to hostilities as conscientious objectors, this should be respected by the authorities.

Matter of conscience

Our key concerns are the need for lawfulness, a need for a lack of arbitrariness and clear scope for conscientious objection and independent review of individual decisions on how the mobilisation has been carried out.”

While the majority of the protests are reported to have been peaceful, military and administrative buildings, including enlistment offices, have been attacked in several regions, OHCHR said, while also urging people to “protest peacefully and avoid resorting to violence”.

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